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 systemssoftware 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.
"1,000 Dollars and an Idea is more than mere memoirs. Each personal tale, written with humor, candor, and spirituality, has an underlying business or life lesson." —Dallas Morning News
"Wyly clearly loves beating the competition and pursuing goals…[he] keeps looking for new forms of success." —Wall Street Journal
"A joy to read…Sam Wyly is a wonderful American character: a natural entrepreneur and builder with an outsized personality and humor to match his success. This book captures the magic of the American dream." —Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute and author of Einstein: His Life and Universe
"Sam Wyly has been an extraordinary visionary for the long term…I highly recommend this exceptionally entertaining and inspiring book." —John Mackey, Founder, Whole Foods
"Sam Wyly is an entrepreneurial genius who inspires both new business ideas and spiritual renewal. 1,000 Dollars and an Idea is a courageous tale of a creative and generous life." —The Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham, President and Founder, The Regeneration Project
"Sam's book is an inspirational journey through the early years of online computing, the creation and growth of the software products industry, and the many and diverse achievements of one of the most important entrepreneurs of the 20th century." —Ross Perot
"Spanning four decades and remarkably diverse industries, the career of Sam Wyly—a true original—shows what good ideas, strong will, and access to capital can accomplish. —Michael Milken, Chairman, The Milken Institute
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.
Expanded edition with new chapters on the Great Crash of 2008 and looking ahead.
Self-made billionaire Sam Wyly is a natural storyteller. In this expanded edition of his memoir, he recounts his experiences establishing and expanding companies on the leading edge of advancements in technology, energy, retail, and investments over the last five decades. From the hardships his family faced trying to hold on to their cotton farm during the Depression to the coaching he received on the high school football field, Wyly describes how his early years in Louisiana prepared him for what lay ahead.
Risking $1,000 of his savings, Wyly founded University Computing in 1963 and took it public two years later, becoming a millionaire at the age of thirty. Throughout this book, he reveals the decisions and strategies behind his many business successes, including founding Sterling Software, growing the small chains of Michaels Stores and Bonanza Steakhouses into nationwide brands, and founding Green Mountain Energy, the largest provider of cleaner energy in America today.
Wyly also discusses the "Great Crash of 2008" in historical perspective, offering insights on our current financial crisis and the path to recovery—including the importance of green energy for the future.
About the Author
, a self-made billionaire of Scottish and Irish descent, grew up in Louisiana and attended local schools before going to Louisiana Tech University to study journalism and accounting. He won a scholarship to the University of Michigan Business School, where he earned his MBA. With his brother, Charles, his partner in many of his businesses, Sam funded the Charles Wyly Sr. Tower of Learning at Louisana Tech, in memory of their father.
Sam, an avid reader and student of history, and his wife Cheryl own Explore Booksellers in Aspen, Colorado. Sam is also an active proponent of clean air through clean energy.
He has lived most of his adult life in Dallas, and also spends time in Aspen and in New York's Greenwich Village.