If you're a young entrepreneur who has big dreams for the future, there is no better place and will be there's no better place that you can incubate your dreams and turn them into something that is growing and powerful...
Alan: Welcome back I’m here today with former Senator. Bob Bennett welcome to today’s show.
Bob: thank you
Alan: So a piece of trivia not many people know is that yours is the grandson of Heber J Grant's.
Bob: That’s correct.
Alan: He was the president of the LDS church.
Bob: That’s correct and he was one of Utah's premier entrepreneurs as was my other grandfather John F Bennett I come from good
Alan: Growing up I guess you had the entrepreneurial blood within you and starting new companies and leading companies
Bob: Well by the time I came along the companies were mature and I went to work and I had my first job when I was 14 at the Bennett Glass and Paint Company was founded by my grandfather John F Bennett. My father was running it at the time and then he stepped out of that position to run for the United States Senate.
Alan: So politics, what year was that when he entered the Senate?
Bob: He won the Senate Seat in 1950 and the moved on into that world the political world I followed them in 1992 in the campaign. But I’ve spent most of my life oscillating back and forth between the business world in the political world I held a number of positions in both.
Alan: Now right before you went into ‘92 into the political world you are running a company called the Franklin day planner?
Bob: Called Franklin Institute as it was originally founded that it became known as Franklin quest and after I left to step down as the CEO and went to the Senate why it merged with the Covey leadership Institute became known as Franklin Covey.
Alan: How did that come about that you took a roll in Franklin Institute?
Bob: it was started originally as two companies one HW Smith and Associates ,by my friend Hyrum Smith, and the other known as Franklin Institute- Hyrum and a group of other investors and one company did seminars on time management and the Franklin Institute printed day planner and Hyrum called me I was living in California time Hyrum called me and said we got this little company going and we'd like some of your advice and help as to how to do it would you come to Salt Lake in the day with this talking about it. The company that I had been president of had just been acquired in California so I little spare time I was still running it as a division of the larger parent company but they gave a little time and I said I’d like to go to Salt Lake and just look at this thing. At the end of the day when I had given them the series of recommendations as to how they should run the company, Hyrum said why don’t you just come on board as the CEO and run it yourself they had only four full-time employees of the time it was headquartered in Hyrum’s basement consider the Utah and he said to me Bob I know this sounds very very outrageous but we think we can do $1 million a year well I can run this company on my lunch hour is not a big deal in the I can do it cut of long-distance flying up from California every now and then. We did 1,000,000 1/2 that first year and then we did 3 1/2 and then we did seven and then we did 15 and it kept doubling in size. I quit my job in California along the way moved to Salt Lake and the built it up we eventually went on the New York Stock Exchange with a market cap of $300 million plus.
Alan: What a great ride that was.
Bob: Was indeed
Alan: So ’92, what gave you the inspiration to jump into the political arena in the Senate?
Bob: Well I have stepped down as the CEO of Franklin because frankly I was little bit burned out that that's very hard work entrepreneurs need to understand that this is a more than a full-time job this is a complete immersion and as I say we've gone from that little organization to the company that was poised to go public and I could see that it was launched now and I just have had the feeling of wanting to do something else so I stepped down as the CEO and did not know what I was going to do that well start a consulting practice and see what comes in over the door and the first thing that came in was Hyrum himself same fellow saying he wanted to run for the Senate and what I manage his campaign. I had managed several campaigns for my father he served in the Senate for four terms and I thought you know I know how to do that but before we do this Hyrum I said let's find out if it's doable once find out if it's possible for you to win the nomination because conventional wisdom said the Joe Cannon had it all wrapped up. He said can you figure that out? I could analyze this and it's very much like an entrepreneurial start you have to analyze the market you have to see where funding is going to come from you after you determine your message figure out what your brand is going to be how you going to attack the market and the one differences a 49% market share isn’t good enough and you have to have a 51% market share in order to be successful anyway I analyzed it said the Hyrum you can be the next senator of the state of Utah. If you want to be you can beat Joe Cannon can be beaten and I think I know how to do it and he said let's go let’s do it. I got my first client and then he came to me and said you know I thought it over and decided I don't want to do it whole series of reasons I was very disappointed because of my juices were flowing again that I was going to do this and Hyrum and some other set one or two just do-it-yourself instead of running somebody else's campaign why don't you just get into it? My first reaction was no I'm smarter than that I don't put my name on the ballot I just run the campaign for somebody else but the idea took hold of the more I thought about it the more I thought why not? Then I had an interesting experience which reviewers might find some value. I sat down with my father is he was still alive and still very lucid and he had had a very successful business career not only running the business of the inherited from his father and running businesses that he started and then he had a successful political starting from scratch the Senate was the first position either of them and so I sat down within them set up thinking about running for the Senate and he ran me through a catechism of very probing questions and they were questions about me about my motives by my capacities they were not questions about public issues at all and at the end you said I don't see that you have anything to lose why don't you try it. Those are pretty good things to say to an entrepreneur.
Alan: It speaks to the fact that you weren’t afraid to take that risk.
Alan: And so in a fast forwarding this to you spent all these years in Washington.
Bob: 18 years
Alan: 18 years, up to 2010
Alan: you were known as a fiscally conservative Republican
Alan: And you have you served on various committees over the years, so 2010 you stepped out and then went back into the…
Bob: It was a period of transition I wasn’t as clean cut or carefully analyzed as I might've liked it at a number of people come at me with a number of offers that wasn't quite sure which ones I wanted to take and I sorted through them and ended up with a heavy foot in Washington with a lot of people who wanted my skills there and one for not quite so much weight on it in Utah. The interesting thing that has happened in the year since then is that I still have 1 foot in Washington than 1 foot in Utah the center of gravity has moved more away from Washington so that the heavier foot now is coming in Utah and the interesting thing about that while most of the original people who came to me for advice and my contacts whatever help I could give on the political side now almost all of the most of the consulting work I do is on the business side. Interestingly the political side has frozen up the Congress is doing nothing the one family think the law jam.
Alan: Why do you think the logjam is happening, a lot of people sit back and say why can’t they do this. What would you say the fundamental premises of lack of moving things forward?
Bob: There a lot of reasons for the add and we could spend your whole program talk through the electorate has become more polarized than it was during my time there my time there when you work for the Democrat to solve the problem you got credit for being a problem solver. Now if you work with Democrats to solve the problem you're attacked as a traitor to your values will one of my driving values is solve problems that's why I went to them I remember when I first got there, there was a fellow who was speaking to the Republican senators of the retreat and said the duty of the opposition party is to oppose here I am a brand-new freshman senator I raised my hand and I said that’s not why I came to Washington, he says you’re republican? I say sure I’m republican but I came to Washington to legislate I’m a legislator and if I can't legislate solutions to our nation's problems strictly within the Republican Party I'm going to reach out and see if I can't find some Democrat and convince him to come over with me for a free market solution to this problem but I was able to do many times that became to say an act of betrayal to some people in the Republican Party and so they said you move along. Right now the parties that they think do not want to break away from their ideological moorings even have a conversation let alone to make a deal that will change the needs of the country are so overwhelming it has to change right now we've got this polarization and it's is digging in rather than work is about and so I'm saying if I were there now I would not be able to do the whole reason I went there for place and there are more opportunities to change society and the direction of America outside in the private sector than there are in, so I am delighted to have been placed in the private sector wasn't voluntary and I was mad for a while but as I look back on it I say in all the delegates to me a huge favor and grateful to them.
Alan: What message would you give to the youth today?
Bob: Be optimistic the optimistic one of the things that bothered me the most about the campaign that I had my final campaign in 2010 was so the number of people that came up to me with a sense of complete despair and eight they talked about what I've just described the polarization and the lack of the lack of progress in our number 1 sweet woman in Utah County and came up to me that she was she was literally trembling shoes she said I am so afraid for our country these are the worst times we have ever had in our entire history and I said would you like to live during the Civil War and she said well no we were killing each other ultimately the Civil War we killed more Americans in the Civil War that all the other wars we've thought put together kill each other that was a worse time and she said you available that's the worst in our lifetimes I said no I remember Vietnam I remember the bitterness and the division and they were shooting students on campus over the divisions in Vietnam that was a worse period in time. We have come out of these the basic spirit of America is still there and if you're sitting there saying all there's no opportunity left because Congress is dysfunctional the government to shut down governments don't they react governments react the leading comes from the economy comes from private citizens and then governments react to what is necessary to allow that kind of progress to go forward. Theodor Roosevelt didn't invent the Industrial Revolution the Industrial Revolution came and changed America and then Theodore Roosevelt kind of reinvented government to react to some of the excesses that came out of that circumstance and our postwar Ronald Reagan reacted to the realities of the Cold War and then the realities of globalization cable and we haven't yet reacted properly to all of those but we will. So if you're a young entrepreneur and a young person who has big dreams for the future, there is no better place and will be there's no better place that can incubate your dreams and turn them into something that is growing and powerful and that can make you more successful than the American economy. It's the deepest most resilient most well-integrated economy in the world and you have an opportunity here as powerful as any opportunity that anybody ever had. Seize it, go forward and make your dreams come true.
Alan: That's great about you getting hit with Bob Bennett is a former U.S. Senate but also at a great entrepreneur over life he’s served various roles that throughout his career. Bob thank you for being on today’s show.
Bob: Good to be with you
Alan: We’ll be right back after these messages.