PNW Success Forum – Napoleon Brandford – Westville Campus – 9/22/2016


PROFESSOR ANNE CHRISTO-BAKER>>Good morning everyone and welcome to
the Purdue Northwest Success Forum. This is a great occasion here today. Pardon? Yeah, see I was going to
introduce other people. I’m Doctor Anne Christo-Baker. I’m the head of the Department
of Managerial Studies in the College of Business. And I’d like to introduce today, I’m not
introducing our speaker incidentally. I’m going to introduce our moderator for
today’s session. I know her fairly well because
she’s been a student of mine. I’ve been the advisor of
a club that she belonged to. But I wanna say a few things about her. See, our moderator for this morning’s session is an extraordinary
woman who is a current student at PNW. On the Westville campus. She’s a senior. She’s majoring in, listen to this,
she’s majoring in nursing and leadership, and
minoring in human resources. So think about that. So she’s taking six classes a semester. 18 credits. Isn’t that amazing? And that’s a really
interesting combination. But if you think that’s the only
thing that she does, you’re mistaken. Outside of the classroom, I was the
advisor for the Business Leadership Club, which is an affiliate of the National
Society for Human Resource Management. And she has been our secretary
until a few days ago and now she’s the Director of Merit Awards. That is she’s going to help
us work with our chapter to earn another national merit award. We earned one last year,
we earned one the year before. You know so we keep it going and it’s
because of students like Hayley who have worked really hard with our chapter
in the College of Business. And if you think that’s
the only thing that she does, she’s also in the Marketing Club. So she’s really engaged in college or
business and I think she’s in the Student Government as well. So she does have, so, if you think you
can’t take 18 credit hours and do a lot of things outside of class,
you can. And then she does things like
this as well, so imagine that. So I am proud to say that I have
been her professor, and her advisor. And I’m really proud of her because
when I asked her, would you do this? She didn’t even hesitate. Right away she said, yes I’ll do it. And that’s the attitude she has and I hope that’s the attitude you all have
when you’re asked to do something. You say yes I will or yes I can and
I’m really proud to introduce her. So join me in welcoming Hayley Miller,
our moderator this morning.>>[APPLAUSE]
HAYLEY MILLER>>Okay. I’m going to introduce our speaker. Our speaker is Mr Napoleon Brandford,
and he is going to have a conversation with us today
about growing up in Northwest Indiana. And he is an alumni of Purdue Calumet. So let’s all give him a round of
applause for coming out today. [APPLAUSE]
So we’re first going to start by talking
about some of your high school days. We know that you grew up in East Chicago,
Indiana and went to Roosevelt High School. So tell us about some of your days there. NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>First of all, thank you very much,
I’m excited to be here. I graduated December 21st,
1974 from Purdue Calumet, and the first in my family
to graduate from college. So, it was a real big occasion, and it started a whole series of
fellow cousins going to Purdue. I think in total it’s been about six that
have all graduated from Purdue University. So this is our university. So I’m excited to be here. It was very interesting
growing up in East Chicago. East Chicago in the 60’s is
totally different what it is now. It was a middle class community,
very safe, no problems, no drugs. Kids got along with each other very well. And my whole focus at that time
was just playing basketball. I just wanted to be an athlete. I didn’t wanna do anything else in life,
but play sports. And in 8th grade, three of us decided that we were gonna win
the Indiana State Basketball Championship. And this is miraculous, because at my school we had never won
more than one game in 40 years in the Tournament. But we decided we’re gonna
win the State championship. And, lo and behold, we did win it in 1970, 69-70 season,
and we were undefeated. And what really made it unique was,
we only had one home game. All of our games were played on the road. And you guys are too young to remember, but the powerhouse team was
East Chicago Washington. Our cross town rivalries and
we had to play in their gym, but we couldn’t practice in their gym. We could only play games in their gym and
what that did was that brought the entire team together and
we’re still all very close today and quite a few of them
who are still here will be at the Hammond Campus this afternoon. And so it was a real pleasure growing
up in an environment like that. Wouldn’t trade it for
anything in the world. HAYLEY MILLER>>Did you have any mentors growing up in high school that inspired
you to go to college?>>Yeah, my mentor was really my uncle. My uncle was one of the first
black policemen in East Chicago. His name was Eli Harris, Sr.
and his grandson is Gary Harris, Jr. who starts for
the Denver Nuggets right now. But he was my inspiration, he was a Marine, during the
Korean war he came back and became a policeman. And so he was my inspiration. He traveled the world, he was just so intellectually superior to
anyone that I have met before. And so
he was the mentor in terms of my family. In terms of athletics there’s
a guy named Cazzie Russell. And he was one of the first blacks
to go to University of Michigan. And he was a first team
All Big Ten All-American. And he came and spoke to the students..
during the sectional they used to have a tournament dinner at Teibel’s on
Schererville on US 30. And so he came out for that and
he was the first athlete I ever met. And he was so tall, so good looking,
so smart and then he gave a talk. That sort of became like one
of my guiding principles and he said, think then act, and as you act,
that’s who you are and what you are. Think then act. And as you act that’s who you are and
what you are and so I use that as the guiding principal for anytime I have to make a decision I
just have to follow that principal. HAYLEY MILLER>>That’s great advice. Can you tell us about what
your highlight was going to Purdue Calumet? NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>Graduation [LAUGH]
>>[LAUGH]>>[LAUGH] But Purdue is very interesting. I took some very interesting classes and
some very interesting professors. I was a political science major. And one class I really
enjoyed was ..it was called Materialistic Political Thought. I was just fascinated by the subject. I was like, wow,
this is really incredible. And so, it was a really good subject. And the other class I
really liked a lot was Dr. Fischer taught the Philosophy
of World Religions. And so, I have to study religions
with the philosophy of all religions. And it was a heavy weight class, and
it was a good learning experience, I really enjoyed that. HAYLEY MILLER>>After you graduated, what were some
of your career decisions that you made? NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>Career decisions was where to
go to graduate school. HAYLEY MILLER>>Where did you want to go? NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>I tried a lot of different places, but I got accepted at the University
of Southern California. Because I wanted to be a Mayor or
a City Manager. That’s what I wanted to be. They had a program. Called the, a Masters Degree
in Public Administration with a Specialization in Administration
of Local Government. And to get a specialization, you had
to take a course from an acting Mayor, a current Mayor, or a City Manager. And so I took,
my first course was with Wes Uhlman. He was the Mayor of Seattle, Washington. He taught an intensive class,
eight hours, four days a week, twice. And he would come down to Los Angeles,
and he would teach the course. And one of the guest professors
was Tom Bradley, the Mayor. And the other one was
President Gerald Ford. And then I took two courses from the city
manager of Inglewood, California, and this city had just been
created, Simi Valley, and the manager of Simi Valley,
he also taught a course. And so,
that was a great learning experience. HAYLEY MILLER>>And your greatest accomplishment is
that you ended up on Wall Street correct? NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>That was an accomplishment. I think within that field,
I think my greatest accomplishment was, well, two things. The greatest accomplishment was in late 2010 when my firm was
ranked number eight on Wall Street. HAYLEY MILLER>>That’s fantastic. NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>for the Municipal Bond Industry. And no small firm had
ever done that before. And probably never again, because of the mergers, and so, that was
probably the biggest accomplishment. But my most rewarding
experience was I went head to head with Goldman Sachs, four times. I’m 4-0 against Goldman Sachs.>>[LAUGH]
>>most powerful firm on Wall Street. HAYLEY MILLER>>Do you have any advice for
students today? NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>Wow.
Well, when I started, I had a good professor at USC, and the first thing
he suggested that if you can enjoy your work, just think how much
more you’ll enjoy your free time. And so, I found that to be
a very interesting perspective. The second thing he suggested was. Well, there was a lot of things. But he encouraged me to read
a book called Self Renewal. It was written by John Gardner. John Gardner founded Common Cause,
and Self Renewal was geared more to renewing.. he thought we should
change jobs every three to five years, and that you should renew yourself
and renew organizations. That’s a great book just for
you personally, just to renew your own thoughts on how
you should proceed in your own life. And then there was one other thing I
wanted to reflect upon that he suggested, and it will come back to me about it. I forgot it for a second. HAYLEY MILLER>>That’s okay. Now, we are going to open up
the questions to the audience., and since we only have one microphone,
Regina is going to come around, and we want you to introduce yourself and
tell your major and your question. VICE CHANCELLOR REGINA D. BIDDINGS-MURO>>Questions? NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>I know what it was. VICE CHANCELLOR BIDDINGS-MURO>>Go ahead. NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>Education. And I hope I’m giving the right
credit to Edgar Allan Poe. But he said, education is what remains after you’ve forgotten
what you’ve learned. Education is what remains after
you’ve forgotten what you’ve learned. And the other thing they taught
us in the graduate school was contingency management. You should always have a plan B, regardless of what your plan A is, because
sometimes your plans don’t work out. And so, always have a B and a C,
just in case VICE CHANCELLOR BIDDINGS-MURO>>So, I’ll steal a line from
Ted Koppel when he was here last week. It’s always a lot of pressure
to ask the first question. So, we’ll just skip the first question,
go to the second question. Anybody? JASON METZ [STUDENT]>>Hello, my name is Jason Metz. I’m a marketing major here. You said that you went toe to toe
with Goldman Sachs four times. I’m not going to ask you the situation or
whatever, but having a small firm going against
someone that’s so big like that, what do you think was the key in running your
business to be as efficient to do that? NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>Well, for me, it was,
it really came out of Indiana basketball. Under the old system,
everybody played in this tournament regardless if you were a school of
5,000 or a school of 500 or 200 or 50. And so, my belief was,
I’m as good as anybody. And so, I wanted to challenge Goldman Sachs to see if I was,
in fact, to measure yourself. And what better way to measure
yourself against the best? And when I say Goldman Sachs,
in 1993, they were the number one, they were the most profitable
firm in the whole world. And in 2006, 2005. And so,
I’m not sure that answers your question. JASON METZ [STUDENT]>>So, what do you think was
the key in managing your company to be efficient to run against
someone that’s that big? What did you push your employees to do? What was your game plan? NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>First, Goldman Sachs,
they’re a big institution. And they have mostly young people
working on their accounts. Well, I hired experienced people. So, my average experience was 15 years. Their’s had been three, so, I was able to relate to
the client better than they could. And then from a marketing standpoint,
I’d be educating the client. And so, I would spend a lot of
time educating the client on why, this is not that complicated, and
why you should hire me, versus hire them. That’s how I posed it. VICE CHANCELLOR BIDDINGS-MURO>>Other questions? [AUDIENCE MEMBER]>>Yes, you said at one time you wanted
to go into government or politics. So, I wanna know what
happened with that dream? How did that work out? NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>When I graduated in January of ’78, they had a ballot measure in
California called Proposition 13. Tax rollback, and it passed June 6th,
and so I was like, wow, this is not the place to be. And so, my wife and I, we moved to Miami. I was in the intern program in Dade County,
and then within a year, they had a tax initiative,
just for the county government. But it was worded,
it was mis-worded in terms of intent. He wanted to cut taxes by 50%,
but he misplaced the millage rate, he’s cut taxes by 99.5%. So he went to the Florida Supreme Court. The [INAUDIBLE] Supreme Court. And trying to get them to put it
on the ballots as he intended, rather than the way it was worded. Well, they said no, it must go on the ballot the way
it was presented to the voters. And so it went on the ballot and 43% of the people in Dade County Florida
voted not to have government at all. I said this is the wrong
profession to be in.>>[LAUGH]
>>And so I met the first African-American investment banker at EF Hutton,
which was like a Goldman Sachs. And he became a client, and then one
day we were just having cocktails, and he was telling me he
had just gotten his bonus. And I said,
first of all I was making $25,000. His salary was $200,000. And his bonus, that night he had
showed me the check was for $250,000. [LAUGH]
>>I said, what do you have to do
to get one of these.>>[LAUGH]
>>This is what I wanna do. [LAUGH] That’s when I shifted
my whole focus to how to become an investment banker. And what would you tell them? [AUDIENCE MEMBER]>>I’m [INAUDIBLE], I’m a major in
Business, and my question is from bridging the gap between University of
Southern California to Wall Street. What did you do to intern and
all of that, your mentors and everything? Like what were the major checkpoints for
you? NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>Well I was in…
in Dade County’s intern program. You worked in five departments ten hours,
two weeks at a time, and then after that you got a chance to
choose a department of your choice. When I was at USC, the city manager at
Inglewood said you want to go work in the finance department, because of
all the money comes in and out of the finance department, not the budget
department, but the finance department. So I chose the finance department, and
when I got in the finance department The finance director started to
let me work on municipal bonds. And so, what I would do is, we had bond, the county exploded doing bond deals, and
so we would go to New York all the time, and so what they would do is, they would
try to take you out to theaters and plays and all that, but
I wanted to learn the business. And so I spent time in all the big firms teaching me how to structure bond deals,
how you sell bond deals, just the whole business, and so I spent
a lot of time just reading and studying. And there’s a book that was written that
was required reading at Goldman Sachs. and at Salomon Brothers,
called The Power Broker. Goes by Robert Caro. And it was about Robert Moses, the man
that basically built New York City, and how he used the governmental abency,
the TriBorough Bridge Authority, to do basically build in today’s
dollars, $59 billion in projects for the city of New York. And he was a very interesting character,
because he started out only wanting to do, have everything based on merit, and he became the most political person
probably in the history of America. And, but it taught you, in reading this
book, how to read between the lines, the story behind the story, and if you’re
gonna be successful, I think in business, you have to understand government,
especially in the days where, after financial crisis, power shifted
from Wall Street to Washington DC. And if you don’t understand government,
then you have a much difficult time understanding how to work your way
through the process of bureaucracy. VICE CHANCELLOR BIDDINGS-MURO>>Other questions? When I have a microphone
I’ll take advantage. I have an inside track to
understand that you’re now retired. NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>Yes. VICE CHANCELLOR BIDDINGS-MURO>>And would love to hear, what does one do in retirement
after conquering Goldman Sachs? NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>[LAUGH] The first thing you
try to do is you try to relax. I’m among the world’s greatest travellers. I have flown seven and three quarter
million miles, domestic only on business. I had 20 offices, from New York
to Ft Lauderdale, to Anchorage, Alaska, to Honolulu. And so I traveled extensively, but I would only travel three days and
two nights. I was always home on the third night. On the weekends only twice a year. I was on the board of the NCAA,
so the Final Four and the Congressional Black Caucus, and so
I have to try to figure out how to slow down and so traveling for pleasure. So this year was my 30th year with my own
firm, but first I had a real vacation, because I didn’t have any
employees I have to worry about, no partners I had to deal with,
no clients calling me, and so I spent 10 weeks in Europe and
that was a fantastic vacation. And so in retirement what I’m doing
basically are things like this. I’m on the board of Huizenga
school at Nova University, and the Dean of that school is
a Purdue graduate, Dr. Preston Jones, from Gary, Indiana, and he graduated the
same year I did, 1970 and 74 from Purdue. And I’m on the Board of
Counselors at the University of Southern California School of
Public Policy and Planning, my old school. And then I’m on the board of LA Focus, which is a gospel newspaper in
Los Angeles, I’m on that board. And so
I volunteer to just respond to young people who want advice on what
it’s like to be on Wall Street. And so, I have lunches like
every other day kinda thing, and the big thing is that
the NBA season is starting, so I watch every game that my cousin plays. [LAUGH] All 82. [LAUGH]
HAYLEY MILLER>>What’s the best place that you’ve travelled to? NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>Wow, I’d say my favorite
city in the world is London. The most romantic city is Venice. The most historically significant is Rome,
the Eternal City, ’cause it’s as old as Cairo or Jerusalem,
but as modern as Beverly Hills. As an investment banker,
the most capitalistic city is Hong Kong. Everything’s for sale in Hong Kong. [LAUGH] *Every thing* is for sale. I love Hong Kong. And one of the most fascinating
cities was Sydney, Australia. In fact I, actually liked the
cities a little bit more in the north but some of my favorite cities are cities
in the southern hemisphere. Lima, Peru. Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires. Those are some of my favorite
cities south of the Equator. HAYLEY MILLER [OFF MIKE]>>We know that you’re [INAUDIBLE] so what-
VICE CHANCELLOR BIDDINGS-MURO>>Let me get your mic back to you, dear. Let me get your mic back. HAYLEY MILLER>>We know you’re from East Chicago,
so what is your biggest change around northwest Indiana that
you see since you’ve been here last? NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>Well I [INAUDIBLE] that for
a long time because I’ve been working with the cities of East Chicago and
Gary and Hammond. In fact I was the, one of my classmates,
we brought the Steelheads back to Gary, I mean the professional basketball team. Charles Bennett was his name,
he was Isaiah Thomas’ financial adviser. And so we brought the team to Gary,
and I think it lasted five or six years, I think a little bit longer. But the biggest change is that
the economy has just, the economy and the world has transformed from being heavy
manufacturing to basically technology. And so hopefully, with Purdue leading the way
that the economy would turn around and the old manufacturing jobs
now will become high tech jobs. And industry jobs and things like that. HAYLEY MILLER>>If you were to go to college again,
would you change your major or would you keep it the same? NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>I’d have majored in finance. [LAUGH] Well Business Administration, but not Political Science. Because first of all you can’t make
any money in Political Science unless you become a PhD and
become a Political Scientist. But finance is the way to go because you
could make, the money’s attractive too, you can make as much money or
more money than professional athletes. And still remain anonymous and
still have a personal life. One of my good friends is Avery Brooks,
who attended Roosevelt. But he’s the actor who played
Star Trek Deep Space Nine, all that. [FROM THE AUDIENCE]>>Ben Sisko. NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>And what? VICE CHANCELLOR BIDDINGS-MURO>>Ben Sisko. NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>Ben Sisko, and
we’ll go to the Final Four and he can’t walk ten feet without someone
wanting his autograph, it was just crazy. And he hadn’t really been on television
that much in LIKE the last ten years. But he couldn’t go ten feet without
somebody wanting his autograph. I said man what a tough life to live
with the scrutiny on you like that. Especially in the days
where with social media. But finance, that’s what I would do. HAYLEY MILLER>>Do you have any final thoughts or advice that you would
like to share with us? NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>I just think, well for me,
in terms of your own career and your own decisions
always operate by a rule that a lot of people don’t necessarily agree with. But I would never ask for permission,
I would ask for forgiveness.>>[LAUGH]
>>All right, because most people would tell you no, and
then you can’t let people. There’s a quote, I was selected to be
in this book called Men of Courage. They took 23 young men,
African-American men, who came from humble beginnings and
made something of themselves. And my quote was, you can’t let anybody,
or anything, deter you from your dream. And so, whatever your dreams are, it’d
probably best to keep them to yourself, ’cause there’s a lot of
dream killers out here. And that you need to just
pursue them on your own. And then go for it, and
then if you get in trouble, you say I didn’t know, please forgive me.>>[LAUGH]
>>[LAUGH] HAYLEY MILLER>>And we’re gonna ask if anyone has any more questions. VICE CHANCELLOR BIDDINGS-MURO>>Yep, there is at least one,
maybe others. We’ll come right back to you. AUBRIA CLIFTON [STUDENT]>>My name’s Aubria Clifton and
I’m a business major. NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>Yes.
AUBRIA CLIFTON>>But being, I know me, myself I have a lot of
problems with time management. And so you going through college and
doing all that you did, could you give me advice
on time management? NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>Time management is something
I became a specialist in. When I graduated I was the oldest
of three boys, and I had to work. And for my 16th birthday,
I got a work permit and a job.>>[LAUGH]
>>I was the first African-American at the A&P grocery store, which would be
something like almost equivalent to today to Kroger’s or
something like that. But I was a star on the basketball team. And my mother told me
that you have to work and after work you could play basketball. And then I wasn’t necessarily
the best student. And I took a course in Spanish from
a young lady who was from Appalachia. I couldn’t understand her
English let alone her Spanish.>>[LAUGH]
>>And so I left and so the coach arranged for
me to go to school from 7:30 to 8:30 before school to
take this Spanish class. And then I went to school from 8:30 to
2:30, basketball practice started at 2:30. I went from 2:30 to 5 o’clock
basketball practice. And then I had to run seven blocks,
to be dressed, had to eat, and run seven blocks to be ready to go to
work at 5:45 in a white shirt and a apron. I worked from 5:45 to
9:15 five days a week. Ten to six on Saturdays,
ten to four on Sundays. So I learned how to manage time, so
I became a master of managing time. When I went to USC, I had to work also,
so I worked at the Pacific Telephone. I worked from 6:00 to 2:30
five days a week, and I went to school from 6:30
to 10 every night. So I really learned how to manage my time. So I went from being just
a C student in Nevada to taking 16 graduate level courses, working full time and
getting a 3.75 out of 4. Because I learned how to manage my time. And so when I started my own business,
I developed this philosophy that I became 125% man. What that meant was whatever you could do,
I could do 25% more. Just think of your absolute maximum
that you can give, I could do 25% more. And that’s how I focused my career and
it’s how I focus my time management. So I learned how to manage time and so you eliminate all
the distractions in your life. And you focus on what you need to
get done and that’s what I did. I found the more I did,
it all came together. I took political science and public administration,
the courses, they crossed over. And so I was able to figure out how to
cut back here and cut back there, and just manage my time. But you have to wanna do it. And my grandmother, one of my cousins,
he went to college and he didn’t finish his last year, in 1967. And my grandmother, she was brokenhearted that nobody
in the family had finished college. And so I promised her that
I would finish college. And she died in October 67 so I carried
that with me all the way through school. I wanted to give up or
I thought it was too much or whatever, but that was my inspiration. And so I just said whatever I have to do,
I just have to do. And as I look back on it it’s
just unbelievable, my firm. I would get to work at 5:45 in the morning
and I worked to 7 o’clock at night. And sometimes I would fly back to Chicago
get back at two in the morning, but I was in the office at 5:45. It was just you have to do this if
you’re gonna achieve your goals. And so obstacles are just
become not obstacles any more, they become stepping stones. And so managing time is just how
much you want to commit to doing it. That was always my way of looking at it. JASON METZ [STUDENT]>>Jason Metz again, marketing major. I just wanted to say it was good advice. When you said being able to move
in a bureaucratic system and stuff like that and I was wondering. The obstacles that you did come across,
in the beginning of your firm. Are there any instances that you think
back and then, you’re like, wow. I really didn’t know if it was gonna work
out then and if so, what did you do? What was your process? NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>Well, we address it because
there were no mentors. And if nobody I knew had done to try to
create an investment banking firm and go on Wall Street and do all this. And so being a student of history and
poetry, I looked to a. Poem by Langston Hughes. The title was, Life For
Me Has Not Been a Crystal Stair. And the part I remember most is walking in
the dark where there ain’t been no light. So how do you figure out to do all this? Well I was fortunate I
had a lot of mentors. My grandfather was a mentor. He was born in 1898 and
he was 54 years older than me. So I always found the oldest
person I knew and I would use them as a mentor on,
just life in general. I had two retired miliary
generals who were mentors. Because they have a unique perspective
because they have to create these battle plans to be successful. And so I would just ask them
questions about anything and then retain all of that. When I got into a situation where I didn’t
know what to do I would try to recall what I had gotten from them. And then hopefully I would
be able to figure it out. One of the things I did learn
is how to develop a question. That, I’ll tell you guys this, and this question I should charge
you a million dollars for. Because it is THE question is and
the question is, you need somebody who’s
willing to help you. You just ask them if you were me,
what would you do? And you’d be surprised
the answer that you would get. And then from that,
you asked them well can I use your name to say that
you referred me to them? And when I started investment banking
I didn’t know a soul in this business. I covered the entire country. And I became one of the most
noted investment bankers strictly by using that one question. JASON METZ [STUDENT]>>Well, follow up then. John right here, John Butener and myself. He’s the president and I’m vice president
of Marketing Club here at this campus. And it’s new since last semester. And the one thing that’s
really hard to do here is get like students involved in things
because it’s like a commuter campus. Even though we don’t want to admit it. We’re trying to change it. And if you were me how
would you get [LAUGH]>>[LAUGH]>>How would you get students to be more involved? We’re trying to come up with incentives
and things like that like free pizza, stuff like that. But that only works so much. NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>Yes, it does, yeah, marketing is tough. People don’t see the value in marketing. And The way I started off in marketing, I don’t know if you asked the question or
not. But the way I started
off in marketing was, I stripped everything from
my professional background. Which was graduate of Purdue,
graduate USC, state champ, all this. And like in the military when you get
court-martial, you get the stripes off. So I viewed myself as
a door to door salesman. And I think people have to understand
that in order to be successful, you have to be able to sell a product. You have to be able to sell
your product or yourself. And maybe focusing on them
selling themselves for their particular careers might
be a way to approach that. But I would invite
successful business people. In a forum like this
via a marketing class. And just asked them to come in, and just
say, could you tell me how did you take your business from selling 5,000 of these
widgets to 100 million of these widgets? And then that might generate interest for
the market people to come to your class, and participate. But once you participate and once you can
meet someone, in that environment, I think it will grow. But it’s the initial, First step is always the hardest step. VICE CHANCELLOR BIDDINGS-MURO>>We have time for
probably about two more questions, and so the microphone is available. Anyone else? AUDIENCE MEMBER [STUDENT]>>Hi, my name is Kevin. Double major in management and marketing. My question would be-
NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>There’s recruitment, yeah [LAUGH].>>[LAUGH]
AUDIENCE MEMBER>>Looking back at it, would you have rather worked for
a larger firm like Goldman Sachs or did you find running your
own firm more fulfilling? NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>Yes, I skipped over one spot. I went to work for
Shearson American Express. Which was an equivalent firm. It was ranked, I think number five. and Goldman was number one. it eventually became Lehman Brothers
and thank god I left Lehman Brothers
because I have friends who lost, went home friday night and lost everything
when they got to work on Monday. But my initial goal was to work for
a big Wall Street firm. When I was in Dade County,
I said man, if I could work for one of these top 20 firms
what it would be like. But once you get there it’s like
man this is like bureaucratic. This is worse than government. [LAUGH] And it’s like, man,
I don’t know if I want to do this. and working for
yourself is way more fulfilling. Also to, it’s a, my definition of risk is different
than most people’s definition of risk. The more you rely on somebody else for
your well-being, the greater risk you are for
your economic instability. And when I was at Shearson I’d
just been there six months. They walked in and laid off ten people. I was like, wow, this could have been me. And what would I do? And so I always believed I know how hard
I’m gonna work and what I’m gonna do. And I think the biggest thing we’re
missing today is entrepreneurship in America, except for the high tech people. They’ve got it right. But other people should really be in
the business of trying to start your own businesses and not rely upon
these big organizations because there’s no more working at a company and
retiring at forty years. There’s, it’s too variable. Too many mergers, too many acquisitions. And if you’re going to do that now,
you got to keep your overhead low. And, when I started, just to mention, when I started at Shearson, I was
making like $60,000 plus a $15,000 bonus. When I started my firm I
went to $3,000 a month! With no guarantee. And so if I had bought a bigger home or
a car or something like that at an early age,
I never could’ve started my own firm. So I kept my expenses low so
that I could live within my means. This was like a college student almost. And then I was able to invest and
put aside reserves and grow my own firm. VICE CHANCELLOR BIDDINGS-MURO>>One more? Well, I have the microphone, so
I will take the privilege for sure. You’ve talked to us about
your work philosophy, dedication and how you’re trying to find relaxing as this world traveler,
we are, you’re here on September 22nd, I don’t know exactly how many days
it is to the general election. But I know that you’re a political
science and a business major, and I’m glad to ask,
this is the last question, any thoughts from a global perspective
about the state of politics right now? NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>Well I refer back to when
I went to Goldman Sachs. 1980 I went to Goldman Sachs. I think they were at 55 Broad or 55 Water. There’s times where they were at one or
the others. There was a presidential
election that year. a change election. Ronald Reagan, 1980,
Reagan was running against Bob Dole. And [TED] Kennedy was running
against Jimmy Carter. And Goldman Sachs was doing a fundraiser
on the 55th floor, for Bob Dole, Republican. And on the 56th floor, they were doing
one at the same time for Ted Kennedy. And so
I decided I’m gonna be like Goldman Sachs. I gonna support the winner,
no matter who wins. And so technically, in my own mind, I’m a Harold Washington
Democrat, just an independent Democrat. But if you go to Ohio,
they think I’m a Republican because I was very close to
the city treasurer who was the, he’s the guy that oversee the whole thing about
the kid being killed and all that. If you go to Texas,
George Bush made me an honorary Texan. and in California,
Jerry Brown is my guy or Willie Brown so I’m whatever
it takes to be successful. And I would suggest you support both sides ’cause the world right now is
split right down the middle. It’s not just in America,
when I was over in Europe, Brexit, Austria they just had a recount in their election And Sydney, they take three weeks to decide. And Spain, they can’t decide right now. For a year, it’s been going on. with any form of government. And so, the whole world is split
right down the middle. So this election right here It’s very interesting, I know both of them. I was fortunate to have a client base with
the 50 largest metropolitan areas and 22 largest states. Virtually every politician that’s
been elected in the last 30 years, I know them all. I’ve worked with them all. I’ve given them contributions. It will best be interesting
to see what happens. I first met Donald Trump at
a Harold Washington Fund Raiser at the Rockefeller Center in 1986. He came to that event. My partner, my first partner,
he was from Hope, Arkansas. And used to like to say
Bill Clinton was his homie. [LAUGH] And so I know both sides of the
aisle and so we’ll just have to see but it’ll be, it’ll be surprising
to see what happens and so. I don’t have any predictions but after
the Brexit vote, you just don’t know. There’s a current, there’s an undercurrent
of dissatisfaction with the process as it stands and a lot of things
compounding that, and we’ll just see. I have no predictions. The interesting thing about the Brexit
vote that surprised people is that in London. in the U.K.,
they actually placed bets on the election. And 99% of the time they’ve been right. Except for this time. Everybody predicted that Brexit
would fail, but it passed. So we have a similar type situation here. So we’ll just see. But I encourage you to support both
people, or both parties, or all three parties, because when you go into business
you’ve got to deal with everyone. And you don’t want to be
cut out of business, and that’s what I learned from Goldman Sachs. And so, I just took their philosophy and
used it against them. VICE CHANCELLOR BIDDINGS-MURO>>So let’s hear for it Mr.
Napoleon Brandford.>>[APPLAUSE]
>>So before we close, I want to acknowledge the committee
members who worked with me and I want to thank them publicly. If you would stand Dr. Henry Williams, Dr.
Lori Feldman, Ed Furticella and Dr. Anne Christo-Baker, these folks have worked for
a number of months to plan for Mr. Brandford’s visit to Purdue Northwest on
both of our campuses and with you in mind. This was all about giving you
an opportunity to meet someone who may not have known. So I’m gonna hand it over to Anne and
Hayley. And they’re gonna close us out. DR. ANNE CHRISTO-BAKER>>Okay, thank you. NAPOLEON BRANDFORD>>I think I want to say one more thing. If you look for a major company,
the people that make the most money.>>Yeah.>>Are the marketing people.>>So you marketing people to join this club,
you’re going to get paid. [LAUGH]
HAYLEY MILLER>>So, we just wanna thank everyone for coming today and we want to thank Mr.
Brandford for his time and let’s give him a round of applause.>>[APPLAUSE]
>>And we are having the same event. It’s different topics at
the Purdue Northwest campus in Hammond. And that is at 3 o’clock in Alumni Hall. So Dr. Christo-Baker is going to close us out. Thank you everybody. DR. ANNE CHRISTO-BAKER>>Okay, thank you. I just wanna say this has
been really inspiring. Thank you very much Mr. Brandford. Remember, this is our Success Forum. And the theme here was Build Your Brand,
Live Your Mission. And we thank you for sharing with us how
you build your brand and how you live your mission and how to be successful,
because it takes a lot of hard work. You don’t just get up overnight and
you’re successful. So I hope everyone has
taken away something from here that they can apply to their
lives to help them to be successful. For me,
he said there’s this book Men of Courage. So I would say here, people of courage. Men and women of courage, it takes
courage to succeed and to be successful. So I hope that you all continue to pursue
your dreams here at Purdue Northwest. So don’t think that,
I’m just going to Purdue Northwest. See what Purdue Northwest can produce. So thank you very much, Mr. Brandford,
and thank you very much, Hayley, for this. Please stay for refreshments afterwards. We have some refreshments. And if you want to interact more with Mr.
Brandford, you can just join us at, pardon, yes, we’ll stay in the room. So you can interact with
him a little bit more. And if you want even more,
you can go to the Hammond Campus, and he’ll be there this afternoon. So thank you all Join me with, lets give him a rousing round
of applause as we close. Thank you.
>>[APPLAUSE]>>All right, thank you.

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