Jerry Jones

SCRAM­BLER: OIL WILD­CAT­TER, FOOT­BALL REV­O­LU­TION­ARY; OWNER, DAL­LAS COW­BOYS

Forbes - - CON­TENTS -

In my mid-30s, I would have an­nual vis­its with Sam Wal­ton. At that time I was pri­mar­ily in the oil and gas busi­ness and some real es­tate. I asked him very early in our ac­quain­tance if he had one rule that he prac­ticed, what would it be, and I have ap­plied it ever since. “If you are not un­der­manned, you’re over­staffed, and you’ll never see your he­roes.” What he meant: Keep your la­bor or your ex­pense down and max­i­mize the re­spon­si­bil­ity you ex­tend to fewer peo­ple. When you do that you will see the peo­ple who have the abil­ity and mo­ti­va­tion to do the work.

When I bought the Cow­boys in 1989, Tex Schramm had done a mar­velous job cre­at­ing vis­i­bil­ity. What was lack­ing was the abil­ity to mon­e­tize the vis­i­bil­ity—to bring back home juice. When we first met, he said that foot­ball would be a hell of busi­ness if you didn’t have to play those games. With Sam Wal­ton in mind, I set out to have a fran­chise that could have fi­nan­cial vi­a­bil­ity, win or lose. I call it bring­ing the ten-pound bass in on the one-pound test line.

The in­ef­fec­tive peo­ple take care of them­selves. Some­one has to pro­duce or it be­comes ap­par­ent where they are. We need peo­ple with across-the-board knowl­edge in terms of what we are try­ing to do. One of the real plusses of oil and gas ex­plo­ration is you can do it with a rel­a­tively small staff. We prob­a­bly have only a dozen in­volved in run­ning the Cow­boys and re­lated busi­nesses. I am my own pres­i­dent and GM; if you elim­i­nate my fam­ily you prob­a­bly have only two or three peo­ple in­volved. You can do a lot of things with fewer peo­ple if you are will­ing to take a lot of risk. There is def­i­nitely a cor­re­la­tion.

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