For his mentor

Published on Thursday, 29 May 2014 01:14 - Written by Betty Waters, blw@tylerpaper.com

Tyler native Bob Buford is a social entrepreneur, a former cable television executive, a best-selling author and philanthropist now living in Dallas, but he has a farm near Tyler.

 His latest book is titled “Drucker & Me: What a Texas Entrepreneur Learned From the Father of Modern Management.”

It resulted from Buford spending many hours talking and seeking guidance from Peter Drucker, an Austrian-born American management consultant considered the father of modern management. Drucker became Buford’s consultant, mentor and lifelong friend.

Buford writes in the introduction that he drew the book from more than a thousand pages of transcripts of conversations he had with Drucker, his mentor, who died at age 95.

Buford has been quoted as saying, “Peter was the man I most admired on this Earth. To me, Peter was to the 20th century what the French aristocrat Alex De Tocqueville, was to the 19th century.”

Buford said he attempted in the book “to reveal the man behind the legend.”

 Buford wrote, “Peter was one of those rare individuals who really did practice what he preached. His motivation for all that he did professionally was to contribute toward a ‘fully functioning society,’ and for Peter that began with a fully functioning human being. He lived a principled life, uncluttered by unwholesome pursuits or frivolous diversions.”

Buford and Drucker formed an “unlikely” friendship, Buford said.

He wrote that they were “a generation apart in age. One of us spoke English with a heavy Austrian accent. The other spoke Texan. I owned a cable television company. Peter didn’t even own a television. I wore a business suit. Peter wore a long-sleeve shirt buttoned at the top with a bolo tie in place of a necktie. I followed the Dallas Cowboys. He followed Japanese art.”

Dr. Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” praised Buford’s book, saying, “Now everyone can benefit from the amazing conversations Bob had with one of the brightest minds of all time.”

Ken Blanchard, coauthor of “The One Minute Manager,” echoed, “I can’t think of two more influential people, not only in my life but in the lives of many others, than Peter Drucker and Bob Buford. Learning from their friendship and stimulating interactions is a gift you won’t want to miss.”

Buford has also written several books presenting the concept of “Halftime: Moving from Success to Significant.” His writings stemmed in part from principles he learned from Drucker.

In “Halftime,” published in 1995, Buford focuses on the transition a person makes when moving beyond the first half of life and from professional success to significance and a more satisfying life in the second half of life.

“Instead of facing a crisis as I approached middle age, I discovered that a new and better life lay before me. I called the process of discovery ‘halftime,’ and the eventual outcome of this process led to my ‘second half.’” Buford wrote.

Buford took his writings to a publisher who turned them into a book. “Since then, it is safe to say a movement has evolved around Halftime,” Buford wrote in the preface to an expanded and updated version of the book.

“This inspiring book,” wrote Stephen R. Covey of the Covey Leadership Center, “comes out of the mind and heart of a truly remarkable individual and addresses an enormous need in our society – how to find meaning and fulfillment in the second half of our lives. In short, how to move from success to significance.”

Buford writes that his message is: “If you are approaching middle age … the very best years of your life lie ahead of you. Whatever success you are having will never completely fulfill you. A life of significance – of really mattering – is yours for the taking.”

The transition when a person moves beyond the first half of life is halftime, a time of revitalization and for catching a new vision for living the second half of life, which can be its most rewarding, Buford wrote.

In the first half of his life, Buford grew a successful cable television company. He was chairman/CEO of Buford Television Inc., a family-owned business that began the ABC affiliate in Tyler in the early 1950s. Buford grew his company into a network of cable systems across the country and sold it in July 1999.

In the second half of his life, Buford founded the Leadership Network in 1984 to serve leaders of innovative churches and help pastors become effective leaders.

The network in turn created the Halftime Group in 1998, an organization designed to inspire business and professional leaders to embrace God’s calling, according to information. It provides resources and coaching to guide others through the journey from success to significance.

In his book “Finishing Well: The Adventure of Life Beyond Halftime,” Buford presents inspiring interviews with 60 people age 40 and older who have furthered their significance rather than rest on their success.

Among those he interviewed are former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, authors Jim Collins and Ken Blanchard and philosophy professor Dallas Willard.

 Buford is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and of the Owner Managed Program at Harvard Business School.

 Buford served on the board and as chairman of the Drucker Institute.

 He is the recipient of numerous leadership and ethics awards, including the Christian Management Association’s 2005 Christian Management Award, the 2010 J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award from Southern Methodist University Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility and the Texas Christian Leader of the Year Award.