Born: Kansas City, Mo.
Education: American University, bachelor of arts degree, political science; minor in urban affairs
What is the greatest challenge you have faced?
Being son of the boss. You’re rightly guilty until you are proven innocent. There is the rightful assumption that you only got where you are because of what your last name is. That’s something I still constantly strive to overcome. I think self-deprecating humor is my greatest strength.
What is the most important business lesson you have learned?
Nothing breeds failure like success. Don’t believe your own PR.
Whom do you admire most in business and why?
Herb Kelleher, Southwest Airlines. He didn’t take himself too seriously, and he has a great sense of humor.
Epsten on the challenges of growth: The challenge of growing a business is a matter of always staying one step ahead worrying about tomorrow’s problems as much as the problems of today. We do it by first making sure that we are successful in the short term, which gives us the luxury of planning for the long term. A lot of times, it involves spotting trends, looking at related industries or businesses that may be further along the curve than we are and also looking at other markets and seeing if there are any issues that might become applicable to our market in the future.
A lot of times, it’s as simple as asking questions of our constituencies, our suppliers and our customers. It also can be as easy as reading, whether it’s industry publications or general business publications to see what’s going on. It’s paying attention to the trees at the same time you are paying attention to the forest.