How I Work: 14 questions with Charlotte Checkers COO Tera Black

How I Work: 14 questions with Charlotte Checkers COO Tera Black
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As the COO of the Charlotte Checkers, Tera Black is responsible for curating the entire fan experience. She’s currently the only female COO in minor league hockey.

I knew I would like Tera when I walked into her office and spotted several pieces of cat-themed décor. Cat moms have an unspoken understanding.

We chatted about her day-to-day within the Checkers organization, why exercise drives her schedule, and her super specific but smart technique for cutting mangoes. She was generous with her time, down-to-earth, and engaging.

Here’s how Tera works.

checkers-hockey-with-tera-black-charlotte

Basics

Title: COO, Charlotte Checkers

Office location: Epicentre

Phone: iPhone

Computer: Mac

What are the gadgets you can’t live without?

I have a wallet that my sister-in-law got for me. I’m not really a gadget person, but this is amazing. You know how people can swipe your information? It’s got a metal protector and it’s super small and compact.

That and my Yeti tumbler.

What are the apps you can’t live without?

Spotify.

Here Comes The Bus. It buys us a precious 60 more seconds each morning, which is crucial when you’re trying to get an 11-year-old on the bus.

The weather app.

Power School. Another CMS-related app. I can check my kids’ grades and their assignments.

Chopt.

Live360. When you have a driving teenager, it tells you where they are at all times. You can upgrade it to see their driving history.

What are your social media habits?

With a pro sports team, I need to be actively engaged and educated on what’s available.

I gave up Facebook in its entirety a year ago. I felt it wasn’t something I enjoyed. We still have it for the Checkers, and it’s wonderful for that.

I have Instagram. I have Snapchat. I have LinkedIn. I have Twitter.

My favorite is Instagram. You can be as engaged as you’d like to be. My kids started an Instagram account for our cats.

What’s your sleep routine like?

We go to bed around 11 p.m. every night, and because of the critters in our house we generally wake up about 5:30 a.m.

What about your exercise regimen?

Exercise is extraordinarily important to me and to our entire working environment.

Everybody in our office has a gym membership to Charlotte Athletic Club.

I believe if you’re happy and healthy and fit and strong then your work environment is a lot easier.

The majority of us head over to the gym at lunch.

What’s your commute like?

I live three miles from here. I listen to podcasts in the car on the way here.

I listen to “Armchair Expert” and “Level the Playing Field,” which is about women in sports.

I also listen to “Up and Vanished” and I like “Stuff You Should Know.”

What’s a typical day like?

My days are generally centered around finding ways to be entertaining and to have a really great product, despite what we can’t control on the ice.

I have an unbelievable staff, and their departments are like mini businesses. I work with them on different ideas and on how to be creative.

Every day is generally centered around making sure all of our ducks are in a row.

My philosophy is “prior planning prevents poor performance.”

We’re already working on next season, despite the fact that we have a good portion of this season in front of us.

The city is building a building in between Ovens Auditorium and the Coliseum and our office space is going to be over there, so that’s a big project right now.

I’m never really off the clock and I don’t really want to be.

What’s the first thing you do when you walk into the office?

I walk around and say hi to everybody.

I’ll open my emails, though I’ve generally already opened all of them.

I look at my to do list and start going through the things I didn’t get to the day before.

read any sports business news.

I go to see if there’s coffee made, and if not I make it.

What’s a skill they don’t teach you in school that they should?

Relationship building and the art of not burning bridges.

What’s an unusual habit you have and why do you have it?

I drink a huge glass of water first thing when I wake up.

I read it helps your organs to kickstart themselves before you start putting coffee or anything else in your body, and it knocks off some of my water intake in the morning.

I also refuse to book lunch meetings. I feel like the lunch meeting generally takes way too long. It’s the time I carve out for my staff and myself to go to the gym.

What’s an everyday thing you’re really good at?

I have incredible spatial awareness. I worked as a grocery store bagger when I was going to college, so I have an incredible ability to see a whole pile of things on a table and know how to fit those things into a bag or a box.

Also, mangoes. I have a really incredible way of cutting mangoes.

To be successful you need to be ________.

Organized.

Surrounded by good people.

In my business, you need to understand that earning a great deal of money doesn’t necessarily make you rich.

What’s an interview question you always ask?

Where did you intern?

What advice would you give to your 30-year-old self?

Appreciate the time before social media becomes a thing. My kids will never know a time without that sort of superficial environment of what reality is and what reality isn’t.

When I was 30, MySpace was the only platform and there was so much more time to just be.

I would tell myself to really appreciate that. There’s so much more distraction and white noise and things to sift through now.


Responses were lightly edited for clarity. Love learning how leaders in Charlotte get stuff done? Here’s our full How I Work series including interviews with NASCAR’S Jill Gregory, lawyer Michael A. DeMayo and restauranteur Frank Scibelli.

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