University of Southern California

ROB UKROPINA: LIFE IS A MIRROR
January 29, 2010 • by Rob Ukropina

Dear Friends of Marshall:

I firmly believe that: Life is a mirror. It's a direct reflection -- what you put in, you get out. I've always believed that your net worth is your network. And your network is directly proportional to the number of people you've helped along the way. If you helped a thousand people before you start your own business, you're going to have a lot of luck. If you've focused on yourself and what's in it for you, and haven't helped other people, then you're not going to have a lot of luck. And Trojans are the best people in the world at helping others.

That's a philosophy I learned at the USC Marshall School of Business. When I founded Overnite Express, I brought that thinking with me and ran my company as a servant leader. I took the typical business pyramid and flipped it upside down. I owned the company, but I parked my car next to the trash can and came in every day and made the coffee. I had two rules: I never screened a phone call and I never raised my voice. We focused on listening to our employees and giving them what they needed to be successful. If a single mother needed to pick up her child from daycare at a certain time, we made sure she could do it. We had 350 employees -- and rarely did anyone ever leave Overnite Express.

The past four years I've helped put together the USC Marshall Partners Leadership Summit in Orange County. As a starting point, I invited about 250 USC friends who happen to be presidents of their own companies, and it's grown from there. On February 11th we will be holding this year’s Summit and we expect a sell-out event. Funny how that works -- all these Trojans helping each other out, and all of us together growing more and more successful. It goes back to the very simple idea that life is about giving.

I hope you'll consider making a gift to the Marshall School of Business. It's a chance to help a lot of young Trojans make their start in the world. Believe me, whatever you give, you'll be rewarded twofold. Life is a mirror. And you'll like what you see.

Yours truly,

Rob Ukropina
Managing Partner, Black Diamond Ventures