Born: Texarkana, Ark.
Education: B.S. in business administration from the University of Arkansas
What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?
My dad was an entrepreneur. He had a general store and farming operation, and we lived across the highway from the store. So I don’t remember at what age I wasn’t working. I was working at age 6, 7, 8, doing some light-duty something. We lived in a small town and every person in that little town was a customer. I learned to be nice to everybody because they were all customers. I think that served me pretty well.
Whom do you admire most and why?
From a business standpoint, I would say, here in Houston, I admire two very successful entrepreneurs: Dan Duncan and Joe Foster. Both came from very humble backgrounds and both have been enormously successful. But both of whom have always been available to assist me in anything, to give advice and have been great contributors to the communities and haven’t forgotten their humble beginnings.
What’s your definition of success?
My definition of success is doing something that you enjoy doing and doing it very well.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
When I was forming Consolidated Graphics in 1985, I had some ideas to make this company a little complicated. A gentleman named W.D. Hawkins, one of my initial investors and board members, said, ‘Joe, this is not a big enough business enterprise to make it this complicated, so keep it simple.’ [Through] a lot of business deals I’ve done since then, I’ve relied upon that advice and tried to keep things fairly simple.
Your workday is off to a bad start. How do you turn it around?
One of the things I do is I talk to some of my most successful presidents. If things aren’t going very well here, I want to know how they’re going in their operations and oftentimes, they’re going very well. That tends to get me headed in the right direction.
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