Today I attended the remembrance service for Winston Wallin, former president of Pilsbury and CEO of Medtronic. Cimbura.com LLC technology developed a custom FileMaker database for Wallin Education Partners that tracks over $20 million of scholarships awarded to thousands of students. My interaction with Win came through his sincere appreciation which he personally expressed for completing this database on schedule and with required features to keep the foundation operational.
Win’s life was characterized by stewardship of the resources that were trusted to him. He saw it important to accept managable risk. He once joked to a friend “This will give you something to think about when you wake up at night.” He believed that if you lay out the problem clearly then the solution will become evident.
He was an excellent listener and valued authenticity. He would not only ask for the positives but also for the negatives so that he could assist in improving the situation. Steve Lewis, former president of Carleton College talked about a “trash” session initiated by Win with the staff at the college…”OK…What don’t you like about working here?” Win asked. I’m sure this led to an interesting discussion…and the opportunity to be real and make constructive improvements.
Besides being a great listener, Win was described as humerous, compassionate, simple, organized, and tough. He was a unifier and math genious. He freely gave advice and helped others. Most important was a humility that allowed him to be approachable. One of his favorite places to eat was White Castle.
Win left a legacy in the lives of so many students that he assisted to improve their lives and the lives of those that they would touch after they completed their education. He saw a need to provide hope and believed that the start of a life shouldn’t necessarily determine the finish. He knew that the wealthy didn’t have a monopoly on creativity or intelligence and so he did what he considered to be his greatest accomplishment through sharing his resources. Win thought that people shouldn’t be limited by how much money they can make but they should be limited in how much money they can spend on themselves. His friend and colleague Bob Griffin said that Win left a legacy from his actions that spoke louder than sermons from 100 pulpits.