Thomas Boone Pickens, Jr. / 1928–2019 / Oklahoma, USA / Geologist, Wildcatter, Entrepreneur, Financier, Founder and Chairman of BP Capital Management
Don’t fall victim to the notion that you have to be a high-priced talent to succeed. That simply isn’t true. You can make yourself into a first-rate talent, whatever your chosen field, by hard work and experience.Twitter post, June 26, 2014.
A plan without action is not a plan. It’s a speech.Speech, National Press Club, 2008; repeated in T. Boone Pickens, The First Billion is the Hardest: Reflections on a Life of Comebacks and America’s Energy (2008), and in an interview with Piers Morgan, CNN, October 20, 2011.
A fool with a plan can outsmart a genius with no plan any day.Reported in New York Times Magazine, August 3, 2008.
Don’t fall victim to what I call the ready-aim-aim-aim-aim syndrome. You must be willing to fire.Speech, Rotary Club of Dallas,1996; reported by Steve Coll in “The Oracle of Oil,” The New Yorker, October 16, 2006.
Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader.Reported by Katie Couric, “The Best Advice I Ever Got,” Time magazine, January 7, 2013.
When you are hunting elephants, don’t get distracted chasing rabbits.Reported in “Boone Pickens’ 10 Best Quotes,” Forbes magazine, September 12, 2011.
In business, you either have a competitive advantage or you don’t. The question is whether you have one that is sustainable.T. Boone Pickens, Jr., Boone (1987).
If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not taking risks, and that means you’re not going anywhere.Interview with CNBC, May 2, 2012.
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
Q: What is this going to do to BP [British Petroleum]? Do they go out of business?
A: No. They’re not going to go out of business. I mean, they are the largest oil producer in the United States. 700,000 barrels a day and 2.5 billion cubic feet of gas a day is what they produce in the United States. So, those assets alone, not counting their marketing and refining, are worth probably $150 billion.Interview with Larry King, CNN, July 19, 2010; transcript accessible at cnn.com.
Q: What’s the danger of other spills?
A: You know, this is the first one in 50 years. And, you know, not to be repetitious, but it has been awhile. But, you know, two pilots qualified, crashed an airliner. You can sure have pilot error and sometimes you do have. You don’t quit—you don’t shut down the airlines for that. So here, they should go back to drilling.Interview with Larry King, CNN, July 19, 2010; transcript accessible at cnn.com.
Q: Does the federal government owe something?
A: No, I don’t see the federal government is not—I think they were slow getting the skimmers in there. And that part, they were slow making some decisions, but I don’t think the government owes anybody anything.Interview with Larry King, CNN, July 19, 2010; transcript accessible at cnn.com.
Q: Did we refuse help from other countries?
A: I think we did.
Q: Was that a mistake?
Q: Why do you think we would refuse someone—
A: I don’t know. I don’t understand it. We should have taken the help.Interview with Larry King, CNN, July 19, 2010; transcript accessible at cnn.com.
Q: How much headway have you made there?
A: Good. I mean, we’ve made good progress. And I think we’ll have an energy plan for America before the year is out, and that will be the first energy plan America has ever had in 40 years. I think that will happen.Interview with Larry King, CNN, July 19, 2010; transcript accessible at cnn.com.
Q: Why does the Pickens plan only call for reducing dependence on foreign oil?
A: Well, I really—it’s even narrower than that. I want to get off the Mid East oil. I want to get off OPEC oil, because I think it’s a security issue for the country. But you know, it’s exactly what the president said. When he got the nomination at Denver in July of 2008, on energy, he said in ten years, we will not import any oil from the Mid East. And I cheered him for that when he said it. And that’s the oil we have to get off of first.Interview with Larry King, CNN, July 19, 2010; transcript accessible at cnn.com.
Q: And natural gas is still your big thing, right?
A: Well, you got 4,000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the United States. And it’s 30 percent cleaner than oil. It’s cheaper. It sells for 25 percent of the cost of oil—
Q: Seems logical.
A: It sure does. You’d look like an idiot if we don’t do it.Interview with Larry King, CNN, July 19, 2010; transcript accessible at cnn.com.
Pickens on Pickens
The first billion is the hardest.Interview with Fortune magazine, June 12, 2008; repeated in interview with Forbes magazine, September 8, 2008.
The older you get, the more it’s not about what you’ve accomplished, but what you can accomplish.Interview with CNBC, October 27, 2017.
The older I get, the more convinced I am that the only way to become a billionaire is to help a billion people.Twitter post, January 21, 2015.
The older I get, the more convinced I am that the only way to reach your potential is to help others reach theirs.T. Boone Pickens, The First Billion Is the Hardest: Reflections on a Life of Comebacks and America’s Energy (2008).
The older I get, the more convinced I am that the only way to become a better investor is to invest in yourself.Twitter post, September 22, 2013.
I never made a mistake in my life. I thought I did once, but I was wrong.Twitter post, November 20, 2017.
The people who invest with me are not looking for safety. They’re looking for a big return.Reported in the New York Times, July 30, 2007.
In any investment, you expect to have fun and make money.Reported in USA Today, September 14, 2018.
The older I get, the more convinced I am that the only way to get ahead in this world is to be proactive, not reactive.T. Boone Pickens, The First Billion Is the Hardest: Reflections on a Life of Comebacks and America’s Energy (2008).
Q: Could you retire?
A: No. I owe too much money. Thanks.Interview with Larry King, CNN, July 19, 2010; transcript accessible at cnn.com.
Q: When can a car go on natural gas?
A: You can get cars now—if [the caller] lived in Paris, France, he could go shopping tonight for a passenger car and look at 40 to 45 cars that are on natural gas. BMWs, Mercedes, GM, Ford, all of them are made there. GM makes 18 and makes none in the United States.
A: Because they haven’t had a market for it. If there had been a market, GM would have made them.Interview with Larry King, CNN, July 19, 2010; transcript accessible at cnn.com.
Q: [The caller] couldn’t convert his car to [natural gas]?
A: I don’t advise that. But if—what I’m after are the big users of diesel. And those are the 18-wheelers. There are 8 million of them. If I could get those 8 million on natural gas, I could cut OPEC in half. So, that’s what I’m after. What I want the president to do, two things. One, I want him to tell us that he remembers very well what he said about OPEC—Mid East oil, no Mid East oil in ten years. His first step would be all federal vehicles that are—that we buy, the federal government does, would be by federal order, would be on our resources. They could be on battery, hybrid, natural gas, butane, propane, ethanol. I don’t care. Just so it’s American.
The second thing I’d like for him to do is to go to the American people and say this has nothing to do with politics. It’s all about us, all Americans. In the next eight years, two of these ten years have gone, so he has eight years to make good on this. He has to put it in place. He isn’t going to be here in eight years. But he’s got to put it in place for it to happen. I think the American people would rise to the occasion and love every minute of it. They would—what he would tell them is you have to be on natural resource — our resources in the United States. Make your pick. We don’t care. But just be on American resources in eight years.Interview with Larry King, CNN, July 19, 2010; transcript accessible at cnn.com.