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Notes: Recapping Brad Holmes’ podcast appearance on ‘The GM Experience’

The Lions GM spoke with former Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff about leadership, organizational philosophy, and diversity.

NFL: MAR 01 Scouting Combline Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mentioned as one of our Notes items on Thursday, former Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff posted a podcast episode featuring current Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes the next day. The podcast, titled “The GM Experience,” is available on various platforms like Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

The series is a nice project about a year in the making, but as a listener it’s clear there’s a more personal bond at work here between Holmes and Dimitroff. Indeed, in the early part of the recording, Dimitroff even admits as much (18:26 in the Spotify episode):

It’s where I knew, even from our early discussions, that we had a bond that I appreciate - and i’m not being hokey about that. Sometimes, I have an immediate feel like ‘ah, there’s something about this cat that I really think has an interesting element of bond.’

More important than any particular statement or story is the general atmosphere of the conversation. The biggest takeaway from the podcast episode did not really have anything to do with any one topic. Rather, it’s the sense of character, confidence, and world-view expressed by Holmes. Our Jeremy Reisman is right on the mark here:

When you listen to the podcast, they talk about the shared experience of going from being director of college scouting to general manager (Dimitroff’s hiring by Atlanta was from a spot as New England’s director of college scouting), but even more similarities and compatibilites are at work. Holmes brought up lessons and stories from his former boss (current Los Angeles Rams general manager) Les Snead many times during the episode, crediting Snead with teaching him a lot and influencing his own personal development. Again, this is a link between the two because Snead was Dimitroff’s director of player personnel at Atlanta for years. When Brad Holmes speaks about the importance of being authentic, he is describing a philosophy that could have come straight from Thomas Dimitroff.

That’s why there is no surprise a sense of closeness and familiarity shines through during the podcast episode; these are two football professionals with a ton in common under the surface. Now, this is an hour talking about organizational vision and management rather than a stream of draft season hot takes. To give you an idea of the type of conversation Dimitroff had with Holmes, here’s Dimitroff near the end of the hour-long talk (1:00:43 in the Spotify episode):

I wanted to make sure that we talked about things - it wasn’t about the specifics of who you draft in the fourth round or who your number five linebacker is. I couldn’t give a flip about that. This was about bigger picture stuff that I think can help a lot of people along the way. . . where people are able to listen to the human side of a general manager - and general managers in this league who have so much to offer the insight of sport, but (also) business in general.

MLive’s Ben Raven wrote an article about the podcast episode with a number of interesting quotes you can check out there, but the general flow of the discussion went like this:

2:11 to 12:36: Becoming a GM, the experience going from being a director of college scouting straight to being a general manager

13:00 to 30:55: Leadership and communication style, authenticity, dealing with the unexpected, and the importance of having a good team

31:05 to 46:45: Managing the GM-coach collaborative relationship, interactions with the owner and team president, and continuing to “learn to lead”

46:46 to 58:30: Diversity and inclusion in the league as well as the Lions organization, the importance of developing up and down the entire hierarchy at all levels to create a talent pipeline, and respecting work-life balance

Clocking in at over 67 minutes, it will take a while to get through in its entirety, but I agree with Mike (and Jeremy) that it’s worth a listen. Now, on to the rest of today’s Notes:

  • In Erik Schlitt’s mock draft roundup, we saw that wide receivers are very often connected with the Lions at pick 32 and their day two selections. Here’s the LA Times’ Ryan Kartje with some info showing the team is doing due diligence on all wide receivers, even the ones unlikely to be available:

  • Hat tip to The Athletic’s Chris Burke for spotting this: