From the COO of the Salt Lake City Olympics:
Beginning in May 1999, I worked with Mitt virtually every day for almost three years. In my opinion, he is an extraordinary leader who faced an initial situation even worse than what was known by the public and led the Games to a great international success.
Mitt did not want this job. He was leading the company he founded, Bain Capital, one of the leading private equity firms in the world. He was living in his home community of Boston. It was his wife, Ann, along with several close friends, who encouraged him to move into public service. But once he accepted, he gave it everything he had.
I witnessed how bad things really were. We had a severe financial crisis, horrible morale, no operational plan and were facing a potential indictment from the Justice Department. I had never witnessed a worse situation. Regarding the financial situation, I also served as chief financial officer for two years, so I knew the books inside and out. The financial deficit really was $400 million in spite of the significant revenues already secured. In early 1999, the organization responsible for new sponsorships said that the marketing program was dead. Most potential sponsors and other organizations did not want to associate with us because of the scandal. The challenges were real and deep.
Mitt walked into this situation — what he termed “an empty elevator shaft” with boundless energy. He immediately focused the organization on integrity, transparency, fiscal integrity and organizational excellence — all while building morale in a difficult, post-scandal environment. Mitt was very hands-on, personally visiting potential sponsors to slowly turn the financial tide. He reviewed the numbers in detail and could see any budget issues moments after being handed detailed financial information. His leadership rebuilt support for the Games. Confidence and morale in SLOC soared.
There’s more. Thanks to reader Deena for the tip.