2006 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"This may be the most important piece of advice I have to give: Be happy and satisfied with what you do. Life is too short. If you’re not happy, find something else to do."
Industry experience: Pickens, founder and chairman, BP Capital Management, is principally responsible for the formulation of the energy futures investment strategy of the BP Capital Commodity Fund and the BP Capital Equity Fund. BP Capital manages one of the nation's most successful energy-oriented investment funds. Every $1 investors put into the commodity fund managed by BP Capital at its inception had a value of $46 million at yearend 2008, an annualized return of about 40 percent. Pickens frequently utilizes his wealth of experience in the oil and gas industry in the evaluation of potential equity investments and energy sector themes. In July 2008, Boone launched a grass-roots campaign aimed at reducing this country's crippling dependence on imported oil. In television ads, on his Pickens Plan website, and in personal appearances, he has spelled out how our dependence on foreign is an addiction that threatens our economy, our environment and our national security, and ties our hands as a nation and a people. He has spent the time since spelling out how this country can drag itself out of this quagmire, if it acts quickly and reasonably. His 2008 New York Times bestseller, The First Billion is the Hardest, also details what this country must do to win back its energy independence. Pickens has not been shy in predicting oil and gas prices and — more often than not — has been uncanny accurate. As a result, he is a frequent guest on some of the nation's most-watched business programs (CNBC has coined him the "Oracle of Oil"). Pickens is also aggressively pursuing a wide range of other business interests, from water marketing, alternative wind power, and ranch development initiatives to Clean Energy, a clean transportation fuels company he founded and took public in May 2008 (the eighth entity he has helped go public in his career). Through Mesa Water, Pickens is the largest private holder of permitted groundwater rights in the United States. Clean Energy is advancing the use of natural gas as a cleaner-burning and more cost-effective transportation fuel alternative to gasoline and diesel. Mesa Power plans to operate a 1,000-megawatt wind farm in the Texas Panhandle. Pickens was founder of Mesa Petroleum in its various forms beginning in 1956. Mr. Pickens' career at Mesa spanned four decades. Under his leadership, Mesa grew to become one of the largest and most well known independent exploration and production companies in the United States; Mesa produced more than 3 trillion cubic feet of gas and 150 million barrels of oil from 1964 to 1996.
Educational Background and Associations: Pickens earned a degree in geology from Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University) in 1951. His many educational associations and honors include Honorary Doctorate of Science Oklahoma State University (2002); Honorary Doctorate of Public Service awarded by George Washington University (1988); Francis Marion College awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humanities (1988); Distinguished Lecturer – Emory University School of Business (1987); Doctor of Laws conferred by Barry University, Miami Florida (1986); Named Distinguished Fellow of the College of Arts & Sciences at Oklahoma State University (1982); Henry G. Bennett Distinguished Service Award from Oklahoma State University (1982); Distinguished Alumni Award from Oklahoma State University (1982); Distinguished Fellow Award from Oklahoma State University (1980).
Professional and Industry Associations: During his long and distinguished career, Pickens has served on numerous boards and industry associations, including as a board of directors of the National Football Foundation (2009), Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (2009), The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans Inc. (2007) and The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation (2007), a board trustee of the Cooper Aerobics Center (1989 to 1993), chairman of the board of visitors (1983, 1984), and a member of the Board of Visitors (1977 to 1986), MD Anderson Cancer Center, and as life member and chairman (1984, 1985) of the Texas Research League. He also served on the U.S. Department of the Interior's National Petroleum Council (1971). Throughout his career, Pickens championed a new era of corporate accountability and is credited with making corporate managements more responsive to the interests of their shareholders. To further this, in 1986, Pickens founded the non-profit United Shareholders Association to help shareholders and inform them of corporate abuses.
Civic Interests: Throughout his professional life, Pickens has been a generous philanthropist, giving away nearly $700 million. In 2007, his $200 million in charitable donations landed him once again on the Chronicle of Philanthropy's list of top U.S. philanthropists (in 2006, he contributed $175 million to a wide range of causes and the formation of the T. Boone Pickens Foundation; in 2005, his $220 million of giving earned Pickens fifth spot on the Chronicle's list). The Pickens Foundation is focused on improving lives through grants supporting educational programs, medical research, athletics and corporate wellness, at-risk youths, the entrepreneurial process and conservation and wildlife initiatives. Among its 2007 donations, the Foundation awarded $50 million each to two University of Texas health care institutions, UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. In the past, Pickens has awarded more than $250 million to Oklahoma State University; $10 million to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to underwrite the Air Force One Pavilion; $6 million to the American Red Cross for hurricane disaster relief operations; and $3 million to the Oklahoma Heritage Association. He has also made million-dollar-plus contributions to a wide-range of medical research institutions and treatment centers, including the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Scottish Rite Children's Hospital and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. To recognize his sizable donations, the Stillwater-based Oklahoma State University renamed its football stadium Boone Pickens Stadium in 2003 and dedicated the T. Boone Pickens School of Geology in 1989. Pickens has served on many committees and boards, including American Red Cross Chairman's Advisory Board (2005) and as National Campaign for a Drug Free America adviser (1989). Among his other civic honors, he has earned the Key to the City of Dallas (1989), Bill Clements' Man of the Year (1989), and recognition of support from Ronald McDonald House of Amarillo, St. Anthony's Hospital, and the Harrington Cancer Center.
Honors: A number of diverse organizations recognized Pickens for his deeds. Among them: 2009 Time magazine "100" list of world's most influential people; 2009 L. Austin Weeks Memorial Medal; 2009 Success magazine "Achiever of the Year" award; 2009 American Association of Political Consultants, "Public Affairs Campaign of the Year" for the Pickens Plan; 2009, 43rd annual Texas Legislative Conference "Texan of the Year" award; 2009 Franklin Institute's Bower Award for Business Leadership; 2008 Recipient of Park Cities Quail Unlimited Lifetime Sportsman Award; 2008 Association of Fundraising Professionals' Paschal Murray Award for Outstanding Philanthropist; 2008 National Football Foundation Distinguished American Award; 2008 Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institution Award for Corporate Citizenship; 2008 Weather Channel's Forecast Earth Hot List (10 Most Influential People or Entities in the Fight against Global Warming); and 2008 Flak Jacket Award, "Best Spokesperson: Industry," for being "the most intrepid, daring and verbally agile communicators." The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans Inc. selected Pickens as a recipient of the 2006 Horatio Alger Award, which epitomizes those who overcome adversity and humble beginnings to achieve success (he joined its board of directors in 2007). The Alger selection is but one of many honors awarded Pickens for his achievements, including Trader Monthly's 2006 Trader of the Year award, the Texas Business Hall of Fame (2005); Oklahoma Hall of Fame (2003), the City of Amarillo's "Golden Nail Award" (2002); U.S. Department of Energy, Clean Cities National Partner award, ENRG (2002); INFORM's Corporate Environmental Leadership Award (2002); Pima County Arizona Clean Cities' Annual Transportation Award, ENRG (2001); Clean Cities' Clean Air Challenge Award, Pickens Fuel Corp. (2001); Oil & Gas Investor's Hart Publication list of "100 Most Influential People of the Petroleum Century" (2000); Honda Environmental Citizen Award (2000); Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition (2000); California State Assembly, Clean Cities Coachella Valley Region – Environmental Citizen (2000); Tucson Regional Clean Cities National Partner Award. ENRG, (2000); Riverside County Board of Supervisors, Clean Cities Community Accomplishment Award, ENRG (2000); CALSTART's Blue Sky Award, Pickens Fuel Corp. (2000); California State Senate Certificate of Recognition (2000); Earth Day Award (1993); Texas General Land Office's Clean Air Texas Environmental Award (1993); Clean Across America Campaign, honored in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles for promoting natural gas (1993); Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition Achievement Award (1993); Financial World "CEO of the Decade" (1989); West Texas State University Student Senate commendation (1988); Financial Management Association National Honor Society (1988); Washington Institute for Policy Studies' Columbia Free Enterprise Award (1987); Financial Management Association's Outstanding Financial Executive Award (1987); Texas A&M University College of Business Administration's Distinguished Entrepreneur (1987); Financial Management Association's Outstanding World Executive Award (1987); Honored Executive Award from University of Tennessee (1986); The Future Business Leaders of America "Giant in the Industry" award (1985); Carnegie Mellon Crisis Man Award (1985); Stanford University Alumni Association Houston Chapter's Houston Business Man of the Year Award (1981); and Financial World CEO of the Year (1978).
Pickens, an avid exercise enthusiast who held the top spot of the Mesa Racquetball Ladder for 8 years (1979-1987), is particularly proud of his companies' pioneering fitness programs. In 1989, Mesa was the first corporation to receive its accreditation from the Institute of Aerobics Research. Among other awards, The President's Council Physical Fitness recognized Mesa as the "Most Physically Fit Company in America" (1985).
Other Notable: During his career, the oft-quoted Pickens has appeared regularly in both national and international publications. He also has been the cover subject for the following periodicals: Texas Monthly, September 2008; Philanthropy, 2006; 100 Most Influential People of the Petroleum Century, 2000; Texas Business, September 1996; Investment Dealers' Digest, December 1988; Ultra, October 1986; Futures, August 1986; Time, March 1985; Business Week, May 1985; Chief Executive, Autumn 1985; Regardie's, December 1985, Westward, 1984, and Fortune 1983. His autobiography, Boone (recently updated), spent 15 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller List.
Personal: Pickens, who lives in Dallas, is married to Toni Brinker Pickens. He has five children and 11 grandchildren.