Success Stories By Dick Kazan - Valuable lessons on how to succeed in business and in life
Published on Tue July 5, 2005

     Are you afraid to take risk? Mike Halbouty, the legendary Texas oilman and an adviser to Presidents Reagan and the elder Bush, discovered at least 50 oil and gas fields and made a fortune. But in the process, he also drilled many a dry hole and went bankrupt twice.     

    Halbouty was born in Beaumont , Texas , the son of Lebanese immigrants who owned a small grocery store. In 1931, when he was 22, Halbouty graduated with his master’s degree in geology from Texas A&M, and got a job working for the Yount-Lee Oil Co. Soon, he became convinced one of their drilling sites could hold a vast quantity of oil but the foreman strongly disagreed and began to shut the site down. When Halbouty argued, the foreman shoved him into a mud pit.  

     Dripping mud, Halbouty jumped into his car and sped 50 miles to the home of the company’s owner, Miles Frank Yount, where a formal party was in progress. Mud caked Halbouty pushed past elegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen to reach Yount. Bursting with emotion, he pleaded his case to drill a little longer and when the irritated owner bellowed “no,” he kept pleading.

     After hearing a final “no,” Halbouty abruptly bet his job there would be oil there, a highly risky thing to do during the Great Depression when jobs were scarce. The stunned owner was moved by this young man’s courage and determination and hesitantly accepted that bet. Yount directed the foreman to drill a little longer. Soon, the site became a prolific oil gusher.   

     In 1937, Halbouty started his own company. Given his experience, education and knowledge of the Texas area, you might think he became an immediate success. He didn’t. His first eight wells were dry holes. Most people would have quit and gone to work for others; but Halbouty refused to give up and eventually, he became a huge success.

     What kept him going during the bad times? As he said, “You’ve got to be an optimist. You’ve got to believe no matter how many dry holes you drill, the next one is going to hit.” This is a good lesson in any business.

    In the next KazanToday, How a poor boy in a menial job got the knowledge that helped him to build one of the biggest fortunes ever. That poor boy was John D. Rockefeller.  

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