People Worth Backing #1: Rick Rommel

Posted in Uncategorized by jwolpert on May 3, 2009

I work with a lot of people in many different companies. Nearly all of them mean well. In the main they care about their families and their friends. And at least 97% of them want to do a good job.

But there are two rare kinds of people whose stories I want to tell here:  People who are trying to change the rules, and people who help them.

Every Sunday, I’m going to dedicate some time to remember and celebrate these innovators.

Rick Rommel is the first person that comes to mind. Rick works for Best Buy. He’s got a short gray beard and tight-cropped salt-and-pepper hair. He has the look of a ship’s captain.

Rick used to be a merchant at Best Buy, which means he was responsible for what went on the shelves and which vendors supplied them. This is old-school stuff…the core of the company. In every firm, there is a position that gives you a bird’s eye view of how the company works as a complete system. In a big box retailer, imo, that’s the “merch.”

Rick went on to build Best Buy’s Insignia brand of products, and today he spends his time helping find new opportunities for the company to grow – in particular through new and novel relationships with third parties.

His experience as a merch and his even-keel-but-lights-on style allow him to pull off a rare thing for anyone inside a large, complex company: He knows who to call to get real things done, and when he calls, people answer the phone.

Rick supports innovators both inside Best Buy and outside by doing three things: 1) Listening; 2) Asking terrific questions; 3) Carefully choosing to connect people who want to do innovative things with the people who can help them actually get it done.

Every company needs a Rick…maybe a few more than just one.

If you ever have a chance to back a Rommel project, do it.

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One Response

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  1. Pilgrim Beart said, on March 14, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I certainly endorse that – Rick is a quality guy, very level-headed but with a twinkle in the eye, and was instrumental in helping the company that I co-founded, AlertMe, get off the ground.

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