Application Essay: Stephen Rushing -35-0813) the Five-Years

Pages: 10 (3097 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Economics  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] But, as it turned out, he was the real deal - a Houston oilman who, when he wasn't playing in charity golf tournaments with ex-Enron executive Lea Fastow, enjoyed spending time at his oversized Texas ranch.

During his youth, Dave dreamed of becoming a famous musician. However, like most aspiring musicians, he didn't have enough talent for stardom. Then in his late 40s, David initially saw a second chance for rock n' roll glory in Harlequin. We couldn't help but wonder if his interest was the manifestation of some sort of mid-life crisis. Thinking about his motivation in these terms always made me a little uncomfortable. Assuming that Dave was going through such a phase, I wanted to complete the deal before he lost interest.

It takes a lot of patience to successfully solicit money from professional investors even for a relatively small seven-figure deal like Harlequin's. After the initial barroom encounter with David, my partners and I spent several frustrating months attending numerous meetings. Many were formal meetings held at Gardner Energy's exclusive Houston office. I also had to suffer through a few weekend visits to his ranch. Dave and his family were usually gracious hosts, but the Texas ranch scene just is not my ideal environment. I attended our first meeting naively expecting David to promptly hand us a check for Harlequin. Of course, he didn't. Over the next few months, we probably met with David Gardner another dozen times. We talked about everything under the sun during these meetings, but he still wouldn't commit. The relief and excitement we initially felt soon gave way to anxiety.

Negotiations had stagnated. Our courtship had come to that inevitable moment of truth, when David would either name his price for making our business dreams come true or walk away. This delicate process had the potential to become especially unpleasant. At this point, David held all the important cards. With that fact painfully obvious, the Harlequin team grew even more nervous when it seemed David and his associates were having second thoughts about investing. This impression manifested itself in several ways. First, David wasn't as quick to return our phone calls, if at all. Second, he stopped inviting us to his ranch all the time (which was actually fine by me). Finally, his people suddenly became aloof, and their questions began to have a harder edge. David's team seemed to becoming emotionally detached from the deal in a way that was similar to the way one's love interest might behave just before breaking things off.

These developments began to cause us a great deal of stress. We began to wonder: Was David employing some kind of J.R. Ewing "art of war" negotiating tactic? Was this some type of macho-negotiator courage test? What had gone wrong? All of this uncertainty made us a little paranoid. As far as anyone at Harlequin knew, any wrong move could blow the entire deal. Yet something had to be done to save our "courtship" with Gardner Energy. Our team had to figure out a way to jumpstart the stalled negotiations. There were five people at our brainstorming session. At this meeting, someone suggested approaching David with a bogus story about a rival offer. Somehow, this was supposed to panic him into making a quick offer. After all, we had never agreed to enter into exclusive talks with Gardner Energy. Nevertheless, given that a scheme could easily backfire, I ruled it out immediately. Instead of trying to perform some kind of "Jedi-mind-trick" on David, we would simply arrange a final visit to his ranch, and try to close the deal.

On the day we were supposed to meet with David (D-Day), Ted and Will missed a connecting flight. Since Ted was David's favorite, this was bad news. On a hot summer afternoon, I found myself driving alone to a Texas ranch for the most important meeting of my life, in a borrowed low rider whose air conditioning chose to break down earlier that morning...the gods were not smiling on me! Turning into Dave's driveway, my stomach began to tighten. Walking towards the front door, I was growing increasingly nervous. Ringing the doorbell, my mind drew a blank. The only thought that came to mind was the lame suggestion to approach David with a bogus rival offer. Maybe I would just say "trick or treat" to whomever opened the door and ask, just like John Belushi in Animal House, "may I have [millions of dollars] please?" To my relief, David opened the door and greeted me with a friendly smile and handshake. Because his brother was visiting from out of state, we spent the first half of the afternoon chatting about Longhorn football, guns, rodeos, cowboys and Indians As though he could read my mind, David suddenly invited me outside for a walk. It was just the two of us. After the door shut behind us, he said, "Assuming I do it, here's how I want to structure the Harlequin deal..."

David wanted to make a deal. But, figuring they could take advantage of our desperate situation, his side demanded more concessions than we were prepared to offer. As we walked towards some corralled horses, he concluded his pitch and sought my response. Agreeing to his terms would have definitely saved our company. However, doing so would have left my partners, our remaining handful of other employees, and yours truly out in the cold. At this point, we didn't have much to lose. I replied, "We might be considering another I don't know if we can accept [your offer]." Staring straight down, he fixated on the mix of dirt, manure, and fire ants on the ground around his boots. From the sly grin creeping across his face, one could tell that he didn't buy my line about a rival bid. Underneath his laid-back good ol' boy facade, David Gardner was a savvy negotiator. He didn't look up or say anything for about twenty seconds. Fearing that I had blown our chance with Gardner Energy, my life flashed before my eyes. In the distance, a cow mooed, breaking the painfully tense silence. As if this was his cue, David looked up and calmly asked if we could accept a compromise. Fortunately for Harlequin, David was still motivated by his old rock n' roll dreams. After hearing, I told him that we could accept David's second offer.

In exchange for their financial backing, David and his partners would receive stock options. Harlequin got an immediate cash infusion, office space in Houston, and David's personal pledge to raise the money we needed. For the moment, Harlequin's outlook had improved.

Optional Statement

Although divorced, my parents both explained to me what it meant to be descended from African slaves in America. As first-generation college graduates, both of my parents overcame adversity that I never knew. However, I grew apart from my family after my dad unexpectedly passed away. Losing him suddenly was painful and difficult. For a while, it was easy to forget my family's valuable lessons about my African-American heritage. My father had been a prominent physician. I grew up in an upper-middle class suburb where everyone tries to fit into the dominant white culture, even if doing so meant ignoring one's own heritage.

Things changed when my brother invited me to take a "roots trip" to Harpers Ferry National Park. Obsessed with advancing my professional career, I had neglected other considerations. Losing my job as a dot-com executive forced me to take a second look at the man I had become. The process of changing my perceptions was complex. Over the years, I had been the spoiled child of a suburban professional, a successful investor and Internet entrepreneur, and even briefly homeless. The Harpers Ferry experience reminded me that I am also African-American. As we walked around the park, I thought about all the struggles my people have overcome throughout American history. Without my ancestors' sacrifices, I would never have had the freedom to attempt anything bold. My ancestors didn't even know freedom itself.

For the first time, I began looking at the world around me from an African-American perspective. First and foremost, I was always African-American. Like it or not, this had always mattered in Texas. Instead of being a millionaire, I was actually a black millionaire. Instead of simply being poor, I was a poor African-American. By understanding this basic fact, I finally become a mature adult who could see and interpret the world through a wide range of perspectives.

Looking forward, I hope to learn from classmates who possess cultural perspectives similar to mine, as well as those who do not. Through Houston's NAACP homeless outreach program, I witnessed the impact of the old black perception of what is possible. The old mentality about education being a "white thing" remains widespread. I am proof that one can embrace his roots and be successful. I hope to inspire other young men of African… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Stephen Rushing -35-0813) the Five-Years.  (2004, September 15).  Retrieved July 17, 2019, from

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"Stephen Rushing -35-0813) the Five-Years."  15 September 2004.  Web.  17 July 2019. <>.

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"Stephen Rushing -35-0813) the Five-Years."  September 15, 2004.  Accessed July 17, 2019.