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.
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