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Key to success: Vision Key to success: Passion Key to success: Perseverance Key to success: Preparation Key to success: Courage Key to success: Integrity Key to success: The American Dream Keys to success homepage More quotes on Passion More quotes on Vision More quotes on Courage More quotes on Integrity More quotes on Preparation More quotes on Perseverance More quotes on The American Dream


Richard Schultes

The Father of Modern Ethnobotany

And, the professor had put out on a bookshelf over there, six books. He said, "Instead of a laboratory, this week I want you to read one of these books." I must have been very busy, so I flew over and I picked out the smallest book. That book changed my life. It was written by a physiological psychologist, Heinrick Kluver, on the peyote cactus. I got so excited about this, this beautifully written book that I went to Professor Ames, and I said, "Do you think I could write my undergraduate thesis -- we have to have for honors an undergraduate thesis here -- on peyote?" I had made a report on that book, and I said, "This is what I want to go into."
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Norman Schwarzkopf

Commander, Operation Desert Storm

I did not come into the Army to be a lieutenant, or a captain, or a major. I always thought I was going to be a General. At least I intended to be a General. If I started pumping gas, I would want to be the CEO of Shell Oil. Okay? So I always aimed high, my sights were always set very high.
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Stephen Schwarzman

Chairman and CEO, The Blackstone Group

I went back and met with my partner, and I said, "We're going to raise a billion dollars," and at that time, there were only two other organizations on the planet that had a billion dollars, and he said, "How can we do that? We don't have any experience." And I said, "I know we can." I said, "The time is right." We're in the '80s -- it's sort of 1986. There's enormous momentum. Leveraged buy-outs are becoming very popular. They're going on the covers of magazines, on the front pages of newspapers. There aren't enough vehicles to take advantage of this. We're well-known people. And he said, quite intelligently, "That's a long way from a billion dollars," and I said, "I just know we can do this, and in fact, if we tell people that we want a billion dollars, then if they were going to just give us $10 million for a small thing, they'll give us 50 million, okay, because we'll have scaled up expectations." And he said, "You know, I'm going to be a good partner, but I think we're biting off more than we can chew," and he was probably right. We ended up raising $850 million, going through enormous amounts of difficulty. We subsequently raised another 100 million from one of those investors. So we got to 960 actually, at the end, and it launched the firm in a scale where we always did very big things, because that's what I wanted to do. It's also what my partner wanted to do. He just didn't know that that was achievable. And you know, none of us knew, but he was a good enough partner and a smart enough man to also back my vision of what I thought was achievable.
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Stephen Schwarzman

Chairman and CEO, The Blackstone Group

We were in the recession and real estate was collapsing. Everybody wanted to sell real estate, and somebody brought us a deal which had a 15-percent yield on it, a bunch of apartment buildings. An -- ironically -- Little Rock, Arkansas, bankruptcy of a savings and loan. I don't know if it was the same one that was involved with, you know, the more popular things of the time, and we could borrow money off of that 15-percent yield and earn about 23, 24 percent at the bottom of a recession with apartments that were close to new. And I said, "Well, what can go wrong here? The economy can't go any worse than it is now. If the economy gets stronger, then rents will go up. It's hard to borrow money now " (at that time). And even with the difficulty of borrowing money, we were earning 24 percent on our equity. So I figured when times got better, money would be more available, interest rates would be down further, you could borrow more on the property, and so there was no downside, there was only upside. The present moment we were doing it was really already excellent. So why not just buy as much real estate as you could possibly find? And there was a whole country of real estate to be found at that time. Now to me, this doesn't go into the blinding insight mode. Anybody, when told those same facts, I would assume, would act rationally and would be buying real estate. In point of fact, the problem was everybody who would normally be buying real estate had already lost a fortune and was in no position, because most of them were either bankrupt or undergoing enormous difficulties with their existing properties. They couldn't go ahead, and if they went to a bank to borrow money, they were creating bankruptcies for the same banks, so the banks didn't want to talk to them, and we were sort of there alone with two or three other groups of people who had never been in real estate and saw the same things.
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Stephen Schwarzman

Chairman and CEO, The Blackstone Group

Stephen Schwarzman: When I was at Yale, I figured out what I wanted to do, but I didn't know it existed. I figured that I wanted to be a telephone switchboard -- and we don't have telephone switchboards, just about, anymore -- but I wanted to have coming in enormous amounts of data, I wanted it to go into a central processor, and I wanted some kind of output. But I really wanted the volumes of input, and I didn't know where in the world I could find a job like that. I didn't know it was investment banking. I didn't have any real understanding of investment banking, so I just started looking around, and I guessed Pan Am wasn't it, and advertising wasn't it. Consulting was okay, but nobody really listened to you. I mean they do, but usually you're hired for political purposes as often as real purposes. You know, have one executive's view be the controlling one, or to convince a board to do something that maybe they don't want to do. But I was very lucky. As soon as I sort of found this corporate finance field, I said, "That's it."
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Stephen Schwarzman

Chairman and CEO, The Blackstone Group

There was one of these development institutions, like the World Bank -- it had a different name -- and they had a variety of bonds outstanding, and each of those bonds had what's called covenants, which are really restrictions in them. The bank wanted to do something, but wasn't able to because some of these issues forbid them, and they still wanted to do something, but they couldn't get those bonds in. They couldn't call them. They were stuck with it. It was an important initiative, and everybody was real concerned. They didn't know what to do. So nobody could solve the problem, and I was one of the people working on this, and I remember going home at night and I often think of things when I'm sleeping. I don't sleep real deep REM stuff, and I woke up, and I said, "You know what? What's the problem here? The problem is that these bond-holders want to be protected for something, and what's the worst that can happen to them? The worst that can happen is, if you did the bad thing and it didn't work out, they'd lose their money, right?" So, I said, "Why don't we just take a bunch of money" -- because banks always have money -- "and just dedicate that money behind those bonds and go ahead and do whatever we want to do. Because the worst that can happen is that they lose their money, and if we assure them that they could never lose their money, then they don't have to worry. And if they don't have to worry, they have no cause for damages against the institution for going ahead and doing something. So I came in with some elaborate sort of proposal to do that for large amounts of money -- at that point, large amounts were hundreds of millions, now it would be tens of billions -- and everybody just sort of sat there and went, "Geez, no one's ever done this," and I said, "Well, so what? Aren't we addressing the problem?"
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