Jack Baum On Success – Three Legged Stool
Apr 28 2009

Jack Baum was one of my favorite investors and board members at the first company I founded.  He was outspoken, introduced us to key customers and other key investors, and was a real supporter of us founders.  He isn’t afraid to say what was on his mind even if it was not politically correct.   He also took time to listen to our perspectives and since he is an entrepreneur himself, he could relate to us.

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I interviewed Jack (pdf) for The University of Texas at Austin’s alumni magazine, The Alcalde, for an article that was published in the November/December 2005 issue.  My writing partner, Pam Losefksy, and I pulled these articles together a while back and you can see them on the Success Profiles page of this blog.  You can see the full article on Jack by clicking HERE (pdf).

Jack is the President/CEO of Food, Friends & Company, which owns Cozymel’s Mexican Grill and is now creating an upscale seafood restaurant called Red Sails, as well as a Pan-Latin concept called Tango. He founded Canyon Café, Sam’s Café, and Newport’s in Texas as well as Sagebrook Technology Partners, an investment firm that provides capital to early-stage technology companies. (Sagebrook subsequently merged with 2M Capital.)  Has competed in five Ironman triathlons and finished in the top tier in the amateur division.

The main point he wanted to share was:

When I look at the traits of successful people, I think of a triangle or a stool with three legs. First, successful people have meaningful relationships with their family and friends.  Second, they take the selfishness and the ego out of making money and elevate
what they do to make money to a point where it’s good for society.  And third, successful people know how to recharge their batteries.

He also shared the following advice:

When I talk to young people, I often use the metaphor of training for a marathon, which is something I know a lot about, to illustrate how to be successful. I know I can increase my training by 5 percent a week without injuring myself. If my goal is to run a marathon, and the longest run I’m capable of today is three miles, I then calculate how long it’s going to take me to be ready and I can enter a marathon after that date.

I think the same thing happens in life. A lot of young people coming out of college are rushing to get their careers started, but I think they need to look at it more as a marathon than as a sprint. I believe they need to say to themselves, “Here are the tools that I need to put in my toolbox to be successful. I’ve got plenty of time to do it. I don’t have to do everything today.” If they can have that perspective, they are more likely to stay balanced and to keep each leg of the stool on the ground.

I have a lot of respect for Jack.  He seems to have found ways to keep his three legged stool balanced for the most part from what I’ve seen.   He flew in to speak to my entrepreneurship class a couple of times and was always a great hit with the students.

The marathon analogy works well for start-ups and life.  There are many times in an entrepreneurial endeavor you feel like just giving up because it’s just too hard and all your muscles ache and your brain is fried.  But you get up and keep going until you make it over the hump or you hit the wall.  Some companies make it across the finish line, some make it but fall apart afterwards, some make it in record time and are the darlings of the race, and some people’s mind/body just have to call it quits because that’s just how it has to be at that point.  They pick themselves up and try again later with another company.  And such is life.

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Liz Carpenter on Success
Feb 18 2009

Now for the next highlight of one of the people I interviewed for The University of Texas at Austin’s alumni magazine, The Alcalde, on Liz Carpenter that was published in the March/April 2005 issue.  You can check out the post I did on Mort Meyerson, former CEO of both EDS and Perot Systems, for some background information.

My writing partner, Pam Losefksy, and I pulled these articles together.  You can see them on the Success Profiles page of this blog. The series started as Success To Me and during the middle of last year we changed it to Self Starter to focus more on entrepreneurs.  When we told them we weren’t able to continue due to our other commitments, they brought the series in house.  You can see the full article on Liz Carpenter by clicking HERE (pdf).

Liz received her BA from UT in 1942.  She was the White House press secretary to Ladybird Johnson.  She is the author of several books and uses humor extensively not only in her writing but also in her speeches and day to day conversations.  One of her first books was called “Start with a Laugh,” which was a first hand account of writing speeches during her white house years.   She would be about 88 years old right now and was an active supporter of the women’s movement.

We started the article with this quote by Liz:

To me, being able to use your time, hopefully profitably, doing what you want to do, and finding happiness in it, is success. I think the keys to success are sharing and having a generous heart and a sense of humor. Another trait of successful people is that they are aware — they have inquiring minds.  And finally, people who are successful are committed to taking risks and to walking through open doors. If you don’t trust yourself to take a risk, you’re likely to be left out of greater success.

She then went on to say.

There’s an old quote from the women’s movement: “Men are made anxious by failure. Women are made anxious by success.” I think women have gotten much braver since the start of the women’s movement in this country, and it thrills me that now we are not so anxious with success. We now help each other achieve it.

I agree that many women (myself included) don’t really feel comfortable with success outside the home environment.  I know that sounds strange, but I’m still on the cusp of the generation of women who grew up with mothers (who may or may not have worked outside of the home) who were still ‘programmed’ to think about life, womanhood, wife hood, and motherhood in a certain way.

There have been many changes in society since we were children and as women we have many more opportunities than our mothers had (without having to worry as much about the glass ceiling and with having no help from our spouses), but many of us still struggle with defining our roles.  I imagine the same is true for men who now find themselves much more involved in child care than our fathers were.  With many more women working (by choice sometime during their children’s lives) than ever before, men have to be more involved in the day to day business of house management and child care because we often don’t have the nearby family support system that used to exist.  Our mother’s who had to work or chose to work in many cases had to do everything without much support from their spouse.

So it’s no wonder we sometimes still feel residual anxiety about success because with success comes worry about how we will manage the rest of our lives with kids…because I think it’s already been proven that although we can have it all, we can’t have it all at the same time!

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Success To Me – Clay Nichols
Mar 6 2008

I co-write articles on the topic of success for university alumni magazines with my fabulous writing partner Pam Losefsky. Our latest article for The University of Texas at Austin’s alumni magazine, The Alcalde, is on Clay Nichols.  Clay is a Michener Fellow at the Texas Center for Writers and Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer at DadLabs, an Internet TV show featuring humor and advice on fatherhood.

Our goal with this endeavor was to get people thinking about what success means to them by reading stories on how others define success.  Please click here to see more success profiles.  Here is a thought provoking quote from the article:

Leadership in a corporate context is very different from that in a family context.  To me that’s painfully and brutally obvious, but I’ve run across many who don’t seem to recognize that distinction and the relationship with their families suffers irreparably.”  He goes on to say “The time you spend with your kids is going to be as valuable to your ultimate success as the time you spend with your colleagues.”

You can’t manage relationships with friends and family the same way you manage relationships at work or manage your career.  I fall victim to thinking it can be managed the same myself from time to time.  They are two different things and as we’ve seen from observing people around us trying to fit a square peg in a round hole doesn’t usually turn out that well.

Stay tuned for a whole new series with the next edition of The Alcalde that will be called Self Starter. We will be interviewing exclusively entrepreneurs from The University of Texas at Austin.  Hook ‘em Horns!

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Success To Me – Jim Nolen
Feb 13 2008

As some of you know, I co-write articles on the topic of success for university alumni magazines with my fabulous writing partner Pam Losefsky. Our latest article for The University of Texas at Austin’s alumni magazine, The Alcalde, is on Jim Nolen.  Jim  is a UT Distinguised Senior Lecturer of Finance and President of CFO Services.  He is the recipient of numerous teaching awards.

Our goal with this endeavor was to get people thinking about what success means to them by reading stories on how others define success.  Please click here to see more success profiles.  One of the key things he said that resonated with me was:

“Thomas Edison said ‘I’ve never had a failure — I’ve found 10,000 things that didn’t work.’  It’s that mental attitude that really translates into success in the end — never thinking about failure, but saying instead, ‘I’m going to be successful.  I may take a lot of detours, but I don’t have a problem with that.’” 

It’s all in how we frame it, isn’t it?  Life is one big university where we continue to learn and grow!

The editor has since asked us to focus on entrepreneurs for future articles and of course I am thrilled since I love meeting and talking with entrepreneurs!  So after the next one, the series will be called Self Starter and we will be interviewing exclusively entrepreneurs from The University of Texas at Austin.  Hook ‘em Horns!

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