The indelible statement, “they can’t eat you”, spoken to David Becker when he started his first business by his all-knowing grandfather, while it may be an obvious truth, instills confidence to leap into the unknown. The bit of advice is truly powerful, simplistic, and hilarious – all at the same time.
As a storyteller, every once in a while I have the pleasure of meeting a kindred soul who can’t shut up. This was the case with David Becker.
Before the Launch Fishers’ Failfest event last November, I overheard several tech geeks discussing how surprised they were that Becker was a keynote. I wasn’t clear what the big deal was, aside from having a CEO of a NASDAQ-traded company address a group of entrepreneurs and techies. My first reaction was, “big deal, he’s a banker – let’s hope no one starts snoring.”
(let me first and foremost apologize to any and all of my banking friends – you know all too well the stereotypes of how bankers are thought of: conservative and boring)
After listening to Becker speak, I made a point to approach him for an interview. He graciously accepted my offer, resulting in one of my favorite articles I have written to date. (note: ONE of…again, don’t freak out if I have written about you – you know I love everyone I have focused upon, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have written it!)
First of all, you never know the personality of a banking executive once you get them in an interview. Years ago at a party hosted by one of my neighbors, I experienced my most socially awkward situation ever, which is saying something.
The event was a couples’ Valentine’s Day party, and I attended alone since my husband was overseas on a business trip. I walk into the kitchen to get a drink and introduced myself to a couple. I asked them the basics: where they live, their occupations, and the answer I received was “CFO of XYZ bank” Ugh. Dry couple on first glance, and I couldn’t think of a more boring job than that, truly. (not just a banking executive – but a CFO! For the love of God…) So as I am fumbling for my next question and looking desperately around for someone to rescue me, the CFO drops his beer cap, and in a moment that seemed to move in slow motion, I noticed that as he bent over, his silk, leopard print boxers were showing between his corduroys, and turtleneck / sweater vest ensemble. His wife noticed my eyes pop out of my head and my jaw drop before I could regain my composure, she leans over her seemingly forever bent-over husband, and says, with both hands in claw position, “he’s an animal, grrrrrr” emphasized with a perfect purring sound. Ice broken. Faith in humanity restored, we talked all night!
So given this nearly embarrassing experience, and many more that I can’t possibly share in one sitting, I knew I could handle anything this banking CEO could dish out.
What transpired with Becker was an honest recollection of his childhood and entrepreneurial exploits, with perhaps his best story being his first job out of college working for GE financial, highlighted by meeting Jack Welch. Becker is fearless, yet thoughtful, and a pleasantly surprising addition to the banking industry. The industry could use more like him, just like “Princeton could use a guy like Joel….” (work with me here, you HAVE to get this movie reference….)
Article on David Becker, CEO and Chairman of First Internet Bank: