Born: New Orleans
Education: B.S. in economics and B.B.A. from Southern Methodist University
What was your first job, and what did you learn from it that still applies today?
Mowing lawns for a local swimming club. I was a yard boy, and in Louisiana, that’s a tough job. I was 12, believe it or not.
[I learned that] you have to figure out what makes your customer happy not do what you think is happy. You have to understand what they want to be happy. I was the yard boy the lowest paid guy and I was the highest-rated employee at the entire country club. I didn’t even know it until they told me that and they posted the results. They said I always understood what they wanted and I always had it done before they asked.
What’s your favorite board game and why?
I have a lot of kids, so we play Stratego. It’s an old game. You have all these little players, and you move them. It takes a lot of ways to win. You have to have your own strategy, and you have to figure out, eventually, if you’re going to win, what strategy your opponent took in order to win. You can have a great strategy, but you may still lose if you can’t figure out what strategy they took. You can have a great defense, but if you don’t have offense, it takes both offense and defense to win.
What’s your favorite movie and why?
I probably like ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ I think that’s my favorite. I think it’s about a guy who took the long-term approach and eventually understood life isn’t all about money or fame or success. There are other intrinsic values that are worth seeking.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an engineer. I like math and science and I wanted to be a problem-solver. I didn’t know what kind of engineer I wanted to be, but I wanted to be working on solving problems, and I thought that’s what engineers do most of the time.