I was lucky enough to spend a day this week with a ninety-five year old CEO. Not an occasional one, either, but a full-time, fully energized, meet-with-customers and visit-operations-in-five-states, entrepreneurial CEO who has held his title for over 55 years.
He doesn't take the elevator. He doesn't wear glasses. He works out at least five days a week, including 30 minutes stretching and 30 minutes on the elliptical machine. He looks 70, maybe.
He built a company gym in his beautiful, four-year-old facility so that others might exercise with the same consistency as he does. He built the facility because he wants to be well positioned in an area he thinks will grow over the next decade.
He won the Legion of Merit in WW II. His reaction: "I'm the luckiest guy in the world."
I could not tell if, over his long career, he made money faster than he gave it away, or vice versa. Suffice to say he is successful and generous in equal measure.
He grew up in the Great Depression, in the Great Dustbowl, without indoor plumbing or electricity. Today he has a Blackberry and wanted a tour of my iPad, wondering how much better the iPad2 would be.
There is a sign hanging in his office, from his employees, with their goal of reaching $1billion in revenue in 2017. This CEO will be 100 then. There's a good chance they'll do it. There's an even better chance that not only will he live to see it, but he'll be around to enjoy it even if they are delayed by a year or two.
He has 95 years behind him and spends all of his time thinking about what’s in front of him.
I sure was.