Bobby Tudor | Crain's Dallas

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Bobby Tudor

Background:  

Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. is an energy-centric investment and merchant bank in Houston that’s recognized for its industry-leading stock research, dealmaking advice and asset management. It has more than 180 employees in five offices in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Onetime Goldman Sachs investment banker Bobby Tudor founded it in 2007 with former Simmons & Co. International research chief Dan Pickering when they combined their firms, Tudor Capital and Pickering Energy Partners. Tudor’s former Goldman colleague Maynard Holt joined soon after, getting his name on the door. Last year the firm merged with New York investment bank Perella Weinberg Partners, where Tudor serves as partner and co-head of its investment banking business. Tudor is currently chair of the board of trustees for Rice University, where he received a bachelor of arts degree in English and legal studies in 1982 and was team captain of the basketball team.

The Mistake:

Being too quick to hire. Your early hires are so critical to what kind of quick traction you get in business. On the whole, I did pretty well in that regard. I got lucky. But I made a couple of mistakes.

In one case, it was a bad cultural fit, and culture really matters in our business. In another, they couldn’t deliver what I needed them to deliver relationship-wise, which is really key in our business. But I was hiring because I felt like I had to fill a need.

Someone once told me that if you can get three out of five things right on hiring, you’re doing really well. That may be true over the lifetime of a business, but in the early days, you better get four out of five of them right.

I am now in less of a rush. I do more checking and more references and get more views from my colleagues.

The Lesson:

In retrospect, I should have taken it a little more slowly on hiring. You need to be more disciplined and wait for the right person.

I am now in less of a rush. I do more checking and more references and get more views from my colleagues. We have slowed down a little bit, and that slowing down has helped. We are making better decisions.

The other thing I’d say about hiring is, there are plenty of great people who are highly entrepreneurial and do well in a free-for-all environment. You have to find the right mix and make the right transitions.

In our world, people are so critical. It doesn’t require that much capital, but it does require the right people. When people ask me what I do, I tell them I’m a high-priced HR professional. It’s all about people.

Follow Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. on Twitter at @TPH_Co.

Photo courtesy of Bobby Tudor

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