Huntsman Alumni Magazine

Spring 2013

Vision - Duane Shaw

Fundamentals of Success in Business and in Life

I grew up in the shadows of Old Main in Logan and was an Aggie by the time I was four or five. I attended public schools in Logan and without a second thought enrolled at USU.

I began working at the age of nine mowing five neighbors’ lawns. I moved up to working at a grocery store at the age of fourteen, and from the age of sixteen until graduating from USU I worked at Smith’s Food King in Logan. I am not certain why I began working so young, but it just seemed to be the right thing to do. The work ethic instilled in me by my parents has carried on throughout my life. As an adult I have often worked multiple jobs developing my career and expanding my knowledge. And I suspect I will end up dying with my work boots on.

I grew up in a home where fundamental principles of success were taught, and those principles helped me develop a skill set and an attitude that started me on the right path in life. It was common to hear my father make some of the following statements:

  • If anything in life is worth doing, it is worth doing well.
  • If you can’t think of anything nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all.
  • Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
  • You can do and be whatever you want to be.
  • Only you can limit your destiny.
  • Always treat others the way you would want them to treat you.
  • Stand for something.
  • Establish short, medium, and long-term goals in your life.
  • Without a clear destination in life it won’t matter which way you go.

Upon graduating from USU, I began my career in mortgage banking with the largest bank in Utah at the time. In July of 1988 I opened the doors of Academy Mortgage and began the journey of building my own company. Owning one’s own business brings a whole new perspective to a person’s life. One must control, balance, and develop an infrastructure to deal with risk, vision, business model, accounting, sales production, technology, workforce, expenses, controllable growth, etc. etc. etc. It is a never ending balancing act as a company grows and is generally a result of taking “baby steps.”

There are a number of fundamental business principles that I have learned along life’s journey:

  1. Everyone in the world is a salesman. Always be aware of who your customers are. It may surprise you.
  2. Choose to do something that you truly enjoy and are passionate about or success will be much harder to come by.
  3. Always give more than you receive.
  4. Always be worth more than you are paid.
  5. No matter what you are doing, see it as a career and not a job.
  6. Always be available and ready to help others in need.

Academy Mortgage has grown steadily and weathered the 2008 financial crisis, because from the start, we had focused on quality and integrity. The last five years have brought unexpected opportunities to Academy Mortgage. We have been given the opportunity to employ and integrate into our corporate family incredibly talented people from all across the country.

Vision? Yes. But vision can really be broken down into a group of smaller pieces.

  1. Maintaining a proper balance as a company
  2. Refining a business model continually for peak performance
  3. Being prepared to weather the storms
  4. Anticipating and embracing opportunities
  5. Employing the right people in the right positions

Luck? Yes. I was lucky enough to grow up in Logan, Utah, in a wonderful home and family. I was lucky enough to attend USU. I was lucky to have chosen a career that I loved. I have been fortunate to have surrounded myself with very talented employees. And I have been lucky enough to have the skills and vision to build such a business.