Mike Shaw ’68

Mike Shaw ’68 has parlayed his motto – “When the sun comes up, I’m up” – to achieve financial and personal success in the auto industry. He owns and operates six car dealerships in three states, and he has garnered numerous awards, including TIME Magazine’s national “Dealer of the Year” in 2012 – which he called the Heisman Trophy of car dealers – and Automotive News’ “Dealer of Distinction” in 2013.

Shaw shared business tactics and stories when he spoke to Business Honors students at Mays Business School. He said he learned his work ethic at Texas A&M University – in the Corps of Cadets and with jobs selling donuts in dorms, selling newspaper subscriptions and running a pizza parlor. For the first 10 years of his career, he worked 12 to 15 hours a day.

His first dealership failed and he said he “lost everything except my ethics.” He repaid his debts and kept working to build his empire, paying cash for every dealership with no guarantees or cross collateralization.

“Spoken like a true entrepreneur, his ‘never give up’ attitude has translated into both financial and personal success,” observed Erika Arthur ’15, a senior Business Honors and accounting major who was at the breakfast meeting. “However, his success did not come without valuable lessons learned. These lessons highlighted the value of business ethics and doing the right thing, maintaining a consistent business philosophy and appreciating the benefit of human resource differentiation. Both new and seasoned Business Honor students can apply Shaw’s wisdom as we move about our respective pursuits in life.”

Shaw said he runs his business similarly to a football team. “It’s about business and process. We map out our strategies, then go execute them,” he said. “If you give me a good attitude, enthusiasm and hard work, you’ll have a place on my team. And sometimes a player doesn’t work out and you need a quarterback change.”

Alin Piranian ’16, a junior Business Honors and finance major, said Shaw’s presentation was “less abstract and cheesy than what most people say about work-life balance.” Piranian said Shaw’s advice “was more realistic, which is more applicable.”

“Mr. Shaw claimed that when it came to work, the more hours he put in the ‘luckier’ he got,” Piranian said. “He mentioned that in whatever field you’re in, the number one thing is people. When it came to family and work-life balance, Mr. Shaw claimed that some things would have to be sacrificed, and to him it was his hobbies.”

Shaw said he maintained strong family ties because he made it a priority. He ate dinner at home every night, then returned to work or worked from home. “I made every family conference, soccer games – everything. But I didn’t golf or go hunting or things like that,” he said. “I was at home or at work. I lived my priorities.”

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,600 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.