Even before I knew much about T. Boone Pickens, I loved his name. Has there ever been a better name for an oil man than T. Boone Pickens? It’s just right as rain. And the man behind the name was so perfect for it that it disproved Shakespeare’s claim that any other name would work as well. I loved to hear him talk because his Southwestern dialect so perfectly underscored and certified his folk wisdom and humor. He was a chairman of the board with true blue-collar cred. The title of his last book showed he was beautifully grounded in both worlds: “The First Billion is the Hardest.”
Boone, as many called him, was an Oklahoman and a Texan. When asked which he was, he said, “both.” He straddled both states like a giant derrick – raised in both, drilled in both – and both benefited from the hundreds of millions he gave through his philanthropy, from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, to UT Southwestern Medical Center, and to Oklahoma State University, among others.
Boone Pickens would have certainly died a multi-billionaire had he not given away the majority of his fortune, and he loved giving it away. He said, “Giving away money wasn’t as fun as making it, but it was a close second.”
When he died, he left behind a poignant letter for his social media followers. It contains his humor, his wisdom and inspiring advice for life. I’ll share some of it. He said:
If you are reading this, I have passed on from this world — not as big a deal for you as it was for me.
In my final months, I came to the sad reality that my life really did have a fourth quarter and the clock really would run out on me. I took the time to convey some thoughts that reflect back on my rich and full life.
I was able to amass 1.9 million Linkedin followers. On Twitter, more than 145,000 (thanks, Drake). This is my goodbye to each of you.
You can find more of T. Boone Pickens’ parting words on his web site.
I’ll end with Boone’s most famous bit of advice, not included in his letter:
“Every day you should work eight hours and sleep eight hours. Make sure they’re not the same eight hours.” Now let’s do what Boone would do – get on back to work.