The Bill Walton Story

Bill WaltonCulture, Economics, Education, Entertainment, Entrepreneurship, Investing, Policy, Politics, Self Help

It is interesting being the host of a production such as Common Ground. It is even more interesting to be a guest.

Recently, my friend, the economist and writer John Tamny, turned the tables and interviewed me. And as I look back over the conversation and about the lifetime of experiences we discussed, I can’t help but think how much business and investment success comes down to having the right people around you and being able to identify who they are.

When I was young, I was the investment advisor to William Paley, the president of CBS. His family had been in the cigar business, but he was not cut out for it. So he learned about this new technology radio, built the first network of stations and morphed it into a communications giant when TV came along.

He was charming, tough, a showman and smart with money – a rare combination of talent in one person.

At Lehman Brothers Kuhn Loeb, I worked with, as John pointed out, some of the best investment bankers ever – Pete Peterson, Tom Hill, Steve Schwarzman. I spent the late 1980s at Butler Capital, a private equity firm run by Gil Butler, who is an investment genius.

We are concerned about the effect technology will have on our future. We already see it displacing all manner of jobs – from behind-the-counter personnel at McDonald’s to investment professionals on Wall Street.

What will come next? Nobody knows. But when I think of the enormously talented people I have come across and the incredible appetite for new products, new approaches, I can’t help but be hopeful. We can’t imagine what will come next, just as we couldn’t imagine the advances that have brought us to this point. But chances are the advances will keep coming if the principles that gave us our present level of prosperity are honored.

And this is what Common Ground is about. It’s not about reaching some middle-of-the-road compromise with the political left. It is about elevating the principles we all operate or should operate under. It is about rehabilitating the reputation of the capitalist, reinforcing the role growth and economic prosperity can play in our future and rejuvenating an American economy shackled by regulations promulgated by bureaucratic generals fighting the last war.

It’s long-form podcast journalism, and the story is always how to promote human flourishing. It’s not an easy job, but the people I’ve encountered, the experiences I’ve had, the friends, such as John, I’ve made along the way are sure to help my chances of success.