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Booneisms: 8 Things We Learned From T. Boone Pickens

Booneisms: 8 Things We Learned From T. Boone Pickens

T. Boone Pickens, who died Wednesday at 91, shook up the corporate world in the 1980s with his hostile takeover attempts. He was also a titan of U.S. oil and gas exploration — starting out as a wildcatter — and made and lost fortunes on the markets.

Pickens, who was also a force in behind-the-scenes conservative politics and a philanthropist, had an unabashed drive to win and to build wealth.

But he was also witty, folksy, often sentimental, and liked to share his “Booneisms” with anyone who would listen. Here are a few of his words of wisdom.

See Also: T. Boone Pickens — Oil Tycoon, Corporate Raider And Hedge Fund Manager — Dies At 91

Have A Plan

Booneism: “A fool with a plan can beat a genius with no plan.”

In graduation addresses Pickens said he got that from his father who also told him he was worried the young Boone might be neither. His dad’s words: “Your mother and I are concerned that we have a fool with no plan.”

Stay Focused On A Goal

Booneism: “When you are hunting elephants, don’t get distracted chasing rabbits.”

But Take Action

Booneism: “Don’t fall victim to what I call the ‘ready-aim-aim-aim-aim’ syndrome. You must be willing to fire… After all, a plan without action is not a plan — it’s a speech.”

You Don’t Need To Be In Office To Wield Influence

Booneism: “Hard to become a billionaire in public office. Legally, anyway.”


Booneism: “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.”

Pickens saw winners and losers in every situation and wanted to always win. That extended to his financial support of the football program at his alma mater Oklahoma State University. He was generous in supporting it – but wanted return in the form of wins, especially over rival Oklahoma University, and often meddled in the program.

"Over the years, him and I have butted heads a lot, but we do think a lot alike and we have a common goal," OSU Coach Mike Gundy once said. "He wants to win every game. He's a competitor."

See Also: A Closer Look At The New Clean Energy ETF

But If You Do Lose, Move On

Booneism: “When a game was over, it was over. You never dwell on a loss.”

Pickens lost tons of money over the years — famously noting about his too-early foray into wind energy, “I lost my ass on wind.” But while he hated to lose, he said he learned from his high school basketball coach that when you do, you move on to working on the comeback.

Be An Optimist

Booneism: “Act like the fella who fell off the top of a 10-story building…as he passed the third floor, he said, ‘I’m not dead yet. So far, so good.’”

Making A Billion Is Hard Work

And of course, one of the all-time greatest tweets.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Richard M. Wolff


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