Q: Why did you accept an offer to share your business expertise with Rogers State University students? A: RSU approached me about spending the day at the university as the second "Executive in Residence.” I was not sure what that meant, but after they explained to me the role and the fact that Keith Bailey (former Williams Cos. president) was the first Executive in Residence, I was much more interested. I know several people at RSU in the administration and also know a few professors, and one of my daughters works there. RSU has undergone some dramatic, positive changes in the past years, and it is an exciting place to see. I have enjoyed my visits to RSU for other purposes, and I hope to enjoy my upcoming day and also hope the students and faculty enjoy the day. Q: What are some of the topics you plan to discuss? A: I was asked to speak about how I built my companies, the lessons learned and to talk about leadership. While over the years I have spoken many times about how our companies were created and the lessons learned, I have not often spoken on leadership. Leadership is one of those things that is hard to define, but you know it when you see it. It will be interesting to see how well I manage to convey any thoughts on that topic. I think people do not really think about what leadership skills and characteristics they might have and how to develop those skills. I know I am still working on mine. Q: What's the one thing most people don't realize about starting a business? A: When you start a business everything is so critical; there is no or little room for error. You just do not have any company stamina, so any bobble really hurts. This, to me, is absolutely terrifying because you know you are going to make mistakes. After you get going and develop some stamina and can stand a problem or two then it gets to be fun to grow the staff and company. Business Writer Debbie Blossom
Randy FoutchToday's Q&A is with the founder, chief executive and president of Tulsa-based Laredo Petroleum who is the new executive in residence at Rogers State University in Claremore. The program brings company executives into the classroom to introduce students to real-world business ideas and trends.