Theo Epstein: Speaker Spotlight
Dubbed one of “Baseball’s Last Rock Stars” by Forbes, THEO EPSTEIN’s success story serves as a blueprint of transformational leadership. At 28 years old, he became the youngest General Manager in baseball history, and is credited for crafting and executing the turnaround strategy of two legendary teams with transformational leadership. He led both the Boston Red Sox to their first championship in 86 years and the Chicago Cubs to three historic World Series Championships after a 108 year drought. His talks demonstrate why Fortune Magazine named Theo number one on its list of the World’s Greatest Leaders and TIME Magazine named him to their list of 100 Most Influential People. His lessons on purpose-driven leadership, teamwork, and transformation help managers and leaders catapult their own teams to success. Plus, he always provides insider’s knowledge about some of the greatest moments in modern baseball, including breaking the legendary Curse of the Bambino and the Curse of the Billy Goat.
Theo Epstein is a veteran of Major League Baseball, including almost 20 years running organizations, and has presided over three World Series winners: 2004 and 2007 with the Boston Red Sox, and 2016 with the Chicago Cubs. He continues to influence Major League Baseball as an Advisor focusing on rule changes and future-of-the-game issues. He is also an Executive-in-Residence with Arctos Sports Partners, and the CEO of Arctos NorthStar Acquisition Corporation.
Theo is the architect of two of the most historic and memorable championship teams in baseball history: the 2004 Boston Red Sox who broke the Curse of the Bambino and ended an 86-year championship drought, and the 2016 Chicago Cubs who broke the Curse of the Billy Goat and ended a 108-year championship drought.
In 2002, Epstein became the youngest General Manager in baseball history at the age of 28 years, 11 months. Two years later, at age 30, he became (and remains) the youngest General Manager to win a World Series.
Epstein is one of only four baseball executives in history to build World Series winners for more than one organization. Fortune Magazine named Theo number one on its list of the World’s Greatest Leaders in 2017 and TIME Magazine named him to their list of 100 Most Influential People in the same year.
Epstein was named Executive of the Decade (2000-09) for baseball by The Sporting News and was third on Sports Illustrated’s list of Top-10 GMs/ Executives of the Decade in all sports. Additionally, he won Executive of the Year awards in 2016 (Sporting News, Boston Baseball Writers Association of America, MLB Esurance, Negro Leagues Museum), in 2008 (Baseball America), in 2004 (Boston BBWAA) and in 2003 (Boston BBWAA).
Theo spent nine seasons (2012-2020) as President of Baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs. After overhauling the organization during three rebuilding seasons (2012-14), Epstein led the Cubs to a .580 winning percentage and five postseason appearances in six seasons (2015-20), including three consecutive National League Championship Series (2015-17) and a Word Series title (2016). Epstein’s Cubs won six post-season series in 2015-2017 after winning just one in 105 years from 1909-2014. From 2015-20, the Cubs were one of just four teams (Dodgers, Yankees, Astros) to make the playoffs five times in that span and their 505 victories rank third in baseball.
The 2016 World Series title was the culmination of a five-year rebuild of the Cubs’ baseball operation in which Epstein and his staff restructured the scouting and player development operation and front office and acquired a young core of talent through trades, drafts, and free agency. All but two of the 25 players on the 2016 World Series-winning roster were acquired under Epstein’s watch, including 13 via trade. The Cubs had the consensus top farm system in baseball in 2015 before winning the World Series in 2016.
In nine seasons as general manager of his hometown Boston Red Sox GM (2003-11), Epstein’s clubs won two World Championships, made six postseason appearances, went to four American League Championship Series, won 95 or more games six times, won 90 or more seven times, had 89 or more wins eight times, and played to a .575 winning percentage.
Epstein’s 2004 Red Sox team is the only team in baseball history to come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series, defeating the New York Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series. Epstein acquired 15 of the 25 players on the 2004 Red Sox World Series roster.
The 2004 Red Sox featured only one product of the farm system during the World Series (Trot Nixon), while the 2007 Red Sox were bolstered by Epstein’s rebuilt scouting and player development department operation and featured eight homegrown players during the Fall Classic.
Epstein’s Red Sox were named the best drafting team of the decade by Baseball America.
Prior to his time as General Manager with the Red Sox, Epstein was the organization’s Assistant General Manager beginning in March of 2002. Prior to that, Theo spent five seasons with the San Diego Padres baseball operations department beginning in 1997, including a stint as Director of Baseball Operations. The was as a member of the Padres Communications department in 1995-96 and began his baseball career as a summer intern for the Baltimore Orioles in 1992-94.
Graduated from Yale University (1995) and the University of San Diego Law School (2000).
In the spring of 2005, Theo and his twin brother, Paul, launched The Foundation To Be Named Later (FTBNL). The non-profit foundation has raised $13.0 million and granted 150 scholarships for disadvantaged youth in the Boston and Chicago areas.
Epstein is also the founder of the non-profit CASE (Careers As Sports Executives) Study Program for high school students interested in sports careers, and serves on the Executive Advisory Committee of The Players Alliance, a non-profit dedicated to the mission of improving Black American representation at all levels of baseball, on and off the field.
Theo’s paternal grandfather Philip and great-uncle Julius, identical twins and a longtime screenwriting tandem, won the 1942 Academy Award for their screenplay of the film Casablanca.