PETER HUGGINS helped build a company that sold for $380 million dollars before starting his oil and gas business. He attributes his ongoing success to his ability to connect with even the most difficult of people.
Advice from Peter Huggins
“You have to figure out what you’re passionate about. You can’t fake it.”
“Hire people smarter than you.”
“If I am considering a job, I ask the people working within the organization, ‘How does your supervisor treat you? Do you feel an appreciated part of the organization? Is your work respected?”
“At the end of the day, I want to feel that I brought something positive to the people I worked with, that I’ve added value.”
“The most underrated thing in business is personal relationships, personal interaction. Being adept at working in a group and being able to communicate verbally and non-verbally is more important than being good at all the skills that you learn at business school.”
Peter Huggins’ Business Journey
In 1977 Peter Huggins graduated Maharishi International University in Interdisciplinary Studies and married his then girlfriend Susan. Peter moved from Fairfield back to his native California where he landed a job managing a racquetball club. There, he solved the central business challenge of keeping the racquetball courts full during the workday by hiring several exceptional childcare professionals. With the hires, moms started showing up with their children and were able to enjoy playing racquetball without worrying about their kids.
From the experience, Peter learned that he liked both business and working with people. Further, he realized that human connection is the most important and under-appreciated aspect of business, an idea that helped Peter thrive throughout his career.
After this experience, Peter attended the University of California Berkeley’s MBA program. Upon graduating in 1983, he turned down a job at Hewlett Packard. Instead, he began working for some meditating friends in the oil and gas industry, where Peter managed several limited partnerships. Peter’s ability to deal with people made him the perfect fit. In 1984 Peter and Susan moved back to Fairfield, where they raised a family.
After several successful years, one of the group’s key drillers went bankrupt and was accused of fraud. Peter’s employer friends told Peter that if he could settle the outstanding issues, they would give him half of the company. After three years of dealing with lawyers and other difficult people, he crafted an agreement with all parties and thereby obtained half the company’s assets.
In 1993, Peter started working for Books Are Fun, a small, twenty-person company, as the VP of Sales. The owner and best man at Peter’s wedding, Earl Kaplan, had been encouraging Peter to join for several years. During Peter’s time at Books Are Fun, he hired, fired, and performed many human resources (HR) duties, bringing a human element to the data-driven business. In seven years, the company grew to $240,000,000 of revenue. Reader’s Digest took notice and purchased the company for $380,000,000.
After leaving Books Are Fun in 2000, Peter returned to the oil and gas business, running his own office. He leveraged his reputation among Texas drillers for being a straight-shooter who paid his bills on time to find strong drilling opportunities. He used his well-developed network of friends to attract local investors for limited partnerships. After much initial success, investors and drillers have remained loyal even with the downturn of oil prices.