Top Customer Experience Experts
Top Customer Experience Experts

016: Derrick Hall: I looked at it as an opportunity

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Derrick Hall Show Notes

This episode was recorded on location at the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) Member Insight Exchange.

Derrick’s doctor made a mistake. That mistake ultimately saved Derrick’s life. In September 2011, he faced his greatest personal hump when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. As the President and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Derrick is considered by many to be among the leaders of the game. He showed his leadership strength by immediately going public with the diagnosis in order to encourage other men to get tested after age 40. Hall is now cancer free and has become a tireless advocate of cancer-fighting charities while continuing to speak publicly about the health challenge he faces.

In 2014, he launched the Derrick Hall Pro-State Foundation, which is dedicated to serving as a comprehensive tool for those who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and their families to help them understand the challenges and choices they face and how they can maintain a “pro” state of mind.

Listen to Derrick share his story of battling prostate cancer, perseverance, passions and leadership behaviors that can help you move onward and upward faster.

Derrick Hall has turned the D-backs into a model franchise within the sports industry and throughout the business world during his helm of the club. Hall focuses the organization’s efforts in five areas he has called the “Circle of Success” – fan experience, performance, community, culture and financial efficiency – each of which has seen tremendous growth during his tenure.

With a focus on creating the best fan experience in all of sports, Hall has succeeded in accomplishing that goal at both Chase Field and at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the D-backs’ Spring Training home near Scottsdale. Hall installed, named and created a FAWTSY (Find A Way To Say Yes) customer service policy throughout the organization to further improve upon the extraordinary fan experience.

In the community, Hall has positioned the D-backs as one of the largest philanthropic entities in the Valley. In 2014, the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation and the D-backs’ organization surpassed the $41 million mark in charitable giving since their inception in 1998, including nearly than $30 million in the past nine years under Hall’s direction. In 2014, the team launched the D-backs Give Back Jersey program which will outfit more than 35,000 youth players across 60 leagues this season. During the 2013 Yarnell Hill fire, the D-backs were able to give back more than $700,000 on behalf of their fans to the families of the 19 firefighters who lost their lives. In 2008, Hall established the Michael Wogan Season Ticket Scholarship Program, a first-of-its-kind program for fans or existing season ticket holders who may have experienced a change in circumstances, providing families with more than 362 full-season tickets for a value of more than $635,000 since its inception.

The unique corporate culture of the D-backs, which was created by Hall, led Yahoo! to deem the club as “the best workplace in sports.” In 2013, the sports industry’s highly-regarded recruiting network TeamWork Online tabbed him as the “Best Boss” in sports and the organization was named the “Most Admired Company for Workplace Culture” by AzBusiness magazine and BestCompaniesAZ. Fittingly, the D-backs’ physical front office was rebranded the D-backs Culture & Innovation Center in 2013. In 2015, the D-backs were rated No. 1 on Ranking Arizona’s list of Best Places to Work among small businesses.

Hall routinely communicates with D-backs fans as part of his “one fan at a time” concept by answering every letter, email or phone call. He also conducts monthly chats on and is among just a handful of club presidents on Twitter and Instagram (@DHallDbacks), where he interacts regularly with fans. Hall spends most of his time at home games communicating with the fans in the stands to ensure their experience at Chase Field is exceptional.

Hall and his wife, Amy, reside in Paradise Valley with two of their three children, Hayden and Kylie. Their oldest son, Logan, attends Pepperdine University where he is a member of the tennis team.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Check out @DHallDbacks getting over the hump on @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“Passion for me is watching employees grow.” -Derrick Hall Click to Tweet

“We have to find a way to win off the field just as importantly.” -Derrick Hall Click to Tweet

“A life is not important except for the impact it has on others.” -Jackie Robinson Click to Tweet

“A season like we just had last year, it was a hump all year long.” -Derrick Hall Click to Tweet

“You become a stronger person for having gone through it.” -Derrick Hall Click to Tweet

“Being a cancer survivor…that’s about as large of a hump as anybody can have.” -Derrick Hall Click to Tweet

“We may compete on the field, but we don’t off the field, and we have to share best practices.” -Derrick Hall Click to Tweet

“Let’s get out notepads and let’s tell each other what we are doing right.” -Derrick Hall Click to Tweet

“We all care about the future deeply of our sport and how to treat fans.” -Derrick Hall Click to Tweet

“My father told me, I should know every employee’s name regardless of what their stature is.” -Derrick Hall Click to Tweet

“It’s very important for everyone to have a balanced life.” -Derrick Hall Click to Tweet

“At the end of the day, it really comes back to family.” -Derrick Hall Click to Tweet

“It’s so much more important to allow your employees to grow.” -Derrick Hall Click to Tweet

“Go do your thing and go be a star.” -Derrick Hall Click to Tweet

“Every leader must fail.” -Derrick Hall Click to Tweet

“It’s tuff to get people to buy-in but we have to.” -Derrick Hall Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

As the President and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Derrick is considered by many to be among the leaders of the game. He showed his leadership strength by immediately going public with the diagnosis of his prostate cancer in order to encourage other men to get tested after age 40. Hall is now cancer free and has become a tireless advocate of cancer-fighting charities while continuing to speak publicly about the health challenge he faces. Listen in to who TeamWork Online calls the “Best Boss” in sports.

Leadership Epiphany

It’s important to allow your employees to grow.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Money. We could do so much more if we had the resources. If we win we know those resources will be there and we can do more for our fans.

Best Leadership Advice Received

From his father. I should know every employees name regardless of what their stature is and what their position is.

Secret to Success

Make sure to spend as much quality time with family as possible. And to have a partner in life who understand how busy and committed you are.

Recommended Reading

Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog

Contacting Derrick


Email: dhall [at]

More Resources

54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.

Click to access edited transcript
016: Derrick Hall: I looked at it as an opportunity

Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead and move forward faster by becoming a better leader. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligent practitioner, Jim Rembach.
Jim Rembach: Thanks Kimberly. Okay Fast Leader legion, today’s show is a little bit unique from our typical format in that we have an interview that was done on location at the Customer Experience Professionals Association member inside exchange in San Diego, California. The keynote speaker for that particular event was Derrick Hall, the President and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks. And I have to tell you for somebody who is a lover of the game of baseball it was one of my interview highlights here on the show. And that isn’t only because I was talking to a major league baseball President and CEO, it was because Derrick Hall was fantastic and he is a leader of leaders in the major league baseball family.
And I say family, because Derrick talks a lot about the strength of family and he shared with us four virtues to live by that we can all benefit from. He talked about finding what you truly love, learning to overcome adversity, treating people well and appreciating the family. And in this interview you’re going to hear all of those things come out and be part of what Derek, not only talks, but then also lives.
And how at the D-backs they credit their core values which focus on people, relationships, integrity, learning and results. He also shared with us what he calls his circle of success that focuses in on community, culture, financial efficiency, fan experience and performance. At the Arizona Diamondbacks they talk about treating their employee’s fans and players better than any team in sports, and you know what, they are getting recognized for that performance. Under Derrick’s leadership they have won awards from the United Nations, the best place to work for eight straight years and named one of the most admired companies and has received top leadership awards amongst those most admired companies, received the Dreamer Award, the Arizona Business Leader award and been named as the best company to work for in Arizona and Forbes even named D-backs the best sports team to work for. But after getting opportunity to listen to Derrick’s keynote and interview I guarantee that there’s going to be a lot more awards still to come.
I do have to go ahead and let you know that there was some background noise during this interview because we were stuck in a hallway and near a service room and there was just a lot of action going on around there. But we still had a good time and I hope you will too, now, let’s listen in to Derrick Hall helping us get over the hump.
Okay, Fast Leader legion, I am excited to be able to introduce to you the guess that I have today. He is the host of ‘On the Couch with D Hall” and he’s also the President/CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Derrick Hall, he is someone who had grew up all over the country, because he’s father was in the newspaper business and that’s really helped him be the person he is today because he have the opportunity to visit and make friends and get interactions with a lot of different people. You’re really going to enjoy this interview, so make sure you go to iTunes and download and subscribe and share it with you friends. Okay, Derrick, I have given our folks just a little bit of information about you but could you please share with us, what is your current passion?
Derrick Hall: My passion really is my work and my family. I would say, passion for me is watching employees grow, respecting them, developing them but watching them to succeed is a pleasure of mine. We’ve been very fortunate where a lot of our employees have moved down in the leadership roles throughout other organizations and just knowing that we’ve really become the breeding grounds for successful and motivated leaders and that they go there to really pluck from us. I’m okay with that, because it moved on and advanced in their careers and we have products at the D-back server—that’s a passion of mine. Of course, I want to win on the field each and every day but I feel like we have to find a way to win off the field, this is important.
Jim Rembach: And your finding that continual drive and passion trying to find ways to overcome, you persevere all those things are really important to leaders. Oftentimes, we find a leadership quotes or something that kind of fuels us, we focus on those—in fact, when I just had the opportunity to several tweets during the speech that you at the Customer Experience Professional Association and you were dropping leadership quotes left and right. So, I’m looking forward to going back and listen to the recording of your speech and you sharing even more of those. But is there one that kind of drives you?
Derrick Hall: It has. For me, you look at our sport, you look at our history and significance of our sport on our country’s history and thank to Jackie Robinson and having grown up as a dodger fan and knowing the impact that Jackie had a knowing his wife Rachel and his daughter Sharon for so many years. Jackie had a quote, I think it epitomizes who we want to be as an organization given back to the community as a whole. But Jackie’s quote was: A life is not important except for the impact it has on others. And for a gentleman of Jackie’s stature and his struggles and everything that he went through to care more about other human beings than himself. He had gone through at time where he was not accepted and he was ridiculed and he was treated poorly and he changed baseball and he change American, but in the end what was most important for him was to impact the lives of others and I want us all to remember, I think that is as good a leadership quote you could ever hear.
Jim Rembach: There’s just so many different levels of really maturity that one into him saying that. But there was ever a time for you where you had to put something past you because it was—we call them a hump here on the show instead of challenges—but is there a time where you have to get over the hump where it just made you a better person?
Derrick Hall: Absolutely. I look to a season like we just had last year, it was a hump-full year long. We we’re not winning we couldn’t win, we had injuries, we had bad luck, it’s tough and it’s really challenges you, makes you look in the mirror—what else can I do, what am I doing wrong and you know you’re going to make changes. That’s always difficult to go through that as well but you become a stronger person for having gone through it, you know the better times are ahead where you’re going to celebrate and look back and think that’s why I went through what I did. And then personally, having overcome cancer to this point, knock on wood, and being a cancer survivor and being able to share my story with others, that’s about as large as a hump as anybody can have individually. It’s been a big part of our family, cancer, but making it a positive, making it more of a brother that a herd of more of an opportunity.
Jim Rembach: It’s really interesting when you were talking about cancer, and you were talking about the battle that you went through, you didn’t say, me or mine you said we. Where does that come from?
Derrick Hall: I don’t think you go through it alone and you shouldn’t and I feel terrible for people that do. I’m very fortunate with my diagnosis that we have a fraternity within baseball and I could lean on others. And I realized that others don’t have that opportunity and some that are horrified and scared obviously and going through it alone and don’t have information and the resources, we need to provide them with those. And so, building a network for others and a resource, educationally for others. When I say we I’m talking about my family because, unfortunately, it wasn’t just me that was impacted, I hurt them as well, so we had to get through together and it’s a team effort.
Jim Rembach: It definitely has been in a lot of ways for you as far as team is concerned, but when you look at all of the things that you have on your play, I’m sure there’s many, you plan on sure there’s many easy or even running such a huge influence on major league baseball as a whole, for someone who is a deep lover of the game, I really appreciate the work that you’re doing, if you will say one thing looking at it from a big picture perspective, what is one thing that is just really charging you, exciting you the most?
Derrick Hall: I think for me, watching where the sport is heading and seeing that other teams are now doing what we’ve always focused on and I think it was a time where we even kept it guarded and kept it to ourselves, although we knew it was working. Everything that we’re doing in the community and the fan experience, fan treatment and customer treatment—but this excites me charges me because we came to a point where we all realize we may compete on the field but we don’t off the field we have to share best practices, much like you’re doing now, here. And so, to be able to bring in like I have, the Nationals one on one, or the Astros one-on-one or the Phillies like we’ve done, the bringing in teams and saying, ‘Okay, let’s get out no pad or let’s tell [inaudible 8:34] what we’re doing right, that excites me because we all care about the future deeply of our sport and how to treat fans, something that didn’t necessarily share in the past.

Jim Rembach: Thank you for all on what you’re doing and we wish you the very best. Now we’re coming to the rapid part of our show and that’s the—Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Derrick, the Hump Day Hoedown is the piece where I ask you a lot of questions, you give me responses that are rapid but yet tough, alright? Are you ready to hoedown?
Derrick Hall: Let’s do it, let’s hoedown.

Jim Rembach: What is holding you back from being an even better leader today?

Derrick Hall: I think, with me it’s probably just resources—money. I think you don’t want to rely on money but we could do so much more if we have the resources. So, we win, we know those revenues are going to grow to and it will do more for fans.

Jim Rembach: Good. What is the best leadership advice you’ve ever received?

Derrick Hall: Well, best leadership advice came from my father who told me that I should know every employee’s name regardless of what their stature is and what their position is and I’ve always held true to that, I want to make sure that I know every one whether they’re security guard or usher, ticket taker or pouring sodas and we are a family.

Jim Rembach: That’s one heck of a legacies left for you. Can you share one of your personal habits that you feel strongly contributes to your leadership for life success?

Derrick Hall: I think it’s making sure that I spend as much quality time as I can with my family and making sure that you also have a partner in life who understands how busy and committed you are. So, with our kids growing up, my wife has always brought the kids to me. They come to me at the ballgames or at the ballpark to spend time with me on weekends. I do as much as I can with them at night when the teams on the road and I’m not, but I think it’s very important for everyone to have a balance life.

Jim Rembach: What is one book you would recommend to the Fast Leader legion. I know there’s many, and you talk and referenced many, but if there’s one that stands out for you as a go to, what would it be?

Derrick Hall: There’s so many leadership books that you hear or read about. I think recently, and this may sound crazy, for me it goes back to—I don’t want to reference a leadership book—I would say the one that probably had the most impact to me to tell you what a zap I am recently, it’s Marley and Me. I read it on a—and this I why I read it on a trip at a time when our team wasn’t doing very well and I remember being on airplane and I’m finishing this book and I’m just balling, and it made me realized that’s what life is about. I’ve got dogs at home, I’ve got a family an at home, I can relate to that book and it makes you realize what is the most important in life. Yes, I want to do as much as I can for my organization, and for our fans but at the end of the day it really comes back to family and it comes down to something, and simple and sweet and loyal as a dog. And that book had more impact on me than any leadership book I’ve read in the past.

Jim Rembach: That’s awesome. What we’ll do is we’ll provide a link to that on our show notes page which you’ll be able to find at Hall. Okay Derrick last question on our Hump Day Hoedown: You have the opportunity to go back, to be 25 years old again and you get to take one thing back with you that you’ve learned from a leadership and development from others perspective, that one thing, what one thing would you take back? And why?
Derrick Hall: What I learned recently, that I know now that I didn’t know when I was 25, there were two things. One, age doesn’t matter. I almost felt as if I have to prove myself because of my age and I have people that directly report to me that were older, so I felt that I wanted to show that I know more than them because they have been in the game 10 or 15 years longer than me, you don’t need to do that, they’ll respect you for your tough ** and for who you are as an individual.
Secondly, realizing now that it’s so much more important to allow your employees to grow. I think that if you’d asked me when I’m 25 if I wanted my employees to move on to other organization I would have said, No, and I feel they’re disloyal whereas now I think it’s a good thing. And I always encourage my employees that if they have an opportunity to go and don’t look back and have no regrets and one day we’re going to work together again. But I say to all of them, go be a star, go do you thing and go be a star. When I was 25, I didn’t understand that and I think it’s important to show the support and the guidance and direction for young employees.
Jim Rembach: Thank you so much for sharing all your knowledge and wisdom, Derrick. Is there a way that our Fast Leader legion can get in touch with you?
Derrick Hall: Yes there is. They can go to our website, or they could also look for me as well on or through my personal email,
Jim Rembach: Thanks so much for sharing and we thank you for helping us get over the hump. Woot Woot!
Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader Show today. For recaps, links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over to the so we can help you move onward and upward faster.


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