The Early Dreams of Ross Perot
Born Henry Ross Perot on June 27, 1930, Perot grew up in the rural Texarkana, Texas (bio.com, 2011)1. Hard work was engrained into Perot’s life from a very early age. At as young as seven he was already working a myriad of jobs. Perot credits the values learned in his childhood to his later success in life.
After high school, Perot enrolled in the United States Naval Academy (Entrepreneur.com, 2008). After returning from duty, he was hired at IBM and was quickly recognized as a talented salesman. Discontent with being a mere salesman, Perot continually thought up ways to improve IBM’s business (Entrepreneur.com, 2008). IBM however, didn’t however embrace these ideas. By the age of thirty-two, Perot was quickly realizing his goals far surpassed that of an IBM salesman. Perot took a small loan of only $1,000 and founded Electronic Data Systems Corp2. (EDS) (Entrepreneur.com, 2008).
The Sucesses of Electronic Data Systems Corp.
In 1962, EDS was started by Perot. It had a moderate start, but quickly grew from its association with Medicare and Medicaid programs that needed EDS for its claims processing service (Entrepreneur.com, 2008)3. “EDS soon got in as one of the first contractors for many major medical insurance companies in over eleven states” (Entrepreneur.com, 2008).
Perot’s success in the insurance processing business soon led him to dream even bigger. In 1968, EDS opened their own private sector (Entrepreneur.com, 2008). This opened the door to sucess, making Perot a billionaire in less than one week after making EDS public (Entrepreneur.com, 2008)4. Perot’s ideas about running an insurance company gave him the opportunity to become one of America’s most powerful billionaire, all from a small $1,000 loan (Entrepreneur.com, 2008).
In 1984, EDS received an important job offer from General Motors (GM) (Columbia, 1996). Perot took the offer to sell EDS, and was also offered a seat on GM’s board of directors as a result (Entrepreneur.com, 2008)5. Together they endeavored to rework computerized information systems; however Perot and GM didn’t always agree on business operations (Entrepreneur.com, 2008). This ethical dilemma caused Perot leave and once again start another business. Perot felt that he would rather risk losing out on a lucrative deal than to compromise the quality and tarnish his name with unethical business proceedings.
Perot’s next venture was Perot Systems Corp., again a computer data procession company (Columbia, 1996). IBM who has dismissed Perot earlier in his life was now clamoring to work with Perot Systems (Entrepreneur.com, 2008). Together they expanded into a multi-billion dollar market, and proved that Perot could be successful in more than one industry. As the company grew, Perot also diversified into real estate, gas, and oil ("H. ross perot," 2012). The ethical question posed by the Perot’s decision to leave GM, puts businesses in a tough position as to whether to break ties with a group or individual who brings with them profitable ideas or to change their business philosophy in order to make the individual or group happy. I believe that the utilitarianism method would have been helpful in solving this ethical dilemma. Utilitarianism, developed by Bertram, “means an act is moral if it produces the great ratio of good to evil for everyone involved ("3 steps to," 2008). This process would be with support of the largest number of employees and investors. This invokes a greater ratio of good.”
Bertram would suggest that utilitarianism allows for decision making by analyzing cognitive biases and working out a solution that benefits the greatest number of people. Cognitive biases are defined as “thinking patterns based on observations and generalizations that may lead to memory errors, inaccurate judgments, and faulty logic.” (Stanovich, 2010).
Belief bias relies on our prior knowledge and understanding (Stanovich, 2010). This also includes asking, “Will this produce the best outcomes for everyone affected?” or “Are we maximizing good and minimizing harm for everyone affected?” (“ethic ops”,). In this case Adelphia would have helped everyone better if they had divulged their problems when they occurred instead of misleading others, quick action would have minimized the affects. This is valid method because everyone is treated the same and everyone receives both the positive and negative benefits of coming forward with the information. (“ethic ops”,). What we know or believe to know affects why we chose one option over another. Hindsight bias explains why individuals feel that a decision was unavoidable after it has already happened (Stanovich, 2010). Often we rely on hindsight to explore current situations. Everyone can relate to an instance where we have made a decision we wish we hadn’t. By looking at hindsight we are able to determine what processes worked and what did not in terms of decision making. Omission bias refers to the human nature of leaving out information they feel may be questionable of dangerous (Stanovich, 2010). For example we may make the decision to omit the fact that we told a fib for fear of getting in trouble. Finally confirmation bias referred to what we see and expect to happen as a result of our decision (Stanovich, 2010). For example if we are trying to decide to make a decision to gamble on a card game, we may see someone pick a heart card out of a deck of cards once every four attempts, we may use this observation to believe we will also have a one in four chance of drawing a heart card should we choose to play the game.
Obligation refers to the actions that we should take (Green, 2004). If the values assigned to the options are at the expense of our obligations then the decision may not be the most virtuous one. One must also look at the consequences associated with our actions. Ruggiero’s method doesn’t rank the various outcomes, but it does investigate them to determine who will be effected either positively or negatively (“philosophy”).Ruggiero’s methods may not always lead to virtuous decisions, but some elements of the process may be beneficial.
Perot’s Philanthropic Work
Apart from his interest in business, Perot also processed a deep belief that his wealth should be put to good use. One of his first philanthropic ventures was to charter two jets filled with supplies and medicine for American POW’s in the Vietnam War ("Ross perot biography," 2012). He also worked closely with officials to improve POW conditions ("Ross perot biography," 2012).
Perot came to the national forefront during the Iran hostage crisis, by funding the rescue of two EDS employees that were being held in Iran ("Ross perot biography," 2012). The public hailed Perot a hero for his part in the funding and negotiations. Perot developed an interest in international negotiation. When he participated in more negotiations he drew criticism from Washington, who did not appreciate his “meddling” in international affairs. This lead to a deep seated rivalry between Bush and Perot ("Ross perot biography," 2012).
Perot’s efforts soon continued by lending his support to anti-drug programs, education reform, and efforts to assist POW’s ("Ross perot biography," 2012)10. Perot’s support of many organizations allowed his significant wealth and negotiation savvy to help others.
In conclusion, Perot is representative of a self-made billionaire made through hard work and apply ethical responsibility to his business practices. Perot personifies the true meaning of “entrepreneur”, not only was he wildly successful in a variety of business ventures, he also used his wealth to help address social concerns. Perot began his entry into the business world at a young age. He started his first company and was able to succeed by looking into the future technological needs of the country. He maintained success by diversifying and working in conjunction with other top American businesses. His interest in politics led him to found the Reform party. His success as an Independent highlighted America’s desire to move away from the traditional Democratic and Republican ideals. Perot’s quest for the presidency may have been lost but he remains an American icon and example of good business ethics.
bio.com. (2011). Ross perot. Retrieved from http://www.biography.com/people/ross-perot-9438032
CNN. (1996). Political timeline. Retrieved from http://cgi.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1996/conventions/long.beach/perot/political.timeline.shtml
Columbia. (1996). Perot, h. ross. Retrieved from http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/people/A0838476.html
Entrepreneur.com. (2008, October 10). Ross perot: The billionaire boy scout. Retrieved from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/197682
H. ross perot. (2012). Retrieved from http://famoustexans.com/rossperot.htm
Reform party of the united states. (2012). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reform_Party_of_the_United_States_of_America
Ross perot biography. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.answers.com/topic/ross-perot