You grew up in Kansas City, lived in Los Angeles and New York, then moved back home. What was that like?
It was a difficult decision. I basically said to myself, You could go for 90 days, and if you hate it you can go back. Kansas City is not a small city, but it’s not New York City and it’s not L.A. But I couldn’t be happier. There couldn’t be a better place to run a business. It’s in the center of the country, so it’s great for travel purposes. I’m not more than three hours from either coast. The city has a lot of the things that a big city has in terms of culture and arts and recreation and sports, without all the hassles of a major city. Rush hour lasts 45 minutes.
You’re on the board of an organization called No More Homeless Pets.
I’m on the Kansas City board. It’s a national movement. Its real mission is spay and neutering and education, and providing spay and neutering services for low-income families. We’ve had a pretty dramatic effect in the past five years. When we started, the city was putting down 25,000 to 30,000 animals a year. We’ve gotten that number down to 15,000.
Our firm also supports Operation Breakthrough, which was started several years ago by two nuns. They provide daycare and after-school care for children of parents on welfare or who are indigent or close to indigent. They have upwards of 700 kids who spend the day with the nuns.
What do you do with your down time?
I play a lot of golf. And I love to cook. I can cook about anything. Most of what I make is the food I grew up eating as a kid. I cook every Sunday when I’m home. I usually have 10 to 20 people on Sunday for dinner. Meatloaf, macaroni and cheese from scratch, fried chicken, mashed potatoes. I also enjoy wines. I have about a 5,000-bottle cellar.
Wow. Can you give us three recommendations?
It’s more about the vintage than the individual wines. Hartwell is one of my favorites. And Lewis Cellars. And of course the California cult wines—Grace, Harlan, Screaming Eagle. They’re incredibly expensive. Not often, in my mind, can you justify the price, but regardless I have some of that wine.
Have you had one mentor who’s been particularly helpful?
Not so much any individual. I’ve worked with a psychologist for 26 years who has been a huge influence in my world and my work. It’s a longstanding relationship. We continue to spend an hour or so a week together. It really comes out of the backbone of my beliefs, to the degree that when we work on ourselves, I think we end up being better workers, brokers, husbands, wives, better people all around. It’s a real key concept of how my business has been run. Most of my brokers have worked with this guy—not because we think anybody is mentally ill, but because we think we can all benefit from it.