opportunity in crisis

Philip Anschutz, an American businessman with an estimated net worth of $7.8 billion, started in the oil business drilling his own wells. His first efforts in the 60s were unsuccessful, turning up one dry hole after another. When he finally hit oil, everything looked great… for a day. A crisis followed which he called “the most important single event” in his business career. A well he owned caught fire!

While struggling with putting the fire out Anschutz heard that Universal Studios was making a movie called Hellfighters about the legendary oil-field fire-fighter, Red Adair (who later put out the oil well fires in Kuwait during the Gulf War, 1991). Anschutz persuaded Universal to pay $100,000 to film Adair putting out the well fire for their movie. The studio cut the check. Adair put the fire out. Anschutz pocketed a profit and saved his business. The footage is in the movie.

Imagine his initial dismay when his first productive well caught fire. Yet, his goal was not to produce oil, it was to produce money. He kept his eye on that goal as he weighed his options, looking for the opportunity in the crisis.  He said further on this, “There’s always a point that if you go forward, you win — sometimes you win it all — and if you go back, you lose everything, and that was that point for me… to be pragmatic and tenacious, seeing all of the opportunity that could exist.


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