The Edmunds File Featured

8:00pm EDT July 26, 2009

Born: Kenbridge, Va.

Education: Bachelor’s degree, accounting, University of Texas at Austin

What was your first job ever?

I cut lawns in my hometown, and I remember, for an acre, it was about $3.50. I’ll never forget, my mom made us business cards that we handed around to the older ladies in town, and our motto was, ‘You grow it; we mow it,’ — $3.50 per acre — I mean it was awful. They were enormous yards, and we’re not talking riding mowers. We’re talking push the mower, you know, forever. I was in good shape. I did it with my brother. I think I was probably 12 or 13.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a lawyer. My dad was a lawyer, so I thought about that early on but too much school was involved. To think about it, I actually wanted to be a professional golfer. When I was 11, 12, 13, 14, I played golf every day in addition to mowing yards. I actually wanted to be a professional golfer, but when I got to college, I realized I wasn’t that good. I couldn’t compete with the big guys. I was a big shot in southern Virginia and became a little shot when I went to UT, and I realized I should be an accountant versus a golfer, and that worked out fine.

What’s your favorite board game?

I like to actually do puzzles with the family. We’ll go skiing in the winter and ski for three or four days and lay out a huge 2,000-piece puzzle and do that over three or four days, and it’s pretty relaxing.

What’s the best business lesson you’ve learned?

Don’t defer the tough decisions. Don’t wait until they get worse and worse, but address the tough issues now. Don’t defer tough decisions.

Whom do you admire most and why?

Martin Luther King Jr. He’s not here anymore, but I think he was the greatest leader of the 20th century. I’m pretty famous here for the voice mails I send out on Martin Luther King’s birthday. I think he was an astonishing human being who did more for the U.S. than any other leader in that century, and I just admire him a whole lot.