Legendary Outdoor Advertising Pioneer Karl Eller Reveals His Secrets to a Successful Entrepreneurial Life in New Book, Integrity is All You've Got
Part Memoir, Part Entrepreneurship Handbook, Karl Eller Shares His Perspective On Business And Success
"The lessons of an entrepreneurial life have been the foundation for the entrepreneurship program Karl founded at the Eller College over 20 years ago. His desire to help others benefit from his insight and experiences through this captivating book extends his contribution to an even broader community and will be a lasting legacy."
— Kenneth R. Smith, Dean, Eller College of Management, The University of Arizona
“I give this book an unqualified Yes! Billboards don't come big enough to shout how good I feel about it . . . or, how good you'll feel about yourself when you put Karl Eller's advice to work for you.”
— Harvey Mackay, author of the #1 NY Times bestseller Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive
From riding high as founder of Eller Outdoor Advertising and then head of Clear Channel Communications Outdoor Division to facing personal bankruptcy, Karl Eller has learned what it takes to survive in business. He’s always finished on top and credits integrity as the ultimate key to his success. Today he is Chairman and CEO of The Eller Company in Phoenix. He is also a major supporter of business and entrepreneurship programs and has donated millions of dollars to The University of Arizona to fund their efforts in this area.
Part memoir, part success guide, Eller’s INTEGRITY IS ALL YOU’VE GOT: And Seven Other Lessons of The Entrepreneurial Life, offers invaluable advice for budding entrepreneurs as well as all businesspeople who want to get ahead. Eller explains that his book “is about the chills, thrills, deals, risks, gambles, crash landings, and miraculous recoveries that are the essence of business in general, and entrepreneurship in particular. More than that, it is about the lessons I have learned along the way. . .”
Eller candidly describes the eight lessons he believes are most important:
Profit From Failure – Taking risks means that inevitably there will be failure. From selling candy on the honor system (in the end, nobody paid!), to getting squeezed out of Gannett, to the bankruptcy of the Circle K convenience-store chain which forced him to resign as chairman and CEO, Eller explains what happened in each situation. He explores where he went wrong, the professional and personal consequences and, in retrospect, what could have been done differently in each situation. Failure is a valuable lesson.
Love Selling, And Sell What You Love – Eller loves selling outdoor advertising and has made millions doing so. He shares his enthusiasm and encourages readers to perfect their selling skills. As he says, “Businesspeople are always selling something – business plans, products, even themselves . . . Those who succeed usually love doing it.” The moral is that selling is a basic business skill. If you dread selling, you need to overcome this fear.
Creativity Is Seeing What Others Don’t – Eller believes that creativity can solve almost any problem. Morton’s Salt was having trouble getting more shelf space in Chinatown. Eller’s solution was to hang the salt packages on strings suspended from little umbrellas attached to the store ceiling. The solution was a winner and sales soared. Creativity belongs in business, and the parameters of creativity are endless.
In A Good Deal, Everyone Wins – Negotiating is the heart of dealmaking, but knowing what motivates the others at the table is the key to success. Eller presents a behind-the-scenes look at several major deals he was involved in: the sale of Combined Communications to Gannett; the deal to purchase Pacific & Southern Broadcasting; his purchase of The Oakland Tribune; and several other major negotiations. He believes that the art of the deal is more than just the bottom line – it’s about integrity, trust, and perseverance.
Integrity Is All You’ve Got – Eller believes integrity is so important in business that he named the book for this chapter. “Without trust, business would cease, as indeed it does whenever trust breaks down,” he writes. He believes that integrity allowed him to survive all his failures, and shares stories from his entire life that prove his point. As he says, “Honesty is a businessperson’s most important asset. I’m not sure if nice guys always finish first, but I know that honest ones do, mainly because honesty creates trust . . . And what makes honesty and trust possible is practice, unfailing repetition, also known as integrity – the ability to stay true to yourself without compromising your values.”
Opportunity Is For Optimists – From his days as a college football player to his first business negotiation when he had less than one percent of the money needed to close the deal, Eller shows how optimism is an entrepreneur’s best friend. When the Highway Beautification Act was signed into law in 1965, many viewed that as the death of the outdoor billboard advertising industry. But not Eller. He determined the industry wasn’t dead, just limited, and found a way to succeed – while others went out of business.
Connections Make Your Business – Karl Eller is the ultimate networker, though he admits that the famous names in his Rolodex are people he knew long before they were famous – Frank Borman, Donald Rumsfeld, the late President Ronald Reagan. Many of these relationships were based on business deals and trust. He explains why being active in business organizations such as Young President’s Organization (YPO) and it’s senior offshoot, CEO, is invaluable, and discusses the pros and cons of serving on corporate boards.
The More You Give, The Richer You Are – Eller advocates philanthropy and contributing to the community. He explains why philanthropy is good for business and why it’s good for the soul. But also why it’s important to share – which is the reason he decided to share his experiences, both good and bad, with others who have the entrepreneurial spirit.
As a bonus, the appendix of INTEGRITY IS ALL YOU’VE GOT features questions that Eller is often asked. In this section, he uses examples from other businesses to illustrate his answers, from the success of Kinko’s and Ben and Jerry’s to disaster at Intel, which makes INTEGRITY IS ALL YOU’VE GOT a complete and unique handbook for those who strive for entrepreneurial greatness.
About the Author
Karl Eller is Chairman and CEO of The Eller Company of Phoenix, Arizona. During the course of his career, he has been the CEO of Eller Outdoor Advertising, Columbia Pictures Communications, Circle K Corporation, Clear Channel Communications Outdoor Division, and Combined Communications Corporation. He is the founder of the Western Hockey League Roadrunners and the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, and was instrumental in bringing an NFL team to Phoenix. In 1983, he established and funded the Karl Eller Center for the Study of Private Market Economy at The University of Arizona. In 1987 the University named its MBA School for Eller and in 1999 the University renamed its business college the Eller College of Business and Public Administration, which is now called the Eller College of Management. In 2004, Karl Eller was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame. He and his wife live in Phoenix.
The Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona is internationally recognized for pioneering research, innovative curriculum, distinguished faculty, excellence in management information systems, entrepreneurship, and social responsibility. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller undergraduate program #14 among public business schools and three of its programs are among the top 20 — Entrepreneurship, MIS, and Management. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller MBA Full-Time program #44 in the U.S. and #21 among public business schools. The College leads the nation’s business schools in generating grant funds for research. In addition to a Full-Time MBA program, the Eller College offers an Evening MBA program and the Eller Executive MBA. The Eller College of Management supports approximately 5,700 undergraduate and 700 graduate students on the UA campus in beautiful Tucson, Arizona.
Liz Warren-Pederson, Eller College of Management
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