The Passing of Two of My Childhood Business Heroes
Two of my childhood business heroes, T. Boone Pickens and H. Ross Perot, died this year. Perot passed away this summer at age 89 and Pickens passed away yesterday at age 91.
As I was typing this, I thought maybe I’d call them T and H. But, growing up they were referred to as “T Boone” and “Perot.” I didn’t know either of them personally, but they loomed large over the business community in Dallas where I grew up (from 1969 – 1983.) Over time, I had a number of second-degree connections to each of them, but I never ended up directly in either of their orbits.
I was giving a talk about entrepreneurship recently and alluded to the amount of information there is today about the topic. I riffed off a few current examples of famous entrepreneurs and reflected that when I was a kid, the only books available were biographies about guys with names like Iaccoca and Walton.
All of the rest of my childhood (and early college) business education came from three places: (1) word of mouth from my dad, my uncle Charlie, and a few of their friends, (2) magazines – specifically Business Week, Forbes, and Fortune, and (3) newspapers – specifically the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the business section of the Dallas Morning News (and eventually the business section of the Boston Globe.)
Occasionally, a book like On Wings of Eagles by Ken Follett would come out and would captivate me, but that was atypical. More often, I was just gobbling down books on T Boone, Perot, and others when someone got around to writing a biography.
While the information available today is much more diverse and accessible, I fondly remember being curled up on a couch learning more about the day by day (and month by month) actions of some of my early business heroes.
With their passing, I’m reminded that in the end, we all die. It’s a good reminder to spend one’s time today on what you want since it’s all finite.