John Hickenlooper
best advice john hickenlooper

Governor of Colorado

My mom was twice widowed and raised four kids by herself. She was relentlessly frugal and sewed everything herself. She would wash tinfoil and Saran Wrap and tape it to the refrigerator door so she could reuse it. She was very competitive, and frequently told us, "You can't always control what happens to you in a game or in life, but you can control how you respond -- you should never quit."

After I got laid off as a geologist in 1986 -- the last really big recession -- I was out of work for almost 30 months. That combination of persistence and frugality really had a lot to do with picking myself back up and trying to start a brewpub. There were a couple of times when we just about quit because we couldn't raise the money, and, ironically, my own mother wouldn't invest. She'd say, "Who wants to have dinner in a brewpub?" I felt like I'd talked to every potential investor, and we'd been turned down by 32 banks, but her advice forced me to go to that one more bank. It forced me to go to that one friend of a friend, that next potential investor. We finally got open, signed a lease in 1987. Back then the rent was $1 per square foot per year. We did everything but the plumbing and electricity ourselves and got open in the end of 1988. By keeping our costs down -- we bought all used restaurant equipment and furniture -- we created a culture within our business. And that restaurant really took off, and we opened brewpubs in about 15 other places, in historic downtowns all over the country. That kind of combined culture of persistence and frugality really helped create a miniature empire.

  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated October 25 2012 07:21 AM ET
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