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1,000 Dollars and an Idea: Entrepreneur to Billionaireby Sam Wyly
Synopses & Reviews
The rags-to-riches story of an amazing business wizard—from the Louisiana cotton fields to the worlds of computers, retailing, fast food, high finance, and green energy—life lessons from a man ahead of the pack and ahead of his time.
"My work is to create companies and build them," says the billionaire whom Fortune magazine, over thirty years ago, characterized_as "one of the most, if not the most, important entrepreneurs" of the century. This was even before Wyly contributed to nearly every great technological, service industry, and investment business breakthrough in the second half of the twentieth century.
Now, in his fast-paced, fascinating, and candid memoir, Wyly reveals the thought processes, relationships, and financial machinations behind the building of his diverse businesses over the last four decades.
Here's the story of how he worked his way through Louisiana Tech selling class rings and why, after his first job in which he broke sales records for IBM (along with Ross Perot, a fellow IBM salesman) and a brief stint at Honeywell, he decided to risk $1,000 of his savings to found the first "computer utility" company in the business world. This was in 1963. Two years later, he took his University Computing Company public and became an instant millionaire.
Never losing his entrepreneurial spirit, Wyly undertook one challenge after another, such as:
Waging a successful anti-monopoly battle against AT&T, enabling him to build a "telephone highway" for computers
Growing the modest Bonanza Steak House chain, which he "inherited" as the result of a bad debt, to a total of 600 outlets before selling it for a huge profit
Creating a new systems software company, Sterling Software, which he eventually sold for $4 billion
Dividending Sterling Commerce to public shareholders and selling to AT&T_for $4 billion in 2000
Expanding the small arts-and-crafts chain Michaels Stores from 10 to 1,000 stores before selling it for $6 billion in 2006
Founding Green Mountain Energy, which has become the largest and most profitable green business in the country.
Part autobiography and part inspirational self-help business guide, Wyly not only provides his homespun life lessons in the practice of starting and building businesses, but he also delivers refreshing new insights into how many American businesses operated from the 1950s to the present.
"Country boy makes good in this down-home tale of self-made multimillionaire Wyly. In his humble post-Depression Louisiana roots, Wyly learned his first business lessons from football strategy, his father's tiny newspaper business and his mother's bargaining skills. A lucky meeting propelled him to the University of Michigan's Business School and his first corporate job at IBM, where he had to work fast to keep from succumbing to culture shock as he discovered 'there ain't no Bubbas in Michigan.' Energetic and restless, he soon left IBM for Honeywell and then created his own technology companies, rescuing failing businesses, founding Green Mountain Energy and devoting himself to environmentalism. Citing Sam Walton as a hero and Ross Perot as a personal friend, Wyly stresses the power and privilege of self-creation and speaks honestly about what he's learned: that failure is crucial to achieving success, independent thought is imperative, luck serendipitous and power useless unless it is wielded for good. Though the message is a good one, the meandering storytelling and not well-known author might make this book a hard sell to a trade audience. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Entrepreneur Wyly presents the story of his success in this memoir, showing how he co-founded Earth Resources Co., purchased and expand the Bonanza Steakhouse chain and the Michaels craft store chain, and founded Green Mountain Energy. This title is intended for the general public and suitable for readers with an interest in entrepreneurship or business. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In his fast-paced, fascinating, and candid memoir, Wyly reveals the thought processes, relationships, and financial machinations behind the building of his diverse businesses over the last four decades.
About the Author
Sam Wyly, a self-made billionaire of Scottish-Irish descent, grew up in Louisiana, attending local schools before eventually going to Louisiana Tech to study journalism and accounting. He was awarded a scholarship to the University of Michigan Business School, where he earned his MBA. Always an avid reader, student of history, and environmentalist, Sam and his brother, Charles, his partner in many of his businesses, together funded The Charles Wyly Sr. Tower of Learning at Louisiana Tech, built in memory of their father. Sam is an active proponent of clean air through clean energy. Recently, he and his wife, Cheryl, purchased the independent Explore Booksellers and Bistro in Aspen, where he maintains a home, as well as in Dallas and New York City.
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