Welcome to the Biography & Archive of T. BOONE PICKENS
The breadth of T. Boone Pickens' career is staggering. He built one of the largest independent oil company in the United States and flourished as an entrepreneur after leaving it, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in the process. Among his lengthy accolades, Financial World named him CEO of the Decade in 1989 and the Oil and Gas Investor listed him as one of the "100 Most Influential People of the Petroleum Century.
“The thing you have to understand about Boone is that it’s all about action,” longtime associate Bobby Stillwell told Grant’s Interest Rate Observer in 2004. “There’s no sitting around.”
Pickens is afflicted with the inherent restlessness that drives most entrepreneurs. That restlessness manifested itself early in his life. While he was still a teen, the Holdenville, Oklahoma, native expanded his newspaper route sales by acquiring surrounding routes one by one.
Traditional corporate life chafed Pickens. The Oklahoma State University graduate left his first adult employer, Phillips Petroleum, and started what would become Mesa Petroleum with $2,500 and a healthy dose of moxey. He built his company into an independent powerhouse that challenged and changed the good-old-boy corporate culture in America.
During this time, his face appeared regularly on every significant business publication in America. He put a spotlight on the rights of the true owners of American businesses, its shareholders. He pounded on the doors of Japanese boardrooms, demanding that American investors have the same access to Japan and other foreign markets as foreign investors have in the United States. When at 68 he left the independent oil company he had nurtured for forty years, he reinvented himself, built a new, highly successful company, and made more money than he ever had before.
During the span of his career, Pickens has made hundreds of millions of dollars— for others as well as himself — and he isn't timid about spreading it around. "I like making money. I like giving it away," he has often said. The breadth of his philanthropy — almost $1 billion — includes medical research, athletics, and academic projects. In 2006, his charitable activities, which included $175 million and the establishment of the T. Boone Pickens Foundation, placed him on the Chronicle of Philanthropy's list of top U.S. philanthropists for the second straight year. His Foundation is focused on improving lives through grants supporting educational programs, health and medical research and services, athletics and corporate wellness, the entrepreneurial process, at-risk youth, and conservation and wildlife initiatives.
“Entrepreneurs search for — and create — value,” Pickens wrote in Boone Pickens: the Luckiest Guy in the World. “That underlying value is what my life is all about — whether the focus is the energy business or some other endeavor. Today, we enjoy a robust economy and significant shareholders’ say in the companies they own. Takeovers, solicited or otherwise, have become an accepted business practice; today, the Business Roundtable does not attack the acquirers, win or lose. Countless gambles played a part in bringing that combination together. Our role in the journey was worth the risks.”
His life, stunning achievements and stinging losses alike, is chock full of lessons, most of which he has readily shared over the years. His impact on American culture reflects his many interests and passions, including his unyielding belief in the entrepreneurial spirit, his leadership in corporate fitness, the need for alternative fuel development, and his prudent stewardship of American lands. Pickens, a proud alum of OSU (it was operating as Oklahoma A&M when he graduated), has donated the gist of his professional papers to his alma mater.