The Slate, a female-focused coworking space, hosts “Friends of The Slate” once a month. They invite innovators, business leaders and game changers to speak about what it takes to thrive in this community. This month, Shelly Slater, co-founder of The Slate, interviewed Roger Staubach alongside his son, Jeff Staubach.
Roger Staubach graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1965. After the Navy, he became a professional football player for the Dallas Cowboys and launched his real estate company, The Staubach Company, during that time.
In 2008 The Staubach Company merged with JLL, where Roger focused on client relationships and business development. During the interview at The Slate, he humbly talked about how influential his career in football was for his leadership skills and how it impacted his business.
Jeff Staubach is a Dallas native. He attended Duke University where he was a four-year Letterman for the Blue Devil baseball team. He later signed a contract with the New York Yankees and played two seasons with the Greensboro Grasshoppers (formerly the Greensboro Bats). Roger wanted Jeff to take part in the family legacy, sharing that he had to “beg him” to come work for his business.
And Jeff did—he joined The Staubach Company in 1998, where he handled acquisitions of properties across the country.
Roger began the interview by sharing about his wife, Marianne Staubach. They’ve been married 53 years, 54 on Sept. 4. The pair met in 4th grade and dated throughout high school. Roger said they exchanged letters while Marianne was in nursing school and he was in the Naval Academy, but the letters started to cool off around 1963. Then, he jokes, he won the Heisman, and the letters poured in.
“Senior year is when my life really changed, because I started playing quarterback my senior year of high school. I was a receiver on the freshman football team,” Roger told Slater, who moderated the interview. “The coach switched me and told me I need to be a quarterback. I said no, I don’t want to be a quarterback. He said he had been watching me play baseball and I had a good arm. He also said the other guys seemed to listen to me. So that really was a life changer for me, my senior year playing quarterback.”
Roger and Jeff’s interview with Slater went on to talk about leadership, family, and of course, more football. Check out the conversation below.
Slater: Being the best is about preparation, right? You went into these games after you over-studied what was going to happen and that its almost what happened?
Roger: You just do the best of what you can do in what you’re doing. That’s been important to me my whole life, in business and in everything else.
When I was working for the Henry S. Miller Company, Mr. Miller was a great example to me. You want to win in business, but you want to do it right. Then, rewards follow.
You have to get your priorities right. That’s really important if you want to grow and do the right thing. You have to get those principles in mind. I was lucky it started out in sports.
Your coaches said people listened to you. Why do you think that was? What is it about you, and how did you cultivate that to get other people to hear you out?
Roger: Well, it started out in sports for me. When I finally got to high school, the coaches recognized that the other guys seemed to listen to me. In business, it’s a balance to be able to run a business and not be a real jerk. But, you have to demand things from people and you have to be grateful for how things are done.
I think my parents really made me recognize the importance of somebody else, other than yourself. I think it helped me a whole lot in building a real estate firm because people wanted to do the right things for us. But overall, we did the right things for the people that work for us.
So, Jeff, how did you then pick up on this to continue that legacy? How did your dad impart that on you so you could run JLL, and how are you doing that with your kids?
Jeff: For me, it just came down to do what you say you’re going to do and don’t compromise your values, ever. If a true leader says they’re going to do something, they do it.
I tell Joe and the girls, when a quarterback makes a great throw and the player drops it, there are two things you can do. You can throw your arms up or you can throw your hands down. Or, you could meet them on the sideline and say, ‘Hey, you got it next time.’
What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve been given?
Jeff: I think the “Make Your Bed” is a great speech from Admiral McRaven.
(Editor’s Note: Jeff is referencing Naval Adm. William H. McRaven, the ninth commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, giving a widely praised speech to UT Austin’s Class of 2014. There was even a book written about it.)
Do you make your bed?
(Editor’s Note: The audience collectively chuckled.)
Roger: My wife and I make our bed every morning. We did this morning. Sometimes we get out different times, but we go back together.
Tell them about Kennedy at the Army Navy game in ’62.
Roger: I was at the Army-Navy game and there were a hundred thousand people there—it was a big deal. Kennedy was there for my first start. He came in the locker room and we had a chance to shake his hand and everything.
I was the most nervous I’ve ever been before any game I’ve ever played. Super Bowls, you name it. Fortunately, we won the game. I threw for two and ran for two.
(Editor’s Note: Slater took a question from the audience.)
When starting an entrepreneurial business, what would be the three top things you would want somebody to know to get going?
Roger: The most important thing you can do when you’re building the business—especially from the start—is to make sure it’s diverse. First of all, it’s the right thing to do to make sure your company is diverse and the opportunities are there.
I think the most important thing of all is balance. You take from life, and you give back. If you are truly balanced, you look at giving back.
Jeff: For my business, it’s about budgeting and planning. It’s a lot of planning and having things laid out. Then there’s the team—you have to have people you can rely on and trust.
Check The Slate website for more “Friends of the Slate” events.
This Q+A was edited for brevity and clarity. The story was updated with additional information at 2:30 p.m. on September 6, 2019.
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