This memorial website was created in memory of our friend, colleague, mentor, and loved one, Tim Lathrop. We will remember him forever.  Memorial service to be held at the Bakken Museum in Minneapolis on May 6 at 4pm.

Posted by Joan Soles on May 9, 2019
Judy, Ken and I are so sorry for your loss. We so enjoyed meeting you both and visiting with you at Hinckley. And always fun dancing!
We loved looking through the photos. Looks like you and Tim had some great times and made great memories.
Posted by Harrison Hudnall on May 6, 2019
I met Tim for the first time in his office at the Lexington building and knew instantly that I wanted to join his team of Field Clinical Engineers. I was in awe of him and how he spoke about the excellence, honor, and responsibility of the team that he led. I am so grateful for Tim giving me that opportunity to join the team that I will forever be associated with.
Tim had an ability to connect personally, with total trust, and in a way that made him loved by so many. He was a true leader.
I miss Tim. I send my prayers and deepest sympathies to the Lathrops.
Posted by Jailene Butts on April 28, 2019
Tim is someone I will always remember, and he had a true impact on me and my career at Medtronic. I met Tim when I started at Medtronic in 1999. As soon as I learned of the field organization that he lead (which had 18 FCEs at the time), I was intrigued. I set up time to discuss his field team within a couple of months of starting, and the opportunity to join his field org when they created the FCRA role. When interviewing for the position, Tim recalled meeting with me when I started, and he knew I would be interested. The field team has always had a family feel to it, and I attribute that to Tim himself. I had the opportunity to learn great leadership skills from the very best and feel very blessed for this. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to Judy and Tim's family.
Posted by Scott Ransom on April 26, 2019
Tim was such an inspiration to everyone he managed. He knew in his core how to glue an organization with morale and build relationships from the bottom up. I would get random calls from Tim during the week, expecting them to be about compliance or a physician issue, only to find he had a question such as "if you were driving a car the speed of light, and turned on the headlights, would they be able to shine on the road?" These calls were just as much about building relationship as they were about satisfying his curiosity.
Tim always had a unique perspective on life and was full of surprises. I remember during a drive with Tim from Huntsville AL to Atlanta GA we saw a beet stand on the side of the road. He insisted I pull over while he hopped out and bought a quart of beets. He explained he was on an Only-cabbage-and-beets diet, and already had cabbage at his hotel. The next morning he regaled me with how he'd made cabbage and beet soup using only the coffee maker in his room....yum!
Tim was one of the most caring individuals I know, and helped make my time at Medtronic one of the most special in my career. He will be surely be missed.
Posted by Kevin Belteau on April 26, 2019
BBQ –
Who doesn’t remember Tim’s love of BBQ and even more specifically BBQ sauce. I can remember on one of Tim’s first trips down to visit me in Florida. He asked if we could stop for lunch to get BBQ. Of course I was always up for BBQ myself. However, before lunch he said we needed to stop at Walmart to get a couple gallon containers. When I asked why – he just replied “it’s for the sauce”. I wasn’t sure I understood until we got to Shorty’s and Tim asked the guy behind the counter to fill up the jugs with BBQ sauce. To say the least I was amazed. I have a theory that during retirement Tim and Judy spent the winters in Florida not to skirt the frigid Minneapolis winter but instead came to Florida each winter to stock up on his favorite BBQ sauce from Shorty’s. :) My memories of Tim will always give me a reason to smile.
Posted by Rachel Jenner on April 25, 2019
Tim will be greatly missed. He always greeted us with a smile and showed so much interest in our lives and adventures. He lived a life full of joy and left quite a legacy at Medtronic and beyond. We love you Rach, Judy & Jeff!
Posted by Angela Schmidt Churchill on April 24, 2019
I am a friend of Tim's daughter Rachel. I'm sending hugs and love to each member of the Lathrop family as well as all those that knew Tim. Although I grew up with Rachel, I really only spent the last few years getting to know Tim. I will miss seeing him at the finish line of the Twin Cities marathon and 10 mile. I will miss the pick-ups from the airport in the minivan, with lots of questions about our trips - Rachel and I love to travel! I will cherish the stories I'm reading from others that knew Tim.
Posted by Jeff Lathrop on April 24, 2019
A few years ago I noticed my dad wearing the same white Reebok dry fit with yellow stripes on each side. Every time I would visit Clearwater he would have it on. The next day he would come out of his room with it on. I finally said “Dad, you have to wear a clean shirt!” He said it is clean Jeff, I wouldn’t put a dirty shirt on! He followed with “I couldn’t pass up a deal so I bought 10 of them!”
Stay tuned for more stories. Miss you so much Dad! Reading all the posts from your colleagues at Medtronic makes me wish I had the chance to work for you....
Posted by Jeff Lathrop on April 24, 2019
This is Gloria; Papa Tim’s youngest granddaughter. I loved it whenever we would call him, he would ask us how many boyfriends we had! I was only 7 when he started asking me that!! I also loved it when he would sit me down and give me long, long pep talks and just talks and advice that he thought would be helpful in my life going on. I still remember them all today.
Love your favorite family member, Gloria Lathrop
Posted by Amber Hebert on April 24, 2019
I consider Tim to be person responsible for bringing my husband and I together. Keith (my boyfriend at the time) had just been hired and was working for Tim and we took him out for dinner in College Station, TX during one of their recruiting trips. I was about to move to NY for grad school and Keith was working in Kansas City - we were both pretty independent people and hadn't really talked about marriage at that point. When Keith went to get us all drinks, Tim just looked at me and said "so do you love the guy or what?" And then proceeded to tell me that we should stop wasting our time and go for it (get married) cause we were a great match. What I didn't know, was that he proceeded to tell Keith the same thing when I went to the restroom. Consequently, Tim was right (as usual) - we were engaged a short time later and have been married almost 20 years now. To this day, I love how Tim didn't beat around the bush and always knew how to mentor and coach others (in personal and professional matters :) He is the reason that we've had a great life together and he will be remembered for this, and so much more. He's been such an instrumental person in both my life and in Keith's and we feel so very fortunate for that. - Amber
Posted by Scott Lewis on April 23, 2019
I'm saddened to hear of Tim's passing and our thoughts are with the entire Lathrop family. I always knew that when Tim would come out and do site visits, we'd get our 10,000 steps in - well before it was fashionable to do so. Tim's dedication to his family and his employees set an example that many of us have tried to live up to.
Posted by John Roberts on April 23, 2019
At the time I was hired, the FCE organization had two separate managers - Tim and John Rueter with Tim having the eastern United States and John the western. While there was a friendly rivalry between the groups, it was always clear that we had one focus - to conduct our clinical studies at the highest levels of accuracy, integrity, and safety while maintaining our important relationships with our investigators. After leaving the group for a few years, I rejoined at Tim's urging, and, by that time, Tim was the sole manager of the group. Tim clearly enjoyed his role as FCE manager and loved to mentor, not just about the job, but about other aspects of life as well. When Tim visited, I could always count on lots of walking, lots of talking, and lots of BBQ. Tim was meticulous (anyone who saw his lawn could see that) and yet he could be relaxed and easygoing at the same time. Within Medtronic, Tim built a legacy of a quality organization that lives on and in the people he hired who continue to hear his words of encouragement and passion.
I feel blessed to have had Tim as a manager. He was, by any reasonable definition, a true servant leader.
My most heartfelt condolences to Judy, Rachel, and Jeff.
Posted by Ken Hanne on April 22, 2019
I was so fortunate to get to know and work with Tim during my first couple years in the field, as an FCRA. I was always impressed with the pride he had in his field organization, and the work he and his field did! 
I will never forget the day I was hired into the field organization - I was so thrilled and proud to be a part of it! I sure wish I could have had more time with Tim, as he was an incredible man, and he truly is a part of why I'm still so proud to be in the Field organization! I pray for comfort for Tims family during this difficult time. I will never forget Tim!
Posted by Mark Mayotte on April 22, 2019
Tim hired me as an FCE and into Medtronic in 1994. I quickly learned how fortunate I was to be a part of such a wonderful company - and even more fortunate to be a part of the FCE organization. Tim set and drove the culture in this organization which still continues today. His passion for the organization and Medtronic never wavered. I was saddened to hear about his sudden death, but know that his legacy will live on at Medtronic and through all the individuals that Tim came into contact with. God bless his family during these difficult times.
Posted by Jim Steeves on April 22, 2019
Tim hired me as the first FCE in Canada around 1989 and was responsible for me having a wonderfully rewarding career for another 21 years until I semi-retired.
He would travel with me to sites and was very gracious with all our customers/investigators. I learned that during his early years with Medtronic he was up to Toronto General visiting a Dr. David MacGregor for the old epicardial lead study. Dr. MacGregor kept telling him to call him David not doctor but Tim couldn’t quite do it – much to the doctor’s amusement. Customers really enjoyed meeting him and appreciated his attention.
He was a fierce defender of the FCEs: he fought for more appropriate salaries and bonuses (FCE’s were being “stolen” by our competition). He strongly encouraged additional training and having us help with training in-house staff (TEI). He strongly encouraged team building with annual meetings – often in Hawk’s Cay resort. This was always a successful opportunity to get to know our in-house teams and learn from our field colleagues.
We enjoyed long walks with Tim.
I am sad that he has gone and sad that I haven’t kept in touch over the years.
Bless you Tim.
Posted by Bob Cohen on April 20, 2019
I had the opportunity to work for Tim as an FCE from 1981-1989. He was an outstanding manager who gave it all for the entire FCE organization. We always had a blast on his field trips to my territory, and meeting our customers. I always had to locate an “economic” hotel and restaurant at his request. Sometimes he even brought a can of tuna fish to grab a quick meal. He strongly encouraged me to fly Peoples Express Airlines to the cities I served, as fares were always $29....even though I had to drive an extra 90 minutes to get to Newark, NJ, instead of Philadelphia, where I lived. He definitely saved Medtronic a fortune! Lol
   He was in his glory when new products were entering clinical trials. When the FCE organization was selected to be the pilot users for the first laptop communications (using a Radio Shack TRS 80) he was ecstatic. Financially, Tim and I shared financial ideas. We both cried in October, 1987, when the stock market and Medtronic crashed to nearly 2/3 its prior value. I was afraid to tell my wife. But Tim was right, it would return.......by 2000, several more splits occurred, a great run,
   I left the FCE organization in 1989, for a Medtronic career in sales, until I retired in 2015. It was a difficult decision, knowing Tim, would no longer be my manager. I wish I had kept in better contact.
   He was an outstanding individual, had a great sense of humor, and a wonderful person. He would do anything for his FCE’s.
   My sympathies go out to Judy, Rachael, and Jeffrey.
Bob Cohen
Posted by Andrina Hougham on April 19, 2019
I had the great pleasure of working with Tim Lathrop a number of years ago at Medtronic. He was such a compassionate leader and nurturer teams. This included those he hired as well as peers and management. His true gift was finding talent. He was constantly recruiting for Medtronic. When he had the opportunity to hire individuals, he had a slate of talented individuals to bring through the interview process. Once this talent was hired, he developed these individuals into future leaders through constant coaching. This included recommending inspirational reading on building organizations, financial advice, parenting advice, you name it he provided it. Tim's teams made tremendous contributions to Medtronic and patients by supporting on-time recruitment and high quality completion of clinical trials. These trials contributed to many product approvals which have impacted millions of lives. Tim leaves a strong legacy of leadership that will continue to improve the lives of others. I feel so fortunate to have know him and so sad to know that I will not have another opportunity to see is smiling face. My heart goes out to Judy and to Tim's family. 
I think that Tim is the epitome of this poem
by Raymond Carver
Late Fragment
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so? 
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
Posted by George Perlic on April 19, 2019
I had the pleasure of working for Tim for many years, and he was an awesome manager and leader. I learned many valuable lessons from him, and I feel very fortunate to have known him. I was shocked to learn about his death, and I wish I would have stayed in touch with him more frequently after his retirement. I hope Judy and Tim’s family find some comfort in knowing how many people have been positively affected by Tim during his time on earth.
Posted by Larry Dole on April 18, 2019
Within days of my starting as a clinical study manager at Medtronic, Tim sat me down for a talk. He warmly welcomed me, he talked about and reinforced the Medtronic Mission and what my role was. In his unique and passionate way, he explained to me in no uncertain terms that my success as a study manager and the success of the study, was directly related to how I interacted with his FCE's. Oh....and by the way...."don't screw it up Larry!" This was of course followed by a big Tim laugh. But I got the message (he was, of course, absolutely right). Over the years, I came to know Tim better also as a friend and not just a colleague. Too many good times, stories, and laughs to reflect here without eliciting too many tears. My heartfelt sympathy to Judy and Tim's family and also to those he led in the organization he founded. We lost a genuinely decent and kind human being that inspired many. His legacy is forever intact.

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Recent Tributes
Posted by Joan Soles on May 9, 2019
Judy, Ken and I are so sorry for your loss. We so enjoyed meeting you both and visiting with you at Hinckley. And always fun dancing!
We loved looking through the photos. Looks like you and Tim had some great times and made great memories.
Posted by Harrison Hudnall on May 6, 2019
I met Tim for the first time in his office at the Lexington building and knew instantly that I wanted to join his team of Field Clinical Engineers. I was in awe of him and how he spoke about the excellence, honor, and responsibility of the team that he led. I am so grateful for Tim giving me that opportunity to join the team that I will forever be associated with.
Tim had an ability to connect personally, with total trust, and in a way that made him loved by so many. He was a true leader.
I miss Tim. I send my prayers and deepest sympathies to the Lathrops.
Posted by Jailene Butts on April 28, 2019
Tim is someone I will always remember, and he had a true impact on me and my career at Medtronic. I met Tim when I started at Medtronic in 1999. As soon as I learned of the field organization that he lead (which had 18 FCEs at the time), I was intrigued. I set up time to discuss his field team within a couple of months of starting, and the opportunity to join his field org when they created the FCRA role. When interviewing for the position, Tim recalled meeting with me when I started, and he knew I would be interested. The field team has always had a family feel to it, and I attribute that to Tim himself. I had the opportunity to learn great leadership skills from the very best and feel very blessed for this. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to Judy and Tim's family.
his Life

Eulogy - Tim Lathrop - "ALL-IN" on Life

Tim Lathrop -- ALL - IN on Life

Good Afternoon.  It is amazing to see so many familiar faces here today.  I am Nick Bartelt. I had the pleasure of working for and with Tim for 15 years at Medtronic in the Field Clinical Engineering Organization that he helped found and grow.

Tim led the highest performing team I’ve ever been a part of.  They also happen to be the most amazing group of people I’ve had the pleasure to know.  COINCIDENCE?

I joined the group in 1991, became a manager in 98, and took over the group from Tim in 2006 when he retired.  AND… I met my wife Susan in the FCE Organization.

Tim helped me realize my passion for people management and coaching during our time together.  And most importantly he instantly became a very good friend.

“ALL-IN” is a popular sports phrase used today.  To be “ALL-IN” means to be fully engaged, fully committed.  Companies today survey employees to gauge their engagement.  Tim didn’t need surveys. His team was ALL-IN, because he was ALL-IN.  In fact, 13 years after Tim’s retirement, today’s Field Clinical Organizations scores so far off the charts on Engagement that each new HR reps think there must be a mistake!!

But Tim wasn’t just ALL-IN at work, he was ALL-IN on LIFE.  I’d like to share a few stories of Tim’s ALL-IN approach to EVERYTHING.

Interviewing:

Tim was ALL IN on interviewing and recruiting…  Most of us have a remarkable Tim Interview story.  My interview process lasted 3+ years...

I still remember how passionately Tim described the FCE job, organization, mission, and how only the best of the best could hope to join this organization.  I started interviewing Tim while I was a Medtronic intern and in my last year of my undergrad engineering degree. He convinced me to go back and get my Masters prior to joining the FCEs.  Tim didn’t just send me away to get my degree… He became on of my Graduate advisors. He helped me pick classes, reviewed my grades, and made sure I was going to earn the highest possible GPA…. Tim was ALL-IN ...

Tim was also ALL-IN on Dieting…  Oh my GOSH…. I had no idea..

One day, he calls me and tells me that I was getting a little heavy, and I should consider losing some weight…  He didn’t propose a collaboration, but a contest! Not just any contest, but a complex set of targets, milestones, penalties and rules.  He was ALL - IN.

We had many “weight bets” over the years.  Many of you may have also participated. Doing so was exhausting.  Tim would text, multiple times per day… What did you eat today… All I’ve eaten is cabbage and beets.  I am going to CRUSH you Bartelt!! There were graphs and tables. There were written agreements.

One year in particular, the bet was designed with a big penalty for the loser… We sold “cream pie in-the-face rights” to anyone who would donate to United way.  Many Many FCEs bought many many pies. The weigh-in was to occur at our annual meeting in Minnesuing. I met my goal. Tim didn’t; missed by ½ a pound. Everyone offered to give it to him (it was a really old scale)... He insisted on honoring the terms.  One by one, FCEs planted pies on his face… Probably the only time I saw him look the just the littlest bit defeated. But, Tim was ALL-IN

Tim was ALL-IN on Training… FCE training was a 6 to 9 month process.  And according to Tim it was the most important 6 - 9 months of your career as an FCE.

No FCE ever score less that 95% on the Field Training exams…  No FCE ever failed the NASPE industry exam. Don’t be the first…  Your investment in your training will impact your success in the Field.  Don’t embarrass me.. ALL-IN

Once you were trained…

Tim was ALL in on Motivation -- Meeting and Exceeding Objectives was the holy grail…  

If we don’t hit this number, we are going to “Swirl the Drain” together.  Don’t let me down!!  Who had the most enrollments??  Who had the quickest activation??  Who had the fewest queries?? It was all about excellence, driving the business goals, and most importantly delighting the customers.

Tim was a master at setting the bar very very high, but within reach.  This led to motivation and engagement.

Tim built an organization with a one-of-a-kind culture.  It was fiercely competitive, but even more collaborative.  If you needed help, you simply sent a text asking for help, you got half a dozen offers within minutes.  FCE were willing to drop everything, fly across the country, and cover an implant without a second thought.  It was magical. Undescribable… it was ALL IN

But,... What Tim was most famous for was WALKING

Tim was ALL-IN on walking

Tim walked and walked and walked.  He was the Medtronic Forrest Gump.

He walked Grandma’s Marathon 16 times.  Many times wearing his crocs (the best shoes ever)  ALL - IN

He conducted virtually all of our 1:1 meetings during walks.  If Tim was traveling with you, you’d better clear your calendar, find some BBQ, and hope it wasn’t raining, or below zero…

He didn’t want to walk for 30 minutes, his target was 2, 3, 4 hours.  You’d better have a course and a plan.

Finally, Tim was ALL-IN on coaching and mentoring…

I owe much of what I know about coaching and mentoring to Tim.

Anyone who knew Tim, was probably on the receiving end of this talent.

He could coach you without you knowing it.  He would gently steer you in a direction, that turned out to be your optimal direction (whether you knew it yet or not) …

He was the master.

His coaching was not limited to business, he would coach on investing, hobbies, home buying, marriage, best BBQ sauce … nothing was off limits -

Tim coached the whole person, he invented “People First Leadership”.

He was ALL-IN

I could go on and on...but

In Summary:

Tim was an amazing person, a great friend, and the best manager I’ve ever had.

Many of us who worked for time would eventually realize:  When your first boss is this good, you didn’t know how good you had it!

Tim expected us to strive without reserve to be our very BEST.

Dedication to be the very BEST, does not seem as common today.

In Tim’s honor, I ask that everyone here recommit to being our very BEST, Commit to be ALL- IN in LIFE! (or walk 26 miles in a pair of crocs)

Thank You for listening.




Obituary

Timothy Jon Lathrop, age 71, passed suddenly on March 30th while wintering in Clearwater Beach, FL.Tim was born in San Francisco, CA on June 24th, 1947.He attended high school in St. Petersburg where he met his bride to be, Judy.He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of South Florida and his masters at the University of Hartford. After college, both Tim and Judy felt a strong calling to serve in the Peace Corps.This calling led them to the beautiful country of Liberia, West Africa, where their son Jeffrey (tribal name, Sundaygar) was born.They spent three incredible years in Liberia and they were probably the most formative years for Tim.He achieved great satisfaction in teaching the sciences in both the Nursing and Medical Schools in Monrovia.Tim was responsible for establishing the first EKG unit in the country.He also helped start the first Nursing School program, as well as has help administrate JFK Hospital in Liberia.Upon leaving the country due to the unfortunate civil war, Tim secured an interview with Medtronic here in Minnesota.After learning about Medtronic’s Mission, he felt compelled to move the family and be part of this revolutionary biomedical device company.Tim was considered one of the best people managers Medtronic has ever had.He spent 31 years managing at Medtronic and retired in 2006.His daughter Rachel is following in his footsteps and has now been at Medtronic for 20 years.Early in his retirement, Tim found a passion for walking.He walked 900 miles during his first winter in Florida.He also walked a total of 16 Grandma’s Marathons.He loved attending live music and his heroes have always been Beethoven and Mozart.He would spend hours and hours listening and studying their brilliance.His most recent love has been his beautiful grandchildren, Grace and Gloria.Tim was preceded in death by his mother, Jeanne Lathrop; father Lt. Colonel George Edward Lathrop, MD; and more recently, his brother, Colonel George Dennis Lathrop, MD.Tim is survived by his amazing wife of 51 years, Judy Lathrop; his sister Stephanie (Ron) Sparling; his daughter Rachel Lathrop; his son Jeffrey Lathrop; as well as his two granddaughters Grace Ellen and Gloria Genevieve Lathrop.Please join Tim’s family in celebrating his life on May 6th at 4:00 pm at The Bakken Museum.

3537 Zenith Ave South

Minneapolis, MN 55416
Recent stories
Shared by Rachel Lathrop on May 17, 2019

 

A Corporate Refugee Bares All

 

Written by Frank Freedman

Illustrated by Robb Miller

www.acorporaterefugeebaresall.com

 

Please Don’t Come Anymore

What Was Happening:I was hired in 1979 to be Medtronic’s Director of Clinical Research and bring much needed change to the department. I implemented project management, standard operating procedures and many other changes. Within a year, the department’s corporate image changed from a “liability” to an asset.

 

What I Learned: Sometimes the job requires a manager to be a coach. If you take the time to do so, it can be a labor of love.

 

The clinical research department’s role was to obtain the clinical experience required to support the needs of many other departments (design, marketing, regulatory affairs, etc.), before a new pacemaker or pacing lead could be sold. It was no secret that this department was in disarray, when I became its director. On my very first day as director, I was greeted with a continuing stream of telephone complaints, some angrily expressed using four-letter expletives.

The professional staff was constantly subjected to criticism from others at Medtronic about what type of clinical experience was needed and how to obtain it. Frankly, they were demoralized when I took over.

Critical changes were necessary. That was why I was hired. I quickly convened a staff meeting to listen to their concerns and begin the process of making substantial changes. But I honestly did not have any specific ideas about what changes were necessary. It was hard to know if I would need a protective suit of amour, a big box of Kleenex or both to get through this meeting.

One by one, the staff told me about problems they faced. To their surprise (and mine), after a moment’s thought I announced that they would now lead their clinical research studies differently. Those in charge of clinical studies would operate as “clinical study managers.” This was a totally foreign concept to them. It was not how the department previously operated. As clinical study managers, their job would be to seek consensus from product development team members about what clinical experience was needed, what physicians to use as investigators and how to conduct the study. But if consensus was not possible, the clinical study manager alone would make the final decisions. It may have been the first use of project management to lead clinical studies in the Twin Cities or the entire medical device industry.

They expressed great reluctance to accept their new role. I was pointedly told that my approach was not how things were done. I countered by reminding them how difficult their jobs currently were … constantly reacting to criticism and unreasonable requests. Managing clinical research studies, rather than reacting to circumstances, would make them far more productive and make their jobs easier.

I decided to use the pending Spectrax® Pacemaker Clinical Study as the vehicle to introduce the corporation to the new way clinical research would be conducted. Spectrax was a revolutionary new type of pacemaker, one that could improve patient outcomes and boost the corporation’s bottom line. Its leader, Tim Lathrop, was now the Spectrax “clinical study manager.” Tim was a smart, popular scientist who had an engaging smile and warm personality. I don’t think he had led any project in his life. Meetings he convened about the Spectrax clinical study were always disasters.

I also told Tim that I expected him to get at least 95 percent of clinical data expected from the Spectrax clinical study. In the past, getting far less clinical data returned sufficed because very little was required to evaluate older pacemaker models. Getting 95 percent of the data returned to us was critical for two compelling reasons: New FDA regulations would require it before approving Spectrax sales in the U.S. Marketing was depending upon it to support a planned, aggressive Spectrax sales campaign.

Tim understood why I picked the Spectrax clinical study to proactively introduce these changes to the corporation. But he was very hesitant to assume his new responsibilities. A colleague and I became his coaching staff. We talked with Tim daily to make him comfortable about assuming them. Each day for about a week, Tim left Medtronic more and more confident that he could assume this new role as “clinical study manager.” Each morning he would return to work with uncertainty about his ability to do so. We stopped coaching him when he started seeing the bigger picture. The corporation could no longer tolerate clinical studies whose outcomes were marginally useful due to confusion about what clinical experience was needed and how to obtain it.

To completely allay his fears, I sent a memo to the Spectrax development team about Tim’s new role as a clinical study manager and his new responsibilities. I informed them that I planned to accompany Tim at the next team meeting in case any questions arose. At the meeting, I started to explain his new role and responsibilities. To his credit, he took over explaining his new responsibilities and how the Spectrax clinical study would be conducted.

After the meeting, Tim’s first words to me were: “Please don’t come to any more of these meetings. If you do, that could detract from my authority.” He might have expected me to be angry. Instead and with a big smile, I shook his hand and exclaimed, “Congratulations … You are where I need you to be.”

All subsequent meetings Tim convened about the Spectrax clinical study were very productive. He became an outstanding clinical study manager.

The Spectrax Clinical Research Study was one of the most successful, effective studies ever performed at Medtronic. It drew praises from all across the company. I was especially pleased that my expectations for data were met; more than 95 percent of expected data was obtained for this study. This study reset the bar for clinical research study excellence, primarily using a project management approach to pursue it. Tim’s success using my new approach for conducting clinical studies was a real “high.”

                                            

But Daddy ...

 

What I Learned: Very little is required to show a big interest in someone.

 

I happened to see Tim Lathrop talking to his young son one day. His son proudly showed him a gold star he earned from his teacher on a picture he drew. Tim congratulated his son, reached into his pocket and gave him a quarter as a reward. It was a special moment between a parent and a child.

I remembered this special moment a few weeks later when I reviewed the first draft of Tim’s Spectrax Clinical Study Report. I made a relatively large number of editorial changes and comments in red ink throughout the report. Since I remembered the special moment when Tim praised his son’s drawing, I printed “Great Job” in big bold letters and pasted a large red star I bought specifically for this occasion on the title page. Would Tim show it to his son? How would his son react?

Tim told me about his son’s response to seeing “Great Job” and the star on the title page. His son gave Tim a nickel from his piggy bank and praised Tim. But he became confused when he looked through Tim’s report. “Daddy,” he asked “how come you got a red star when you made so many mistakes?’

Tim was very pleased that I remembered this touching incident. He took great delight in telling others what happened after his son saw his report

An Exceptional Leader

Shared by Anna Legreid Dopp on May 2, 2019

My thoughts are with Judy and the entire Lathrop family.  I am so sorry for your loss.  Tim has been a major force and presence in the lives of so many. I am grateful that I worked for Tim at Medtronic between 2003 and 2005.  While two years is not a long time, the impact of those two years has carried forward in all the years since.  There are a number of stories that I treasure from my time at Medtronic and getting to work with Tim and the FCEs.  I’ll pick one of the favorites to post here – it is one that I tell almost every student or early career professional when visiting about career goals.  

One of the greatest professional opportunities I’ve ever been given was to be hired to manage the Training and Education Initiative (TEI) that Tim and the FCEs envisioned and created.  The purpose of TEI was to train clinical staff on the technical capabilities of Medtronic devices.  One day, early in the new role, I overheard someone ask Tim why he hired a pharmacist to manage TEI considering how technical the training content was.  I don’t recall that I even knew who asked Tim the question. It wasn’t in a judgmental or condescending tone… just a curious tone.  I too, was just as curious to hear the answer because while it was such an honor to serve in the position, I knew I had a steep learning curve ahead. With my ears perked and trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, I listened (eavesdropped) closely from my cubicle.  Tim’s response has turned out to be the most influential statement of my professional career. Tim replied, “she went to pharmacy school, she finished a professional degree program, she learned how to learn.”  What an incredible gift to give someone so early in her career.  It was so meaningful to overhear that conversation – it has empowered and emboldened me in every role since.  

The other meaningful gift that came from Tim was the opportunity to work with the FCEs and in-house clinical research staff.  It was a collaborative and supportive culture and one that I consider to be the gold standard.  I hold my memories from Medtronic in such high regard because of Tim’s exceptional leadership style and the example he set for all of us who were fortunate to work for him and with him.  We are all better for knowing Tim Lathrop.

Another walking story

Shared by Judy Lathrop on April 21, 2019

Tim has told me about many times walking with Tom Zicardi on the " canyon  walk". I think it is like a 5 to 6 hr hike. It comes out on the  picturesque Hwy 101. This particular walk Tom's wife with 2  little ones 4 and under said she would pick them up at  a predetermined spot. It seems Tim and Tom weren't there. Poor Kelly drove around for 2 hours looking for them. When they got into the car there was an uncomfortable silence. After a few minutes the 4 year old announced quite loudly " THERE WILL BE NO DESSERT FOR YOU TONIGHT  TIM LATHROP !"