Michael Levitt talks with|
students following Dean's
Think About the People Who Work for You, Levitt Advises
Stone Tower Capital chairman shares life lessons at Michigan Business School Dean¿s Seminar.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. "The first thing in the morning, after I walk the dogs and work out, I think 'What are my people working on?' The most important thing to do is to think about the people who work for you. Are they engaged, active, working hard, occupied, busy? No one has ever quit," Michael J. Levitt, BBA '80, told Michigan Business School students at a Dean¿s Seminar in March.
Levitt, who worked as an attorney, investment banker and investor before becoming an entrepreneur, shared the principles that have guided his career: hard work, focus, relationships, serendipity, building businesses, having fun, and balancing business and personal life.
In addition to being chairman of Stone Tower Capital LLC, with over $500 million in managed assets, Levitt has been a member of the board of directors of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Metro New York for eight years and chairs the advisory board of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America. He also is on the board of the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund Inc. and a director of IDT Corporation. At Michigan, Levitt serves on the Business School's Corporate Advisory Board and on the University's Investment Advisory Board.
"It's important that your job be engaging. Pick a career you find interesting and fascinating," he advised. As an attorney, Levitt found that with "endless hours" of work he and co-workers "established a reputation" and gained "valuable, transferable experience" as counsel to KKR, Ted Turner, Drexel and cable television clients.
As an investment banker, Levitt found "better but still endless hours" at Morgan Stanley and later Smith Barney. Clients included Viacom CEO Sumner M. Redstone, Citigroup Chairman Sanford Weill and Saudi Prince al-Waleed.
In his investment career, Levitt became a principal rather than an agent, with more control, which was "a big difference." Together, Levitt and his colleagues helped build businesses, as at Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, where they brought in profits of $800 million on investments of $250 million.
As an entrepreneur and sole owner of his company, Levitt brings yet a different perspective to business: "What are the returns, not what are the fees?" He concluded, "Relationships are portable. If you have good relationships, opportunities will present themselves. Work hard and enjoy."
For more information, contact:
Mary Jo Frank