Before there was Oprah there was Reginald F. Lewis. So who is Reginald F. Lewis? Wall Street lawyer and financier who in 1987, achieved what many thought was an impossible feat. At that time, “the billion-dollar LBO (leveraged buyout) of Beatrice International Foods was the largest offshore leveraged buyout ever pulled off.” Retold in a semi-autobiographical format, Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun? – How Reginald Lewis Created a Billion-Dollar Business Empire by Reginald F. Lewis and Blair S. Walker.
Born and raised in East Baltimore, Maryland, the seeds of success were planted at an early age. Educated in the Baltimore public school system, he was a bright student, star quarterback in high school, and football scholarship recipient to Virginia State University in Richmond, Virginia. “He always had an agenda, a sense of purpose and direction,” which served him well in both the legal and business worlds.
In his junior year of college he was chosen to participate in a new summer program at Harvard University that was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation to “acquaint black college students with legal study.” As a result of his experience he ended up being “the only person in the [148 year] history of Harvard Law School who was admitted before he applied.” Reginald F. Lewis eventually started his own law practice Lewis & Clarkson and specialized in venture capital interests. This provided the foundation for TLC (The Lewis Company) acquisition of McCall Pattern Company; which resulted in a 90-1 gain and doubled McCall’s income for the next two years and earned 12 and 14 million respectively. This set the stage for the billion-dollar Beatrice acquisition. This book lays out in detail the what, when, where, how, and why, it is essentially a manual for others to follow.
THOUGHTS for your SOUL:
- “In 1965, the highest ranking black faculty member at Harvard University was the assistant reference librarian.”
- “Colors and labels have a way categorizing people and creating artificial constraints around people and the way they think about themselves.”
- “Take a global perspective, don’t neglect international studies, train your students to learn about international law, international business and tax.”
This is not a story about an African-American man, but rather a story about a man who against all odds lived the adage “luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.”- Seneca. Most people want to leave a legacy of some sort, something that said “I was here.” Mr. Lewis died from a massive cerebral hemorrhage brought on by the cancerous tumor on his brain at the age of 50 in 1993. Here are a some of his legacies:
- The Chairman and CEO of TLC Beatrice Corporation.
- The Lewis International Law Center on the grounds of Harvard University.
- The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African-American History and Culture in Baltimore, Maryland.
- The Reginald F. Lewis High School of Business Law in Baltimore, Maryland.
His accomplishments are an example of a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Driven by desire and determination, he wanted to compete and win, irrespective of race. He loved the game, did the work, took the risks and eventually won! Reginald F. Lewis exceeded everyone’s expectations except his own.
Let’s BOND over BOOKS rates Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun? as CHALLENGINGLY CHARISMATIC (300-500 pgs). …borderline lengthy – “it better have a good ending!”
Permission granted from Black Classic Press.