1999 Minnesota Business Hall Of Fame

The Best and the Brightest: Introducing the first five inductees into the Twin Cities Business Minnesota Business Hall of Fame.
1999 Minnesota Business Hall Of Fame

Below you’ll be introduced to the first inductees into the Twin Cities Business Minnesota Business Hall of Fame, an honor we will extend to many others in what will be an annual celebration of the accomplishments of Minnesota’s greatest business executives.

As we embark on this first edition, I must note that this list is explicitly subjective. Our five inductees shouldn’t be construed as the very best in state history. We’re not sure there is a way to make such an assessment; if one exists, we aren’t the ones to make it. What I am sure of, however, is that no one can argue against the presence of the five we selected this first time out.

We spent a great deal of effort developing a fair process. Our objectives were to ensure that the selection be made from a wide array of candidates and that they be selected in a fair way. First, we cast a wide net for nominees. We publicized the event in this magazine. We sent a mailing to business leaders throughout the state. Our lists included large and small companies, public relations firms, business associations, and academic and government officials. In addition, I talked with the 50 or so folks I use as advisors in the conduct of the editorial product of this magazine. We discussed possible nominees and hashed over existing ones.

Determining the selection process provided our most difficult challenge. At issue were two questions. Should inductees be accepted in different categories, according to specific standards? Or should they be considered on their own merits, within a more subjective standard that considered their unique contributions?

We decided on the latter, for two reasons. First, the most economic view of categories was one that would have yielded 14 winners, a number that would have diluted the award’s prestige. Second, we saw that categories, not people, were going to determine the honorees. We envisioned a time in which meritorious honorees might be excluded merely because two people occupied the same category, or that some not-yet-ready honorees might be inducted merely for a lack of better candidates. Therefore, we decided to select on the broad category of “lifetime contribution to Minnesota business.” The only qualification was that inductees must be among the living, which left us in something of a quandary, given the recent death of legendary Minnesota businessman Curt Carlson. To recognize Carlson’s achievements, we’ve included a special interview with him, one of the last ones he gave.

For a panel of selectors, I turned to the in-house editorial staff of Twin Cities Business, plus our columnists. Each staffer was assigned to research a nominee from the list of finalists and then to be that person’s advocate. From there, we discussed and voted. It was one of the most enjoyable efforts we’ve attempted here at Twin Cities Business. It’s a fair bet that all of the panelists left the meeting with a sense of awe over the accomplishment of our nominees.

The hall of fame will become the signature effort of Twin Cities Business. It’s only fitting, since we exist as a business-to-business publication that is not timid about celebrating the accomplishments of business in society, and more specifically, the people who run those businesses.