When I think of the great entrepreneurs that I've been blessed to get to know personally over the years, Mr. Martin Tibbitts truly stands out.
Marty, as the Founder and CEO of the BOSS family of businesses, has both built and acquired an impressive array of companies - ranging from telecommunications to security software, to web services and analytics, to digital media.
What stands out about Marty for me above all is his beautiful entrepreneurial mind.
Extremely well-read and with a wide array of personal, athletic, and intellectual passions and experiences, Marty is the master of the "non-obvious."
He is able to connect the strategic dots between industries, market and competitive trends with a creativity and panache that can only flow from a lifelong passion for the game of "business chess."
This ability to visualize the impact of small moves here and there - like securing an incremental cost advantage - and then translating those advantages slowly but surely into a strong competitive position - well this is an essential quality of great business strategy and one that Marty possesses in buckets.
As a successful “real world” entrepreneur, however, Marty’s skills go well beyond strategy.
He also possesses great heaping platefuls of business guts.
Unlike far too many educated at America's most prestigious universities (and Marty is a proud Stanford graduate), Marty's career has been defined by the paths not taken.
No law school or business school for Marty. No safe corporate training or analyst programs early in his career.
Heck, to the best of my knowledge Marty has never had a job in the traditional sense of the term in his whole life!
Marty began his career in straight commission sales and by his late twenties had already started and failed at three or four businesses before finally laying the groundwork of the Telco company that would be his first big success.
These early life experiences - especially the failures - incurred in him the core and so inspirational mindset that the unforgivable sin in modern business is not coming up short in one's pursuit of the brass ring.
But rather it is that so depressing combination of over-conservatism, nay-saying, and settling for just getting by that unfortunately plagues way too much of American business.
And what really inspires me - especially when I compare Marty to so many of our Stanford peers that took the “safe” career road - is not his personal economic success, however impressive that might be.
It is not the fact that he has probably paid 100X, 500X, 1,000X of the local, state and federal taxes of the “average” American.
It's not even the hundreds (if not low thousands) of jobs his companies have created over the years - and the families that those jobs have supported in the depressed Detroit metropolitan area where his businesses are headquartered.
No, while all these accomplishments are impressive and worthy of praise and admiration for sure, what really turns me on about Marty Tibbitts and what I see as the core driver of his entrepreneurial success is that he has had - and still has in buckets - the courage to act on his creative convictions.
And an entrepreneurial and business lifetime of so thinking - and so acting - well that is a career, and a life, worth living.