Education: Bachelor of science in technology, Purdue University; MBA from California State University in Long Beach, Calif.; honorary doctorate from Purdue University
What was your very first job?
I was a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force during Vietnam assigned to the headquarters space systems division in Los Angeles. We were responsible for weapons systems testing in outer space. I worked with the smartest and the brightest of all, starting the day after I got out of college.
I learned the value of an absolute organization structure where authority is absolutely clear, top to bottom, and the objectives that need to be accomplished are clear. We were spending a lot of money on each of the products we were involved in.
In those days, one out of three launches blew up on the pad. So we had a failure cost that was pretty high. But that was 45 years ago. It was just the most dynamic and smartest group of people that you could ever work with.
Whom do you admire most in business and why?
My second job after four years in the Air Force was with IBM. One of the fellas that I reported to was a guy named C. Michael Armstrong. Michael ended up being one of the three guys considered to be chairman and CEO of IBM.
He wasn’t selected, but he then became chairman and CEO of Hughes Aircraft and, later, chairman and CEO of AT&T. Michael is a smart guy and his people-oriented style has always been one I admired.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t kid yourself. Don’t believe you are more than you are.
If you could have dinner with any three people in history, who would they be?
Jesus Christ, President Ronald Reagan and Thomas J. Watson Jr., former president at IBM.