Recently I had the privilege of meeting with Mr. Red McCombs among other members of the MPA and BBA Legacy Committee. Besides having the School of Business named after him, Mr. McCombs is a legendary entrepreneur and a generous philanthropist. I have always been fascinated to learn the reason behind the philanthropic work of many successful business people, and this was a rare opportunity to hear Mr. McCombs speak in person.
I have heard many great things about Mr. McCombs from other UT faculty and staff, and all that have been said were reinforced when we saw him. Mr. McCombs was very friendly, warm and had a great sense of humor. Before sharing his thoughts on the MPA and BBA Legacy Campaign, Mr. McCombs said he was very happy to hear that a group of current students were working on this campaign. He went on to tell us a story about his family growing up and how that tied in with the philanthropic work throughout his life. Being born in America, especially in Texas with caring parents, he had always felt very fortunate. Every week, his father brought home exactly $24.75 for the whole family; it was not at all much money, but his mom would always take $2.50 to give to their local church. His family taught him giving back was something he truly treasured and decided to continue in his life.
“If you discover the real joy of giving, you will discover the real joy of life”. It is truly inspiring to hear it from a person so successful in his career like Mr. McCombs that giving is such a big part of his life and it brings so much joy and happiness to him.
After sharing his personal story, he urged the Legacy Committee to inspire the commitment to the class among current students at McCombs. He emphasized the importance of class commitment throughout the rest of our lives. I think many of us would agree with Mr. McCombs when he shared the idea that people might part or they might stay best friends after they leave UT, but establishing the habit of giving, especially when it is towards the institution and program that brought us all together is important. He also raised a point about the “I-haven’t-made-any-money-yet” issue among many of us: the amount that each of us contributes is not important, but to get 100 percent participation rate and continue the tradition when we leave UT into the working world is critical. The next thing that Mr. McCombs said was a great surprise for all of us in the room, as he pledged to match up to $5,000 to kick off the Legacy Campaign. To have Mr. McCombs’ support as we continue to spread the word and encourage current McCombs students to give is amazing.
A few minutes before the end of the meeting with Mr. McCombs, we were able to ask him about his secret in having a work-life balance, a topic usually brought up throughout all of our careers, and his answer was straightforward and simple: Family always comes first and when you’re with your family, you have to truly be with them. He closed the meeting with a profound advice: Money itself is worthless; it is what you do with it that mattered. Therefore, to be happy, we need to choose to do something that is meaningful to us and to make a difference in our lives.
I hope that Mr. McCombs’ words would inspire many of you, as it did for me, to start making a difference during and after your time here at UT. Remember, it is never too early to start giving back. The MPA Legacy Campaign is still working towards it’s goal of 100% participation. Like Mr. McCombs said, the amount isn’t important, your participation is. Give to the MPA Legacy Campaign here.
Special thanks to Hoa “Kaylee” Nguyen for her reporting on this event!