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BlackBerry Classic Q and A: Pro Hockey Hall of Famer and Toronto Maple Leafs Executive, Brendan Shanahan

Brendan_Shanahan_HiRes_without_ClassicAs a hometown hero, Brendan Shanahan has arguably one of the most rewarding jobs in hockey – President of Hockey Operations for the storied Toronto Maple Leafs NHL franchise. For Shanahan, who won 3 Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings and other honors over his 21-year career, this role doesn’t come without its challenges.

The ability to stay productive, at the top of his executive game, and drive success for the organization, is reliant on having the right tools. In Shanahan’s case, they include his BlackBerry Bold 9900, and now, the BlackBerry Classic, which Shanahan says has the familiar, yet upgraded BlackBerry experience he loves, and which propels his productivity. I had the opportunity to ask him about his philosophy of leadership and success, including how his Classic helps him reach these pinnacles:

Halliwell: Coming home: what does it mean to be here?

Shanahan: Well, you know for me, I grew up obviously loving hockey and loving the Leafs. They’re my favorite team. I understand the desire and the passion to get back into the conversation about winning Stanley Cups here. I know what kind of a challenge that is, and for me, it’s a personal one.

Halliwell: What is your leadership style?

Shanahan: I like to surround myself with smart, talented people and then let them do their work . . .put them in a position to shine. To me, it’s about building a team of people with diverse talents and perspectives, so that the group is never in a position where they’re constantly agreeing with themselves, so that we’re always pushing ourselves to think of new things and try to be better. It’s an incredibly competitive league.

Halliwell: Along that line, what advice would you give to young professionals or young athletes trying to get ahead?

Shanahan: One of the best parts about being in a sport like hockey, you have to rely on your teammates so much, and I think it’s the same for executives. It’s about relying on the people that you’re working with.

Halliwell: How important do you think communication is in your position?

Shanahan: Well it’s incredibly important. I think that to be able to communicate with a large group of people quickly, efficiently and even just to be copied on what other groups within our department are doing is powerful. Knowledge is power.

Halliwell: With communication playing such a big role, how much do you depend on your BlackBerry device?

Shanahan: I’m comfortable with my BlackBerry. I have it with me all the time and it’s something that, for me, is my connection to not just the people I work with but my family as well.

Halliwell: What is your favorite aspect of your current BlackBerry Bold 9900, what you’re looking forward to with the upgraded BlackBerry Classic?

Shanahan: I’m just comfortable with the Bold and the fact is now, I get to go to the Classic and have a lot of the same buttons and the same functions but with more power. . . a more upgraded version. I like things that work and I’m glad that they’ve improved the model that I’m used to and that I’m going to be getting a better device but with the comfort of all the things I’m used to.

Halliwell: Going back, what did the Maple Leafs mean to you growing up?

Shanahan: Well, the Maple Leafs players, I looked up to them and they were role models and to this day, I’m excited. Darryl Sittler is somebody that not only lives up to the man I thought he was when I was a little kid but is somebody now that I can talk to and get advice from and gain from his perspective as well, having been such a fantastic captain here in Toronto and still involved with the organization.

Halliwell: Is there anything about your newish position (Shanahan joined the Leafs in April 2014) that surprised you?

Shanahan: Well I think you’re constantly learning but you have to always be prepared to learn and have the right tools to learn everyday. But I can’t say that anything has really surprised me. I think that maybe because I’ve come in to this job with a very broad expectation of all the things that can and may happen.

Halliwell: Lastly, what inspires you to be the best you can be, everyday?

Shanahan: I’m just a competitive person and I’m a passionate person, and so when I take something on, I take it on.

I absolutely loved his last answer; I’m truly inspired.

The BlackBerry Classic brings that familiar, trusted and proven BlackBerry form factor to an upgraded device. With 60 percent larger screen, 3x faster web browsing and 50 percent longer battery life than the BlackBerry Bold 9900, this should be your next device if you’re out to get things done. Buy it today.

BlackBerry is working with carriers and partners to deliver BlackBerry Classic to customers around the world. North American customers can purchase the BlackBerry Classic online today through and for $449 in the U.S. and $499 in Canada. More availability information here.

*Note that pricing differs per market

Donny Halliwell

About Donny Halliwell

Donny is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at BlackBerry and Former Editor-in-Chief for the Inside BlackBerry blogs. There's no disputing, #TeamBlackBerry is awesome. I'm pumped to have the opportunity to talk with you and bring you the latest and greatest from Inside BlackBerry every day. In my spare time, I can be found helping entrepreneurs and startup companies grow their business. I spend the rest, obsessing over the auto industry, or enjoying music. Follow me on Twitter or Google+