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It’s never too late to top your personal best.
Now eighty years old, T. Boone Pickens is a legendary figure in the business world. Known as the “Oracle of Oil” because of his uncanny ability to predict the direction of fuel prices, he built Mesa Petroleum, one of the largest independent oil companies in the United States, from a $2,500 investment. In the 1980s, Pickens became a household name when he...
It’s never too late to top your personal best.
Now eighty years old, T. Boone Pickens is a legendary figure in the business world. Known as the “Oracle of Oil” because of his uncanny ability to predict the direction of fuel prices, he built Mesa Petroleum, one of the largest independent oil companies in the United States, from a $2,500 investment. In the 1980s, Pickens became a household name when he executed a series of unsolicited buyout bids for undervalued oil companies, in the process reinventing the notion of shareholders’ rights. Even his failures were successful in that they forced risk-averse managers to reconsider the way they did business.
When Pickens left Mesa at age sixty-eight after a spectacular downward spiral in the company’s profits, many counted him out. Indeed, what followed for him was a painful divorce, clinical depression, a temporary inability to predict the movement of energy prices, and the loss of 90 percent of his investing capital. But Pickens was far from out.
From that personal and professional nadir, Pickens staged one of the most impressive comebacks in the industry, turning his investment fund’s remaining $3 million into $8 billion in profit in just a few years. That made him, at age seventy-seven, the world’s second-highest-paid hedge fund manager. But he wasn’t done yet. Today, Pickens is making some of the world’s most colossal energy bets. If he has his way, most of America’s cars will eventually run on natural gas, and vast swaths of the nation’s prairie land will become places where wind can be harnessed for power generation. Currently no less bold than he was decades ago when he single-handedly transformed America’s oil industry, Pickens is staking billions on the conviction that he knows what’s coming. In this book, he spells out that future in detail, not only presenting a comprehensive plan for American energy independence but also providing a fascinating glimpse into key resources such as water—yet another area where he is putting billions on the line.
From a businessman who is extraordinarily humble yet is considered one of the world’s most visionary, The First Billion Is the Hardest is both a riveting account of a life spent pulling off improbable triumphs and a report back from the front of the global energy and natural-resource wars—of vital interest to anyone who has a stake in America’s future.
From the Hardcover edition.
“The latest memoir from the Texas oilman…Pickens’ sauciness does entertain.”
“Sassy…breezes along…salted with earthy aphorisms.”
“Self-deprecating and audacious…overall, it’s decidedly informative about the machinations of business.”
—Dallas Morning News
“A fascinating, eye-opening book by one of America's greatest iconoclasts and entrepreneurs. Boone Pickens’ sense of daring and innovation has never been sharper. Readers will quickly realize that this billionaire's extraordinary achievements are but a warm-up for what he is about to do now.”
—Steve Forbes, President and CEO, Forbes Inc., and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes magazine
“Boone’s analysis of America’s energy situation is 100% on the money. In easy and colorful language he tells us where we are going wrong and what we must do about it. The country should listen to him — now!”
—Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway
“It is inspiring to see Boone Pickens tackling the big issues, daring himself to think bigger, putting forward wind, water and energy ideas that are nothing less than paradigm busters. This absorbing and illuminating book shows why Boone has been more successful than just about all his competitors, and, more crucially, why the problem of resource scarcity may not be as insoluble as some think.”
—Jeffrey Immelt, CEO, General Electric
“Boone Pickens was among the first to grasp that corporations can be marvelous catalysts for progress if individual investors are given a say in what their priorities should be. Today, as humanity faces resource scarcity and dwindling supplies of cheap energy, the responsibility that has devolved to entrepreneurs, and the investors who back them, has never been more immense. Yet, in recounting his own story of comeback after comeback and tackling some of history's biggest oil, wind and water projects, Boone shows that sometimes all it takes is rejecting the ‘usual’ and striking out across virgin territory. In that sense, Boone is a pioneer, and this is a pioneer’s story. Even now, the man they call the Oracle of Oil is blazing new paths that may, indeed, lead us out of the predicament we find ourselves in.”
—Carl Icahn, Chairman, Icahn & Co., Inc.
From the Hardcover edition.
Blood, Guts, and Feathers
Booneism #1: Don't rush the monkey, and you'll see a better show.
Risk has always been a part of my life. I'm not sure whether I'm drawn to it or it's drawn to me, but at every point in my eighty years, I've been faced with a challenge, and in just about every instance I've taken it. Even my birth was a do-or-die proposition.
My mother went into labor on May 21, 1928. It was a long ordeal, and things weren't going well. The doctor, George Wallace, took my father, Tom, into a small room and closed the door. He had a grave look on his face, and my father immediately spotted a large book on a table. He assumed it was a Bible.
"Your wife has been in labor a long time, and she can't deliver. I'm worried about her. You can save your wife or your baby, but not both," Dr. Wallace said.
My father wasn't an either-or sort of guy. He was a natural-born risk taker and the son of a Methodist preacher. And so when Dr. Wallace, who happened to be a surgeon, told him that it was either my mother, Grace, or me, my father refused to choose. He pleaded with the doctor to try the first Caesarean section in that hospital's history.
"Well, Tom, I've heard about a C-section, but I've never done one," the doctor said. He pointed to the book on the table. "All I've got is a page and a half and one picture in that medical book to go by."
"We're gonna pray, and you're gonna deliver the baby," my father told him.
A short time later, Dr. Wallace came out of the operating room with a broad smile on his face. He had just performed his first Caesarean. The procedure wouldn't be repeated at that hospital for more than twenty-five years. Dr. Wallace was a surgeon-no general practitioner would have ever performed a C-section-and he'd lived in that small town in Oklahoma for just two years. The odds of him being the man that delivered me were slim at best. I've always thought I was the luckiest man alive, and right from the start I proved it.
"You've got a little boy," Dr. Wallace told my father. "And your wife is doing fine."
the sign read: welcome to holdenville. where the pavement ends, the west begins, and the rock island crosses the frisco. And that, sports fans, was Holdenville, a railroad town in eastern Oklahoma, a speck in the grand sweep of the Great Plains, where the open land was vast, rolling, and endless.
My father was in the oil business. Outgoing, generous, a great
storyteller, and a gifted poker player, he arrived in Holdenville at age twenty-five. He was a lawyer but soon realized that law was nowhere near as exciting as oil. So he became an independent land man, convincing landowners to lease him their mineral rights, which he in turn sold to oil companies. I was an only child, but I was always surrounded by family who lived next door: my grandmother Nellie Molonson; my widowed aunt, Ethel Reed; and my cousin Billy Bob, who was like an older brother to me. My parents were hardworking, thrifty, honest, and self-sufficient. They came from an era when a job was viewed as a privilege, not a right. I grew up during the Great Depression, but our family always had food on the table. My grandmother had a large vegetable garden, and each night she served fresh or canned vegetables. Some nights we had meat to go with the vegetables, and some nights we didn't, but we were never hungry.
My mother, Grace-the disciplinarian in our family-instilled important lessons in me early on, which prepared me for the...
Ch. 1 Blood, Guts, and Feathers 15
Ch. 2 "A Big Deal Takes as Much Time as a Little Deal" 25
Ch. 3 Starting Over 59
Ch. 4 The Bottom of the Canyon 75
Ch. 5 Loading the Boat 93
Ch. 6 It's All About the Team 113
Ch. 7 Learning to Live with Peak Oil 127
Ch. 8 Going Long and Scoring Big 155
Ch. 9 Stepping Up My Giving 165
Ch. 10 "Roll Up the Maps!" 191
Ch. 11 Mixing Oil and Water 211
Ch. 12 The Biggest Deal of My Career: Wind 225
Ch. 13 The Big Idea: An Energy Plan for America 235
Afterword: Going Forward 247
Posted October 21, 2008
Listen to T Boone Pickens and understand the history and <BR/>future of this nation's energy issues......I chose the <BR/>audiobook version and think itis well worth the price....<BR/>At 80 years young, Mr Picken's life is asactive as ever.<BR/>And this work provides a glimpse into the energy concerns<BR/>that face this country in the years to come. Along with <BR/>the necessarysteps to secure a plentiful energy supply....<BR/>A self made man with an important message in these tough<BR/>economic times.....Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 29, 2008
No text was provided for this review.