Private Equity Investor and Wildlife Photographer Robert Haas Delivers Leaders Forum Lecture on Navigating Life in Financial Sector
Robert B. Haas YC í69, the chairman and founder of Haas Wheat & Partners, a Dallas-based private investment firm, earned his reputation making lucrative deals, such as ones for Dr. Pepper and Seven-Up that have become case studies in business schools. But since 2002, he has become a successful wildlife photographer, traveling around the world, authoring seven books, and having his work published in National Geographic, Time, and Forbes. On Nov. 17 Haas spoke at Yale SOM as part of the Leaders Forum lecture series. "Thereís no excuse for anyone with talent in this room to not dream big," he told the group. "You go a lot further if your dream is a distant dream."
Haas detailed to the audience the dual Dr. Pepper and Seven-Up deals, which took place nearly simultaneously in the late-80s and netted his company several hundred million dollars. In both cases, he helped engineer quick turnarounds on the deals, improving the management and finding suitable new owners. While he and his partners worked hard to ensure that their investments were prudent, he acknowledged that in his business luck plays an important role in success. "Whenever you find the luck store," he said, "buy as much as you can."
While the two halves of his career might strike some as incongruous, Haas stressed that he couldnít have one without the other. His success in business allowed him to pursue photography as more than a hobby, while his creative side helped him become a better businessman. Even for those with no interest in seriously pursuing the arts, Haas stressed that itís crucial for all to find a forum where they can work on their creative sides. "Do something for which there is no immediate reward except the pleasure in doing something," he said.