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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


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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Vincent Scully

Architectural Historian

I always wanted to write and I always wanted to be an English major. But I used to run my dog down a beautiful avenue -- actually by Olmsted, the great landscape architect -- in New Haven. And I used to try to figure out the plans of the houses, what room was where, and where the dining room was, where the living was, stuff like that. So I began to feel for those things. But they were just ordinary common houses in New Haven, like the one I lived in. And then when I went to Yale, it never occurred to me to do anything with architecture or with history of art. I majored in English. I had wonderful teachers. But my very last year, I took one art history course. And just by chance after the war, five years later, when I went back to graduate school, instead of going into English I wanted to do something fresh and I went into the history of art. And everything opened up for me. All of a sudden, those common houses in New Haven became actually the subject of my dissertation. And I began to write on American domestic architecture and American vernacular architecture of the 19th century. And out of that, my students began to work in that field. And Bob Venturi began to design in connection with it. And Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk came up from Princeton to the Yale Architecture School and began to study the urbanism of those houses along Edgewood Avenue as they related to each other. And out of this came what they're now calling the New Urbanism, which is really a revival of the principles of traditional urbanism. And you know, we needed to revive them because the modern movement and redevelopment and so on has pretty much destroyed -- along with other things -- has pretty much destroyed the idea of community in the United States, the structure of community in most of our cities. It's the most pressing need that we have in terms of a revival. So it's really in a way all chance. It's all because I used to run my dog up and down Edgewood Avenue.
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Vincent Scully

Architectural Historian

Vincent Scully: We experience all works of art, all works of visual art, all works anyway, in at least two ways. One is best described by a 19th century psychological word called empathy. We are affected as we feel it in our own bodies. Along with that though, we are affected according to everything we know. In other words, all our cultural baggage. So we're affected physically and by association. And the two things affect each other. The trouble with most of the present school of linguistic criticism and so on is that it deals only with the associative factor. And Umberto Eco, who is one of the best semiologists I think, once said to me, "Oh, yes, of course, I can deal only with the sign system, not with empathy." He knew all about empathy too. So I do think the two things are there. And one deals with both. A system which deals only with works of art as sets of signs is totally missing its fundamental effect on the psyche through the physical presence of the viewer. The other thing is, of course, that clearly our sign system changes all the time. So our experience of works of art always changes. The meanings of works of art really change as cultures change and human beings change. But the empathetic factor, while it changes too, I think doesn't change as radically, doesn't change as much. I think there is a depth of perception there, which I don't mean to confuse anything like Jung's "collective unconscious" or anything like that, but which is somehow connected with levels of experience within us that go deep back into basic physical feelings of uneasiness, exultation, whatever they are.
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Glenn Seaborg

Discoverer of Plutonium

Glenn Seaborg: Well, it was in Gilman Hall, Room 307. It was a stormy night. Art Wahl, my first graduate student, was performing the oxidation experiment and it was just clear that we were able to oxidize this new alpha particle emitter for the first time under conditions that no other element would be oxidized in that way. So that this led to the discovery and that was exciting. Perhaps another exciting point of my career was when I finally realized that the elements should fit in the periodic table as actinide elements. The actinide concept. I remember that I was preparing a report for a visiting committee to come on the following Monday and I dictated this report to one of the women in the laboratory, a chemist, but who was also able to take shorthand, and by the way who had been a classmate of mine at UCLA, and it was while I was dictating that report that this idea really crystallized. I said, "Oh, it must be this way." I dictated that concept, and that report -- just as it was dictated on that day in July of 1944 -- has been published in what is called the National Nuclear Energy Series, the Plutonium Project Record. That was certainly one of the most exciting moments of my life, when I just got this concept that this is the way the periodic table should be rearranged.
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