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Clarence Otis, CEO, Darden Restaurants
"Well I think success is really sort of realizing your dreams, whatever those might be, and you define success for yourself. I learned earlier about my parents in their 20s, how they and all their friends, in the context in which they were living, were really high achievers. I mean because they had the drive and the ambition to want to go some place where they could do more than they had and that same desire for achievement. That probably defines success."

On What it Takes to Achieve Success:
"I've always felt like, let's do an outstanding job here and see what materializes. What I do believe, if you do a great job in an organization that is successful, then there should be a next level, and it's very hard to predict what that's going to be because things move around. I think you need to be open to any number of possibilities. So when the Smokey Bones opportunity came to me, to move out of finance and into a leadership role in general management of a restaurant company, that wasn't a goal I had set. But I thought about it and thought it would be pretty interesting. It was a great business from my perspective, for a lot of reasons, and so I did that."

On Taking Risks:
"I'd say it was, but I felt comfortable taking a risk. I knew the financial community well enough that you could always go back I felt like I like I could always go back and do that. I liked Chemical Bank and the whole culture, so there was the risk of leaving a place that I really liked and where I was well liked. But I thought it was worth doing. The opportunity I saw with Darden was that it was in an industry that still had a lot of growth. It's market is in casual dining and Darden clearly had everything it took to continue to lead the industry. And so, as it grew it could be significant."

On the Paths of Life
"I think it's definitely not all me. It's going to be what are the situations that you encounter and then, what are the dynamics of those situations. There are situations, there are dynamics, that are outside your control. What's in your control is how you react to it. There are situations and dynamics where your reaction will be, in retrospect, what you think probably was right and other cases where you think probably wasn't right, and so that's going to inform the next step on the timeline. You just have to react well more often than you don't."


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Copyright © 2006, Alan S. Becker