Pizza — that great American favorite. But, it hasn’t always been a weekly meal of choice, largely because good pizza (or any pizza) was hard to find. That is until Frank Carney came along.

In 1958, Frank and his brother, Dan, borrowed $600 from their mother and opened the very first Pizza Hut in Wichita, Kansas. Their vision of what pizza could be drove Pizza Hut’s success. Stores popped up around the country and by the mid 1970s, Pizza Hut had 3,000 locations.

Frank stepped away from the pizza business for a while, after selling Pizza Hut to PepsiCo in 1977. He tried his hand as a venture capitalist for 13 years and readily admits it wasn’t the best career move. In 1994, he went back to what he knew best — pizza. Frank joined up with Papa John’s and has 133 stores open.

Frank’s entrepreneurial vision made him an obvious choice for this year’s Conn Distinguished New Venture Leader Award, given by the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship.

During his recent visit to campus, Frank was quick to share his list of things learned with Mays students (as well as some Papa John’s pizza). And at the top of that list — if you’re going to do something, do it with passion.

“You can’t be everything to everyone,” he said, “so pick what you want to do and be great at it.”