The Two Most Influential People in My Business Life

When I graduated from UC Davis in 1981, my girlfriend and future ex-wife, had a job in LA at Oscar Meyer so we moved to Westminster.  My father at the time was semi-retired and purchasing a small company in Orange County.  I had worked warehouse and trucking jobs over the past few years, so he asked me to help out and verify the inventory, meet with the vendors and manufacturers of the product, among other tasks.  Five years later, we were bankrupt, but it was a great run.

My father, after the Navy and WWII, attended Harvard Business School, where he graduated as a Baker Scholar.  He remained and taught at Harvard for several years before returning to Southern California.  He was a pretty smart guy, with a great work ethic.  He taught me how to be a productive worker, chiefly through little axioms, such as: “There is one sure way to make sure that is doesn’t happen”; to not “try”; “there is no accounting for how much you can accomplish, provided you don’t care who gets the credit”; “I would rather trust and be occasionally disappointed rather than distrust and be miserable all the time”

After completing graduate school and finding my first post grad job, I needed to find a management persona.  The only criticism of my father through his years as an executive was that he was too nice. There were stories of people coming to his office to be fired and leaving with a promotion. I liked that part of him, but knew it wouldn’t work in 80’s.

I had been a huge Raider fan since the Blanda days, but, interestingly, was a little suspect of Al Davis.  So I asked around, looked up microfiche articles at the UCI library, garnered what I could.  I liked the fact, that like my dad, he lived by little axioms and mottos, I liked that he gave people chances, second chances, that he was fiercely loyal to those loyal to him, and most importantly was quick to act if crossed.

Over the years I patterned my management persona after two great men, I hired women in traditionally male positions, I hired gays and lesbians under a Mormon boss, I hired minorities that may not have an Ivy League education or top tier experience, but had a drive that other more privileged did not possess.  I also summarily fired people who crossed me, whom took actions against the company’s best interests and who exhibited intolerant behavior towards their fellow workers.

I learned from two fine individuals, different, but the same, I am blessed to have known one and of one.


Written by: Friskies