Students who attended the last three Dean's Convocations in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business got some very direct advice from entrepreneurs who have seen firsthand what it takes to make a business successful.
They heard from H.E. "Bud" Scruggs, who was, at the time, president of the Leucadia Asset Management Group, where his job included the purchasing of distressed companies and getting them stabilized and healthy. In his position he had multiple CEOs reporting to him.
Tom Stockham, a former president of Ticketmaster.com and MyFamily.com., also spoke with students. He is now on the board of several online services companies and was acting CEO of the online sales training company, 3point5, when he visited campus.
Curt Howes, the founder and president of Organization Performance Strategies, spoke on leadership and how to deliver "high performance and tangible results." He was a former associate partner at Accenture, one of the world's largest management consulting firms.
Scruggs, who was also once the chief of staff for Gov. Norman Bangerter, reviewed a list of common mistakes made by even the best new MBAs.
He said new employees who graduated with top grades face many challenges in the business world because it is not as structured as college.
"One of the things that we find with these folks who have never gotten anything but "As" is that they are scared to death of failure," he said.
He advised such students to create their own structure.
"School is so nicely structured," Scruggs said. "Corporations like GE are wonderfully structured but most companies aren't. What you need to learn is how to supply structure from below. When you get an assignment, add some structure. Set your own milestones. Share those with your manager and help him manage you. Ambiguity in some optimal organizations is a fact of life and top-performing professionals find great opportunity in this environment."
Scruggs said that when he would go into a company he would ask management to identify all its indispensible people. He said they were usually quite proud to identify such employees. Scruggs said he would then tell them, "If they are still here and they are still indispensible six months from now, I will personally fire them. Indispensible people are almost without exception, bad citizens. They hog information. They don't document what they do. They develop a strategy where if they are gone, everything has to come to a halt and they are lousy people to have in organizations."
Scruggs recently left to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Stockham gave the students some practical advice about being entrepreneurs and said that if students want to do something extraordinary it means they will be trying to do something most people don't think is possible.
"If you are going to do it, you are going to face mostly people who don't get it, don't see how it could be done and, in fact, will tell you it can't be done," he said. "So, if it is really true that you aspire to do something extraordinary you need to adjust your mindset, you need to get your head around the fact that you are going to spend much of the rest of your life dealing with folks who say you can't do that or you shouldn't do that."
He said many people have good ideas but don't act on them.
"If you are going to go do something extraordinary, guess what? You have to get up and go do it," Stockham said. "It's not going to happen magically. You can't talk about the idea of it forever . . ."
Howes said that when he worked for Accenture they would study some of the more successful independent oil companies to see what they had in common.
"They were very clear on what their strategy was," Howes said. "They knew exactly where they were going to place their bets and what they were going to be really good at."
He said they had a "bias toward being entrepreneurial."
"There was a very strong drive from the leader at the top, and he wasn't a sit back leader," Howes said. "He was deeply involved in hands-on management in terms of guiding the strategy on a day-today basis."
As a consultant, Howes has worked with a variety of companies located in Europe, Russia, Asia, South America, Middle East and the United States.