VIP Speaker Series: Roy Spence on Dreaming Big

Uploaded by UTMcCombsSchool on 12.05.2011


Hi everyone.
My name is Eva Goldberg and I'm a member of the VIP
Distinguished Speakers Committee, part of the
undergraduate business council.
Today, we have Dean Thomas Gilligan, dean of the McCombs
School Business interviewing Roy Spence, chairman and
co-founder of GSD&M Idea City.

We will begin tonight with a Q&A between Dean Gilligan and
Mr. Spence and we'll open the floor to
Q&A from the audience.
As a reminder, today's event is going to end at 6:30, so
please don't leave before that time.
Also, make sure your phones are on silent.
Thomas Gilligan is the 10th dean of the McCombs School of
Business at the University of Texas at Austin and currently
holds the Centennial Chair in business education leadership.
Prior to his appointment at McCombs, Doctor Gilligan has
held several key administrative roles at the
Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern
He received his BA at the University of Oklahoma, and
his PhD in Economics at Washington University.
He taught economics at the California Institute of
Technology and during his tenure at USC, he held
visiting appointments at Stanford University and
Northwestern University.
He was the recipient of a national fellowship at the
Huber Institution of War and Peace and was a staff
economist at the Council of Economic Advisers
at the White House.
He also served in the United States Air Force
from 1972 to 1976.
His areas of interest include microeconomics, applied price
theory, industrial organization, anti-trust
economics, and public choice.
Roy Spence is co-founder and chairman of GSD&M Idea City, a
leading marketing communications
and advertising company.
He's also now a co-founder and CEO of the Purpose Institute,
and starting a hot sauce company--
Righteous hot sauce coming your way.
--and the Purpose Institute is a consulting firm whose
purpose is to help companies find their purpose.
So under Roy's leadership, his agency has helped grow some of
world's most successful brands, such as Southwest
Airlines, Wal-Mart, Dreamworks, the PGA tour, BMW
Global, US Air Force, Hallmark, and the Clinton
Global Initiative.
Roy has been a trusted adviser to legendary leaders such as
Sam Walton and Herb Kelleher from Southwest Airlines.
His council has also been sought by US Presidents and
the State Department and the Department of Defense.
Roy has been named Ad Man of the Year, Idea Man of the
Century, and has been interviewed by The Wall Street
Journal, New York Times, USA Today, Business Week, US News
& World Report, Esquire, Fast Company, and Fortune.

So, and also many cable news and networks for his
prospective on marketing and finding and fulfilling an
organization's purpose.
He's been married 32 years and has three kids.
And he's a member of the board of directors at the Lyndon
Baines Johnson Foundation and is a distinguished alumnist of
the University of Texas.

Thanks, Eva.
Good job.
And welcome everybody.
Thank you for braving the elements to come out for
today's event.
I really appreciate it.
And Roy, thank you very much for coming by.
The format here is I get to ask some questions, background
questions, designed to embarrass you.
And I know you enjoy that a lot.
But I think since I've come to UT--
I've been here about 18 months, and I've been just
struck by the iconic images that exist at UT, the Bebo,
the Longhorn hand sign, the tower.
But I think one of the most powerful iconic symbols at UT
is the phrase "What starts here changes the world".
Could you tell us a little about that?
You're the inventor of that.
Tell us how you came by that and why you think it's so
important for the university.
Well Tom, thanks for inviting me.
Hi everybody.

It's great to be here.
In a short story I'll tell you, first of all, that I came
to the University of Texas from a little town called
Brownwood, It beat Graham this year, by the way--
that's a little joke.

I'll never be able to repay what this
university did for me.
Number one, it leveled the playing field for me.
I was a little kid from a little town and I kept
thinking about all those--
the Dartmouths and Harvards, and the Yales.
You know, the little schools.
Those little states.
And I came here and got a level playing field.
I got to meet my partners in business.
GSD&M, we started the company called Media 70, when we were
here-- before you all were born.
And by the way it's a great marketing lesson.
Our company was called Media 70.
And it was perfect until January 1, 1971.
Don't name your company after a year.

Like Brazil 66, or whatever.
And then, I met my wife here.
So it's just this blessed thing.
And when Larry Faulkner asked us to work on a campaign for a
capital campaign, we came up with a concept and the line,
"We're Texas".
And we looked around for the perfect voice.
And we found a guy named Walter Cronkite, who never had
done a voice over for anybody, anywhere, any
commercial, at any time.
And we tracked him down in LA, and he agreed to do the voice.
And in the line-- the first line, that we really-- that
the line that I think summarizes it all is that it
says there's a spinning clock at the tower,
in Cronkite's voice.
And mine's not quite there, but it says, "At the
University of Texas, we don't change the world.
We change people who change the world." And then, working
with the ad department, they added on to the communications
department, "what starts here changes the world", so that's
the birthplace of it.
And I will tell you this, I go across the country speaking.
And I'm fabulous.
But whenever I play my television reel, and I end
with Cronkite with that spot, "we don't change the world, we
change people who change the world", everybody wish they
had that for their university, because it's the truth.
This university has helped and changed you-- hopefully for
the better--
so you can go out and change the world.
That was the birthplace of it.
Very powerful message though.
Still durable.
How old is it, by the way?
I guess about ten years or something.
It's the longest--
most campaigns that you see on the NCAA, my beaker's better
than your beaker, I got more Nobel prize winners than you
do, and varsities, or whatever, and we--
so, we decided just to break the mold.
Because people don't wake up and say, gosh, I'd like to go
watch a sports event and see a horrible commercial.
They really don't.
So you've got to intrigue them.
You've got to entertain them, and then, you've got to
persuade them that what you have is a
genuine value to them.
So this campaign started and it's been the longest running
campaign of any university, I think, perhaps in the country.
So you touched on your boyhood growing up in Texas.
What was your very first job and were you any good at it?
Those are two separate questions.

My first job, I was six years old, and my dad, Big R--
he was 6'5", I don't know what happened.
I don't think I was his.
But anyway, I don't want to go into that unless there's a
therapist here.
My mother was a teacher in school and 36 years a Civics
teacher, and couldn't cook squat.
You know what I'm saying?
But she was a historian, an actor, a book writer, a
political figure.
But she could make blackberry cobbler.
Not that kind.
But the real kind of blackberries.
So my dad planted a blackberry patch, and I decided that I--
six years old, I hated it.
It was thorny, it was muddy, there was dew, there was
mosquitoes, and the blackberries were all over
your hands.
So I thought, hell, I'll make money at that.
So I went down to the little grocery store in Brownwood and
they had those-- you don't remember this, but-- old
wooden little boxes when they had strawberries.
And I got them to give them to me.
I'm six years old, and I went door to door, selling
I charged $0.25.
And then I got real, the next year, arrogant and I raised
the price to $0.30.
And the first next door neighbor looked at me and
said,--they called me Roy Eito; Little Roy--
Roy, we like your blackberries and you're real cute, but
don't gouge me.
So that's a great lesson.
Even if you're cute, you can't charge too much.
So I sold blackberries.
And then mowed yards.
And then the first real job I was here at the University of
Texas too, where I worked at RTM as a runner.
And then we started the company Media 70 in college.
And we started our business right out of school.
So I've never done a resume.
That's good.
Because I don't have-- it's not very good.
Well, you've had an incredible career.
What do you think sets you apart from your peers?

I think, first of all, our partnership of 40 years.
Now listen to this.
Everybody wants to be a partner.
They just don't want to deal with the ship.
Because sometimes it ends with a T.

Everybody wants to be a friend.
You just don't want to deal with the friendship.
And the relationship.
Everybody wants to be a leader.
You just don't want to deal with the leadership.
But the ship is where it all happens.
You've got to, first of all, believe in your heart you
don't have the corner on the smarts.

And it's simply more fun to do things together.
So I think what set us apart was we started together.
And by the way, although we've gone different ways in terms
of growth, we're still together.
So I think what set us apart was, first of all, the culture
of believing that we're all in this together.
And secondly, it's a great asset, we were naive.
And we just didn't believe what everybody else said.
And the third thing, we were in Austin, Texas, and not
Madison Avenue.
And we kicked their butts.
And it was so fun.
I'm not kidding you.
They didn't know what hit them.
We walked beneath the legs of the giants.
And we did one ad, one time, and we were really on a roll
in The New York Times.
Who are those guys?
Remember Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids?
Anyway, that's another story.
But I think it's the partnership and the belief
system that we were simply better together.
Where did you develop that capacity to work that well
with partners?

I think it's sort of--
it's kind of innate.
And some people are loners.
You know the old Texas thing, one riot, one ranger, and
sometimes that's fun.
But I think the fact that we met each other in school--
you know, there's this old adage, don't go in business
with your friends.
I've got an idea.
Why don't you go in business with your enemies?
Wouldn't that be fun?

My point is that we were friends.

I want to go out and let's go do business with
people who are asses.
I really think that's awesome.
Or would you rather do business with your friends.
And you know what friendship is?
It's not during the good times.
It's during the bad times.
And I'll tell you what friendship is, too, having the
trust that when someone gets stronger than you, and it
always happens in a relationship, you have the
strength to say I'll let you be stronger than me.
And that person's not going end up crushing you.
That's what the ship is all about.
So I think it's inherent believe that
we were better together.
That's what I believe.
And I believe it's a rare trait now.
And I think more people need to have partnerships.
Not just legal.
Because that doesn't mean anything.
But in your heart, your soul, and your spirit.
Tell us who you admire the most in the world.
Not professionally, but just--
That's a--
That's a good answer.
That's the right answer.
We can stop there.
They always say suck up to the host early.

I've never told this story.
But I'll tell you.
My sister was born with spinal bifida.
Does anybody know what that is?
It's a birth defect.
Back then, it literally--
she was older than me.
And its a birth defect that you can actually detect now in
a sonogram, but couldn't back then.
And all your nerve endings end up on your spine and you never
have nerve endings in your legs.
And the average age that you're supposed to live, when
she was born, was two weeks.
She lived to be 49 years old.
She actually went to college.
My mother invented ways to take her to the bathroom.
All these kinds of things.
And so I admire her the most because even though she didn't
ever walk, she used to tell me that you don't have to have
legs to fly.

And you don't have to have legs to fly.

Is there something you haven't yet mastered that you want to?

Slowing down.
But I don't know if that's really true.
I don't know if I want to do that.
I'd like to live forever.
I don't want that one either.
I think that mastering something is, in my opinion--
and I was taught this by Sam Walton--
mastering something is a self fulfilling end game.
That somehow, you are as good as you
could ever be at something.
I don't buy it.
I believe in--
I'm actually walking across America, which is another
story, literally, by myself, which is another
story, but I'm busy.
Thanks for stopping by.
On my wall, I was in Warren, New Hampshire, and went
through this little antique store.
I had two little American flags in my backpack.
Just walking, because I was looking for--
I took a picture.
I'm taking it-- it's going to take me nine years, because
I've got a day job.
You all can come with me if you want to.
But, I'm taking a picture of something good every mile.
Because I was in New York City one time about four years ago,
watching Nancy Grace.
That's a deadly combination--
New York and Nancy.
Every priest is bad.
Every mother's bad.
Every dog is bad.
And I just said that's not the America I know.
So you can see the logic.
I'll just walk across America.
Try to explain that to my wife.
But I actually did.
And I decided to take a picture of something good.
In Warren, New Hampshire, back to this mastery things.
See, I circled back around.
I got back around to it.
I found the sign.
It says, "I'm not there yet.
But I'm closer than I was yesterday."
I think even if you're the best artist, or the best
pianist, or the best ad person, or the best
mathematician, you've never mastered anything.
But you're closer today then you were yesterday.
So that's the way I look at life.
You and I were talking on the way over on the importance and
beauty of failure.
So what's the biggest mistake you've ever
made in your career?
What'd you learn from it?
That failure, by the way, that's another story.
I think and I hope you don't mind me saying a cuss word,
believe in your own bullshit.

No matter if you're 20, or 10, or 50.
At some point, you start believing--
and I'm going to tell a quick story about the
University of Texas.
I actually went to a class when I was senior.
You know what I'm say?
Anyway, I took notes and stuff.
And because that was rare for me, because I was--
but anyway.
And just when you think you're in control of life-- so I took
the exam, it was perfect.
Didn't know the professor, I put his name out And I knew--
I went in there and did the little blue book--do you all
still have blue books?
You do?
Well, I did one.
You know like, it was a test, and I filled it out.
And I wrote it.
By the way, I never took a multiple choice course in my
entire college career, because you have to know stuff.
Essays-- you know what I'm sayin'.
I'm serious.
I've dropped courses if they say it's
going to multiple choice.
Don't do that, because you have to know shit.
So anyway.
I filled it out.
And I turned it in.
I aced it.
And got the blue book back two weeks later.
It was a C.
So I went straight to the professor, and I said it's
I took down your lecture word for word.
And he said, well, I guess I just gave a C lecture.

Just when you think--
and my point to all of you is, you've got to go
with your gut instincts.
The biggest mistake I've always made is when I've let
money override my judge of character of people.
And by the way, you have to have character in order to
judge character.

And I think the biggest mistakes I've ever made, and
it's time again, I've made so many, but hopefully, of the
mind, not the heart.
But it's when I don't follow my guts about people.
And I let money be more important.
And it never ends up right.
You'll always lose money, or always be on the bad end if
you go into business with bad people.
That's the biggest failure.
Not following my guts.
You talk about one of the organizations you're involved
with today and what it does to set itself apart from its
I'll tell you--
did you all get to see Herb Kelleher last year, anybody?

Southwest Airlines?
We were 28 years old.
We were kids.
He had 8 airplanes.
And we were on the road.
And he picked me up.
And that's a whole other story.
And he taught me a couple things.
One, how to drink and smoke on the job.
I didn't know he drank until he came into a
meeting sober one time.

But, let me tell you, I've introduced him that way to
chairmans of boards.
And the reason I love Herb is he taught me a great lesson.
In business or life, take the competition seriously.
But not yourself.
Can I repeat that, people?
All you serious minded people out there, take the
competition and take your work very seriously.
Or else don't do it.
But don't take yourself too serious.
It's only business.
It's only life.
And he taught me that lesson.
And if you look at Southwest Airlines, that brand exudes
Herb Kelleher and his belief in the golden rule.
And by the way, that's different than he or she who
has the gold, rules.
You hear what I m saying?
We have a deficit in American business of the golden rule.

If you want to live a great life, just treat people like
you want to be treated.
And if you want--
and I promise you.
So that brand being you're now free to move about the country
has been sort of our hallmark.
But it's probably the one because it's got a founder who
believes we're in the freedom business.
And our advertising reflected it.
And it's a great organization.
And it makes money because it stands for something beyond
being a bad airline.
Let's talk about that morale deficit some more.
What do you think the role of corporate social
responsibility ought to be in society?
And where do you think it is today?

You guys-- the young people in the room-- have a chance to
change this model.
And by the way, I'm not young as you, but I'm trying to
change it and always have.
Here's the old business model.
You go out and make money.
And then when you get wealthy enough, you give back.

Let me just repeat that.
The old business model was, I'm going to spend the
majority of my life taking care of me.
And when I get to a point where me is taken care of, I'm
going to go do social responsibility on the side.
That's not how we started our business.
We believe what we wanted to stay together, stay in office,
and make a difference.
The new model of social responsibility is that
everything you do in your business, the way you treat
your employees, the way you treat your vendors, how you
source your material, what difference you're trying to
make in world, all has to be embedded, and then, at some
point, you're not in a charity business.
You're in the business of making a difference and
leaving the place better than you found it.
Can I play a couple of TV spots?
I want to play you three television spots,
if you don't mind.
give him a hand.
He's from Graham Texas.
And I want to play three quick spots about what our deal.
We encourage our talent to tithe their talent, at GSD&M,
to tithe it all the time.
Three spots you're going to see.
One happened a week after 9-11.
We did in one week.
The next is about anti-smoking, and the next is
about saving community colleges, so
if we can play that.
It will be kind of fun to see some stuff.
I am an American.
I am an American.
I'm an American.
I am an American.
I'm an American.
I'm an American.
I am an American.
I am an American.
I am an American.
I'm an American.
I am an American.
I am an American.
I am an American.
I am an American.
I am an American.
I am an American.
I am an American.
I am an American.
I'm an American.
I am an American.
I am
An American.
I am an American.
I am an American.
I am American.
I am America.
I'm an American.
I'm an American.
I'm an American.
I am an American.
I'm an American.
I am an American.
I'm an American.


When you're used to always doing something with a
cigarette, it can be hard doing it without one.
But if you can learn how to drink coffee without
cigarettes, then you can learn to do anything without
It's true, by the way.
Hello, 911.
Someone's trying to break into my house.
Our local community college has budget cuts and we're a
little short on police at the moment.
Do you happen to have a rolling iron or a golf club?
Do you know any kicks or pressure holds?
How about Jujutsu?
Less support for higher education means
fewer trained police.
83% of first responders are trained in community colleges.
Are you limber?
Can you run?
America's colleges and universities.
We teach the people who solve the problems
and change the world.
So part of the answer on social responsibility,
depending on the business you're in-- and we want to
talk about this in a little bit, hopefully--
being a company whose core purpose is to improve lives,
and more and more, I'm so optimistic after this
Armageddon has hit economically, it rattled our
soul, that, at some point, if you were in business to make a
difference, the money will follow.
And so the other way around.
Consumers in this country, and around the world, are not
going to do business with companies that they believe
are business not to help them and society.
And I'm not talking about just environmental issues.
How you treat your employees, number one.

How you treat your community and your
stakeholders, and all that.
So I believe social responsibility--
business is a great engine for social change if used right.
Your generation has a chance to start the model and say
it's not the model of I'm going to work for 20 years to
make my money and then I'm going to give back.
I'm going to work for 20 years to make a
difference from the start.
And it will change the world.
In fact, there's a line, that we don't change the world, we
change people who change the world.
That's what you're going to do if you do it the right way.
Amazing Thank you.
Well, we're going to turn it over to the audience.
The questions they ask are always better and harder.
Before we do, however, we had our last speaker of the series
was Doug Ulman, the CEO of the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
He left a message for you.
Oh God.

No, that's all right, we were planning some other stuff.
Well, so let me ask this question.
A lot of students out here.
You've given some advice about how they should lead their
professional careers.
What about just some practical success advice
you would give them?
How to sell themselves?

Let me tell you what I believe.
I didn't know any of this.
So I'm just going to tell you what I what I believe and what
I've learned.
And I really am very passionate about this,
especially to the folks here that go to college and go to
Number one.
You need to decide--
this is going to be a little different advise to you.
You need to decide not what you want to do but what you
love to do.

And you need to decide what do you love to do.
Because I don't believe in the Peter's principle.
Have you heard that?
That you become-- some point, you just get burned out.
You don't get burned out by doing what you love to do.
You get burnt out trying to be average at what you're bad at.
That's how you get--
I took a--
I was in 8th grade.
I turned in an Emerson paper.
I got a C because it had 28 misspelled words.
The next year, I had another teacher, turned it in.
It was another Emerson paper.
I had 31 misspelled words.
I got an A.
I brought it home and my mother said, you don't know
how to spell.
[? Hire one. ?]

Spend your life becoming great at what you're good at.
Don't listen to the advice of you've got to be better, and
better, and better, at things that you're bad at.
I'm not talking about your character.
But go spend your life-- so my point is decide
what you love to do.
And by the way, I would encourage you to
go to start a business.
We'll get back to that in a second.
The ship's not coming in, people.
The miracle of America is, and the miracle of the countries
around the world, now, the ones that understand that we
must stand tall for small, it is the engine of
It is the engine of people.
Take Cupcake, that Airstream thing.
Have you all seen it?
Well, I'm starting Roy's Hot Sauce.
I bought a 1973 Airstream--
from a billion dollar ad guy to trailer trash.
I'm starting it next month.
Because why?
The thrill is creating something that
wasn't there before.
But I was buying time for [? Gram ?]
to get the shit done.
But I'm telling you my point is I think we need to talk
about young people inspiring to start their own business.
This is Doug Ulman, the CEO of the Lance Armstrong

Hey Roy.
It's Doug Ulman.
Good to see you.
It's been a long time.
I figured I'd lob a question to you that might be of
benefit to the audience here.
You've been a part of so many great campaigns-- don't mess
with Texas, the initial involvement with LiveStrong
and so many other worthwhile causes.
What piece of advice would you give to folks who are starting
a new venture, either for profit, or non-profit, on how
to really develop a brand for their
organization or their entity?
And keep living strong.

Great question.
I'll repeat it.
If you're starting a company or starting a small business,
don't think you have to be the next Google.
There's not many of them and there's already one.
You know what I'm saying?

I would say this.

If you don't mind, I will-- quick little story.
I was at University of Tulane, where my son is going.
All my kids go to UT and they didn't come here.
But they moved back.
They're prodigal sons and daughters.
I was speaking to a group of people about the power of
purpose in your life, and how if you live your life with
purpose, everything else works out pretty well.
And purpose, by the way, is the difference you're trying
to make in the world.
And if you want to make the best ice cream, go
out and make it.
If you believe you can rake the grounds better, if you can
be a better gardener, doesn't matter.
Don't let anybody tell you what is a
good purpose for you.
Don't let anybody tell you that.
So I was speaking, and two women came up to me in Tulane
not too long ago, beautiful campus, and whatever.
So it's a mother and daughter, and so she said, you know I'm
really worried about this.
I like the purpose thing, there's jobs out there-- her
daughter's name is Melissa, whatever.
You know, she doesn't have a-- she can't get a da da da.
I finally said, excuse me, do you mind if I talk to Melissa
for a minute?
Hi, Melissa.
I'm Roy.
What do you love to do?

And there is that moment just like this moment where she
started to look at mom.
She was suppose to say like accounting.

No offense.
No offense.
But they just spent $300,000 on it.
You know.
I didn't ask her what she wanted to do.
I said what do you love to do?
Thank you.
That's my good side.
And she paused and she said, I love to play the piano.

And when I was in high school, I loved to teach little kids
how to play the piano.
And I said, do you want to start a business with me?
And we'll be up and running in five days.

What do you need to start Melissa's Piano Studio?

That's good.
Do you have one?
Yes sir.
You know, we have one here.
I don't know if she was from New Orleans, but she ought to
have one in her home.
What else do you need?
A place to teach.
My dad passed away not to long ago and my mom lives upstairs.
What else do you need?
A teacher?
I said, that'd be you.
Do you got $250?
She looked at her mom and she said, yeah.
We'll go to right now, we'll get you an
LLC for $169.
We'll take the rest of budget, run a small ad in both the
Tulane paper the Picayune paper, get a social network up
immediately, and on Friday, you will have Melissa's Piano
Studio up and running.
I don't know if she did or not, but I bet she did.
And let me tell you something.
Don't be frozen or frenetic.
Get focused on what you love to do.
And by the way, if you go out and have kids, that's not the
time to start a business.
Do you hear what I'm say?
That is not the time.
It's too late.

Here's the rap.
You know I'm going to go at a job and get my feet on the
ground, and get some money, and then
I'll start a business.
That money is already spent.
Trust me.

Older folks in the room?
It's already spent.
Once you have your kids, it's already spent.
Right now, when you get out of college, the worst thing
that's going to happen is you're going to fail.
As Ann Richards used to tell me, well honey, get over it
and get on with it.

I'm just telling you, it's not for everybody.
But I'm telling you, Tom, if we don't encourage the young
people into the miracle of this nation, do you know that
89% of all the job creation, 90% of all the job creation in
the last decade were created by companies under 500 people.
It's the engine of this country.
Excuse me.
Go ahead.
So Casey's going to take the microphone, bring it around.
If you could wait until he comes so everybody can hear
the questions, that would be great.

You talked a lot about finding your purpose.
And I want to find my purpose.
I'm sure we all want to find our
purpose and work in forever.
And it would be great if we could align that with what we
love to do.
But I think maybe, like a lot of college kids, I'm going
through the I want to save the world thing.
You know, I want to improve society.
But how do you narrow down what your purpose is and how
do you know when you've found it?

If I had that, just like the fountain of youth, those are
the two things, if I had the answer to both of those, I
wouldn't be here.
Yes, I would.
Because I love you.

Let me give you some practical advice.
And it's all I can say is that when I tell the blackberry
story, when I picked blackberries, I realized, at
that moment, I didn't know it at the time, at six years old,
but as I started looking around at my life, I always
felt like, and when people come and they interview, what
are you really good at?
Well, you know, I'm good with people.

Well, you know what?
I friggin' am.

And so, when you're looking at trying to find
that purpose, there's--
I don't know why I said that.
I'm sorry.
I could have pushed it over the edge, but I didn't.
I realized, in college, and I didn't even know it, that I
wanted to be around these people that I met.
And let me just tell you what I said again.
We didn't know what we were going to do.
We just wanted to be together and stay in Austin.
And we wanted, and knew what we said, and we
wanted to save the world.
We wanted to make a difference.
And so, literally, at that moment in time, we didn't know
what we were going to go do as a-- now if you're a doctor,
I'd really rather you go to med school.
You know what I'm say?
And if you're going to build, like buildings and stuff, I'd
really like you to be an engineer.
And if you're going to be a lawyer, well, never mind.
But if you're in the liberal arts area, and you love
business, and you love marketing, and you love these
kind of things, I think, just be aware of
what you love to do.
And by the way, may I also suggest, be aware of the
things you don't like to do.
Literally, write it down.
I don't like to spell.
I don't like to weed.
I like to mow grass.
I don't like to weed.
I'm a planner.
I do roses.
I'm going to hire somebody to weed.
I don't like to weed.
No I don't.
But do you?
Well, some people do like weed.
I don't know.
But I like to build.
So my point to you is be aware of what you love to do.
And be just as aware-- it's called the stop doing list.
And Jim Collins, stop--
don't stop going to class.
I'm not saying that.
And don't stop making your grades.
Because you have to do that.
But there are things in life, at you're age, that you don't
like to do, and people want you to do it, and
pressure you to do it.
Stop doing it.
And when you get the stop doing list, you what happens?
The start doing list becomes the only list you look at.
That's not an easy answer.
But please be aware of the things you love to do and the
things that you're good at.
And by the way, another thought, please don't have
other people envy.
Because if you envy somebody else and try to be like them,
the best you'll ever be is a worse them.
They're already them.
You see what I'm saying?
Oh, I want to be like them.
Well, them is them.
Sit down, OK.

Become a better you.
Become a better you.

So that's my answer.
And it will come to you.
Keep your heart open.
Tell your mind sometimes to shut up.
Let your heart speak for you.
And I know you have got to make money.
I got all that.
I didn't have a-- but at some point, the money will come if
you're around good people, you have passion, a purpose, and
let me just say the second thing-- if you pay the price
to be exceptional.

You've got to pay the price to be exceptional and
the money will come.
That's what I think.

I didn't know that at your age, by the way.
I'm serious.

So how did you convince your first client to go with a
bunch of kids straight out of college with absolutely no
That kind of boggles my mind.
I got them drunk.
I got them drunk.

That's always the answer.

Sometimes it is.

But here's what we realize.
I used to walk in with a portfolio.
Does anybody remember Academy Surplus?
It's still alive, but it used to be run by a guy named Max
Gochman, and I'd walk in and try to get his business, and I
carried an empty portfolio.
And he'd always ask me, well, let me see your work.
Well, I don't have anything.
And then I walked into Jack [? Mortenson ?]
Menswear-- it was on the drag-- and this young man
believed in me.
And he said, well why should I believe you?
And I said I'm going to take you places you've never been.
There's another line I've used once in awhile.
But anyway, no, what I said was, I will tell you this.

You will be our first client.
And we will never, ever forget it.
And we will do whatever it takes to build your business.
And he trusted us.
And he gave us the business because of our sheer passion.
That if you'll give us a chance, we'll
never forget you.
And then it just built from there.
And we failed a lot.
But in the end game, we never were in
the advertising business.
And we tell our associates this now.
We're in the business to build our clients' business.
Advertising is just one of the tools.
And if we build their business, it is the field of
dreams. They'll build ours.
So we just were tenacious.
We didn't give up.
We had Dr Peppers at 10:00, 2:00 and 4:00, and cheese
And seven miles of snow, well, it doesn't snow here, but you
know what I'm saying.
We were not going to fail.

Yes, sir.

You mentioned paying the price of-- how you doing?
You mentioned paying the price to be exceptional.
What price did you have to pay to be
exceptional at what you do?
I think that I go back to the fall.
And that is that we just out worked them.
We just out worked them.
And, you know, they always say outsmart them.
Don't outwork them.
Well, when you're not very smart, that's hard.
And I will tell you this, you give me some young people
around me that are average talent like I am, and you
build a team together, and you outwork the
bastards, you'll win.
And that was what we did.
We'd never let anybody take our dream away from us either.
We never let people say, well, why don't you
go get a real job.
You know, you're not going to make it.
Quick little story, we were walking down to the bank to
borrow $5,000.
And I had a brand new tie-dyed tee shirt and my pony tail.
I was looking good.
And I walked-- no.
I was.
And I walked to a loan officer, and I said, I need to
borrow $5,000 for my business.
And he said, what's your business plan?
And I said, making money.
What's yours?

And he said he'd loan us the money.
And we paid it back a couple weeks ago.
And then, I'll tell you something else that happened.
Ten years ago, I walked into room,
there's this older gentleman.
His name was Robert Sneed.
He had a cane.
Sitting in the chair.
Man walked up to me and said you know that older gentleman
over there?
I said, yeah, that's Robert Sneed.
When I was in college, he helped me out of some tough
While you're here in town.
He said, did you know that Robert Sneed co-signed that
note, 20 years ago, and never told you because he wanted you
to believe that you got it on your own?

And also, paying that price is when someone helps you, you
gotta help somebody else.
And I'll tell you if we'd do more of that today--
so I think, the easy answer is we believed in ourselves.
We believed in each other.
We out worked them.
And we never let anybody take our dream away.
You can take my house away.
And my car, and my motorcycle.
Can't take my dream.
Because you know what?
I have to give that to you.
And I'm not going to.

Thanks for the question, by the way.


Just kind of a fun question.
If you could work on any marketing campaign today, what
would it be and why?
So the question is if I could work on any marketing
campaign, what would it be and why?

Can I have two?
If I was president-- and I'm not going to be--
I would stop and take a deep breath.
And I would say we are not going to do anything else for
the next year and a half until we get jobs
going in this country.
I'd like to market that.
I'd like to market what I've been telling you.
That you can do it.
Oprah's looking at a show with me.
The whole thought is called, Dream It.
Build It.
And the whole idea is to find the Melissas of the world.
And then pool-- the Internet has democratized the ability
to start a business.
By the way, if you go to Elance, you can
get a logo for $200.
We charge $5,000.
You're about to put me out of business and I hope you do.
No, I'm dead serious.
Sit down.
What was the question?
Oh, yeah.

I would get America's young people to create a revolution
of small business.
I would have the banks forced to lend money.
I would say we stood tall for big long enough.
If we can give them the money, surely we can loan money
cheaply to small people.
And it doesn't have to be just young people.
I would market the miracle of America.
Walt Disney said it the best. If you can dream
it, you can do it.
That was the miracle of this country.
Forget republican and democrat.
We've got to start saving the republic of this nation.
And the republic of this nation is in the DNA of all
the people who come here, who have been here, both long term
and short term, that this was the place, where only in
America do we have in our constitution of life,
liberty, and what?
The pursuit of happiness.
I would market that.
Number one.
I'd be good at it, too.
I need to be on TV.
I need to be on TV.
Doctor Phil and those guys-- oh, you've got problems. No.

Well I'm so sorry you know your wife-- well, whatever.

And then, I'll tell you something else.
If we do not cut the drop out rate in this country in
half--in half--
in the next five to ten years, we will not have a republic.
Now you know what the data is, right?
It's stunning.
And by the way, obesity's a huge problem there, because
when-- sometimes you drop out of life, when you're young,
not just school.
We have to market-- don't mess with Texas.
You know what happened there.
Anybody was alive then?
But anyway, here's what happened.
We changed behaviour, without threatening
anybody with fines--
we got out of the liter business and got into the
pride business.
We've got to help people understand that they have a
chance in this country again.
And part of the problem with a dropout is that they've lost
hope that there's a chance that they could have a life
better than them.
Those are the two things, and by the way, they're
I used to get paid a quarter and my mom had no
money, for an A.
I want to pay kids for grades.
You know what I thought?
Oh, I got a quarter.
Oh, if I make an A, I get a quarter.
You know what my mom thought?
I'm an entrepreneur.
I think I'll do good to get paid.
I know you'd so much agree with me, in the audience.
But anyway, my point is we have to try some things to get
people to understand that a dream is
not good enough anymore.
We've got to young people a way to graduate,
because if we do that--
if we do not cut the dropout rate in half, people, I don't
think this country can survive.
So I would take those two things, challenge people to
live their dreams and purpose, and get after
the drop out rate.
And it takes, by the way, local tribal leaders, to go in
there and make sure that happens.
Long story on that, but if you look what they're doing in
Harlem, and some of these places around the country,
where they've taken these kids, and these teachers, and
by the way, we need to champion teachers again.
Not to encourage people to pass tests, but get teachers
who have a passion to teach people so that we can leave
the generation better off than we found it.
Are you so sorry you asked that question?
But it's the truth.
That's what I would do.

What would you say to an entrepreneur who thinks a lot
like you do, who has this idea right now--
What is it?
He's got prototypes--
should he tell his idea in front of all these people?
Go ahead.
Go ahead with your question.
I'm sorry.
What was it?
What would you tell an entrepreneur who has a deal
right now, I can talk about it.
Yeah and I can repeat the question to them.
I've got my idea right now.
I've got the prototype, my products.
I don't have a lot time.
And I don't have capital.
So the question is what would you tell a young entrepreneur,
a junior at University of Texas, doesn't have any time,
and doesn't have any capital.
Here's what I would do.
First of all, don't quit school.
Because there's only a few Michael Dells out there.
But, and this is going to be a little tough love here.

If you really believe in this dream, you need to look at
your calendar.
And you need to create a stop doing list so you can make
time to study this dream.
And Google this dream.
And investigate this dream.
And go down to a bank and talk to a banker.
You need to carve out time.
You need to stop that tough luck.
I don't know what you're doing all during the day.
God knows, I don't want to know.
But my advice to you is if you're really serious about
it, put on paper the things you have to do to graduate.

And then do the other things that you have to.
But at some point, you're going to have stop the want to
do list and start time to nourish this idea.

That's what you have to do.
And I promise you, with the Internet--
I didn't have that in our day, you know.
I invented it.
But I didn't have it.
But that's what I would do.
Does that sound fair?

You talk about partnerships at the beginning.
Sometimes there's strain on the partnership and it ends up
being a threat to the business.
What advice would you give?
What steps should be taken to make sure that the business
and its purpose endure, despite that strain on the
Did you all hear the question?
This is a huge question.
And the question was, in a partnership, just like a
relationship, friendship, there are going to be times
where that partnership is strained.
Here's what I've learned.
I didn't know this.
But I learned instinctively.
First of all, there's got to be somebody in the partnership
that is committed to the ship.

And that was my role.
I didn't even know it.
And I was not going to allow this partnership to dissolve
because we were just growing apart, and growing
differently, which partnerships do.
We allowed some partners to go off and do some other things.
You've got to give--
I'll give you the exact-- and I'll answer your question with
the second part.
If there is not somebody in the partnership that is 100%
dedicated to keeping that ship of state
alive, it will not work.
And it was never spoken in our organization, but that was
what I did.
I was not going to let the partnership fail because I did
something bad, or my partners did.
We all are not perfect.
We make mistakes.
Now, if the partnership is now starting to fall apart, I will
tell you why.
There's not someone committed that will risk all they have
to keep it together.
And sometimes, it has to just go away.
Same thing in a marriage, by the way.
Any ship.
If you don't have someone, if both of you say, well you
know, I do with it, do without it, whatever, it
ain't going to happen.
So I don't know that to be a fact.
There's not any rules and regulations.
But if you don't have someone who's in charge of the ship,
whether it is the CEO, or not the CEO, if someone's not
fully dedicated to saving the ship, the ship will go down.
That's the way it works.
By the way, same thing with the country if we're not
dedicate to the ship.
And right now, the politicians are in business of the
reelection business, not the make a difference business.
And we better get them back in the make
a difference business.

I went off on that again.
But I believe it.
No more questions?
Couple more?
One more question.
This is awesome.
You all are awesome.

You spoke about creating brands for the businesses.
My question to you is, what, according to you, is your
personal brand?
And, has it evolved over time?
I've never answered that question.
Actually, I've never been asked that.
That's a good question.
What's my brand?
Let me tell you what a brand is and what it's not.
A brand is not Snickers commercials that you really
like or Tostitos or whatever.
A brand is a sacred promise that you make in life.
I think.
I didn't know this.
But this is what I've learned.
And when Southwest Airlines said we're in the freedom
business and we're going to give people the freedom to
fly, six months ago, a consultant walked into
Southwest Airline and told them they had to charge for
bags because we're leaving $300 million on the table.
I stood up and said-- and so did other people--
if you do that, you're going to violate the
purpose of this brand.
You're going to violate our sacred promise.
The CEO stood up, Gary Kelly, and said, we're not going to
charge for bags.
y'all go find the $300 million.
You know what we found?
$900 million in new revenue.
Because we didn't break our promise.
I guess what I've tried to promise-- it's in my wallet, I
carry it with all the days of my life, and you don't believe
me, it's right here.
I've got stuff everywhere.
But it says, "Because you're important, everything you do
is important.
When you forgive someone, the universe changes forever.
When you reach out and touch a heart or life, the world
changes forever.
When you do something, seen or non-seen, for somebody else,
the world changes forever."
What I try to do, because of my sister, is that.
And every time I violated that brand, you know who feels the
worst about it?
Because you can run and hide from your mind, but you cannot
run and hide from your heart.
It's the way it is.
That's just the way it is.
And so I'm going to leave you with this.
On this walk across America--

in my website, there's Walking With Roy-- that's my brand--
dot com.
But I'll put it back up.
I'm going to go from Scranton to Youngstown, next time, but
I found that Robert Frost was right.
There are two roads diverged in a yellow woods.
And sorry I cannot travel both and be one traveler.
And long I stood and looked down the
line as far as I could.
There are two roads in life.
And I found, on this walk, because I asked the district
attorney, Ron Earle, then should I carry a
weapon in my backpack?
He said, Roy, there are three things.
Just always remember, if you carry one, you're probably
going to end up using it.
Are you prepared to do that?
Secondly, if it's in your backpack,
it won't help anyway.
And third, I've seen you shoot.
Forget it.
But I went on the road to look for goodness.
And I found you become what you look for.
If you look for enemies, you'll find them.
If you look for hate, it'll live right in your heart.
If you look for gossip, it will consume you.
If you look for fear, it'll follow you all the
days of your life.
But on another road, if you look for friends, you'll be
And if you look for love, it'll lift you up.
And if you look for the truth, it'll set you free.
And if you look for hope, it'll take
you to higher ground.
Get on that road.
Look for friends.
Look for love.
Look for the truth.
And look for hope.
I wish I'd known that a long time ago, but that's
the road I'm on.
And you can't be on both of them.
I tried.
Thank you all for being you.
Hook 'em horns.

Thank you Dean Gilligan.
Thank you Mr. Roy Spencer.
Really enjoyed hearing about your background.
Also, thank you undergraduate business council, office of
student lives, and GSD&M team for helping put on this event.
And as a token of our appreciation, we present you
with this personalized Stetson cowboy hat.