ALMOST EVERY SUCCESSFUL PERSON I know will tell you their success was, in many ways, the result of having a mentor or role model early in their life or career. That was certainly the case for me.

I met Lawrence in the fall of 1984 when he was hiring a CFO for Bofors Electronics, a small technology company of which he had recently become CEO. I had sent my resume to Heidrick and Struggles, where it happened to land on the desk of the recruiter who was doing the search for Lawrence. It was my lucky day. The recruiter was a West Point graduate and a GE alumnus, and I was an Air Force Academy graduate and a GE alumnus, so my background resonated with the recruiter and he presented it to Lawrence. Of course, there were several qualified candidates, but Lawrence wanted a CFO who was “light but bright” and selected me for the job. That was the beginning of an incredible business and life experience for me.

Lawrence is the quintessential success story. He grew up in a small town in Canada and worked his way through Ryerson University, graduating from the engineering program. From there, he focused his energy, ambition, and talent on a career that, in a few short years, led to becoming President of Fisher and Porter's U.S. operations, while earning an MBA from Wharton along the way. Soon thereafter, Lawrence would join Bofors Electronics and hire me to work with him.

The thing that struck me immediately was that Lawrence had developed a comprehensive model for running businesses. ...

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