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Last Update: Friday September 17, 2021

Key Idea: Go With Your Strengths

Steve Palko and his partner Bob Simpson made a perfect pair. Like all partners we have studied, each had their set of strengths which the other partner valued.

Key Question:


Lead with your strengths and do what you already know a lot about.

Q: When do we have to work on our weaknesses?

When we can't find people to work with us who can do what we can't do and when we are so bad at communicating with people that our turn-over rate holds us back. The problem with spending too much time on work that you don't natually do well is it is depressing and because it doesn't come easy to you it takes you much longer to accomplish a goal.

Think about it

What are you doing now that someone else could do better?

Clip from: XTO Energy (aka Cross Timbers)

"I'll be back."

Fort Worth:  Remember when oil was $9 per barrel?  Bob Simpson and Steve Palko do.  They founded Cross Timbers Oil & Gas in Fort Worth at the same time others were getting out of the business. These two visionaries with a long range plan  teach us all what it means to take calculated risks.

Palko was the  VP of Engineering for Southland when there was a hostile take over of the company.  As a reminder to everyone in their newly-formed venture, one of the first things he did was to buy the "I'll be back" bronze (above).   And, surely, they did come back with a vengeance!

Today, know as XTO Energy, the business has quickly grown out of the ranks of a small business, but we believe the spirit of small business will permeate this business forever.  These people dream the impossible dreams then turn them into multi-faceted realities with deep-seated values.

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XTO Energy, Inc.

Gary Simpson, Senior Vice President

810 Houston St.
Fort Worth, TX 76102-6298

Visit our web site:

Business Classification:
energy, oil and gas

Year Founded: 1986

Go With Your Strengths

STEVE PALKO: I've worked for a variety of major and independent oil companies.

HATTIE: (Voice over) Steve is the engineer; Bob, the CPA strategist.

(To Bob) Is there a romance to you about the oil and gas business?

BOB SIMPSON: Yeah, there is a romance.

You know, people ask me how I got in it, and rather than some elaborate answer, it's probably as simple this: When I was a little boy, my father was a cotton farmer in west Texas. He would drive up and down the road, and he would point at pump jacks. And he said, `Son, I almost bought that land, and if I had, we'd have been wealthy as royalty.' So, I ended up associating success and prosperity with oil, and I liked the smell of the gas tank when we were filling up.

HATTIE: Did you really?

BOB: I liked to smell the gas, yes.

My parents really taught me responsibility. I grew up in an agrarian atmosphere where I had my own chores. As a young man, I started my own businesses. You know, my mother laughs; I had an egg route when I was four.

HATTIE: Eggs when you were four!

BOB: When I was four, yes.

HATTIE: You would take your mother's eggs and...

BOB: I had my own hens (you know that it was totally subsidized -- I didn't know what the economics were), but I just marketed eggs door to door at twice their price. And I really thought it was my product. And people bought them. It was probably more because I was four years old.

But I was intuitively and instinctively an entrepreneur and interested in business. But my parents -- my mother's still alive, my father passed away -- they were very proud people, very hard-working people. Dad would say, `So it's a holiday? We're still working.' But that taught me self-responsibility.

I was an academic person. Grades were my deal. I went to Baylor on the full scholarships.

HATTIE: Math was your game.

BOB: Math, and I like liberal arts -- English -- as well.

HATTIE: So you could do both words and numbers! That's good.

BOB: It's an accident! But, I appreciate the arts; I was an academic person. I asked my mother one time, `You know, Mom, I don't remember you helping me with my homework.' And she says, `Well, you never asked.' I said, ` I was hoping it was more complicated than that. But apparently, it's my nature, `If it's my job, I'll do it.'

HATTIE: Independent.

BOB: Independent.

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