Fresh out of eye surgery and driving 1,600 miles to College Station, Texas, Willie T. Langston II ’81 says he wouldn’t have missed talking to Mays Business School Business Honors students for the world. With an instant charisma that lights up a room, Langston shared wisdom on a topic that hit close to home—vision.
“How much vision do you need to have during the interview process?” Langston asked the students. “What do you have to know about what you want to do when you’re sitting in that interview chair?”
“Be humble enough to admit that at 21, 22, or 23 years old you don’t have absolute certainty about what it is that you want to do for the rest of your life,” Avalon Advisors co-founder Willie T. Langston II ’81 told Business Honors students during a recent visit. (view more photos)
Graduating with an accounting degree from Texas A&M University and an MBA from Stanford, Langston says he didn’t have his career path nailed down before interviewing in the business arena. He took a job in public accounting after graduating, and says that although it wasn’t his dream job, he quickly learned that didn’t mean it wasn’t the right job. “For me it was boring, I was no good at doing it, and it was still one of the best career decisions that I could have made,” he says. Langston claims his two years in public accounting taught him how to be organized and structured— two skills that propelled him to later success at companies such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and his own company he co-founded in 2001, Avalon Advisors.
Langston claims that landing the “right job,” rather than the dream job, hinges on approaching the job search with an open, truthful frame of mind.
“Be humble enough to admit that at 21, 22, or 23 years old you don’t have absolute certainty about what it is that you want to do for the rest of your life,” the Palestine, Texas native told students about sitting in an interview chair. He explained that too many college graduates are programmed to believe they should know every detail about a job, even when they’ve never worked the position. “Truth is right, but truth requires preparation,” Langston adds, encouraging students to thoroughly learn their DNA and what they want out of their careers. “Press yourself to be more prepared than your peers so that you can be fully truthful and allow truth to fully work for you; leading you to the job that you should have, not could have.”
Langston also spoke to the students about maintaining the right mindset after getting the job. Referencing a recent sermon by Gregg Matte ’92, Langston says, “Perspective determines priorities, which dictate practice. … For example, my family means more to me than my career,” he says, “and that perspective determines my priorities and practice.” Langston also cautions the students on trying to maintain a perspective in a company that cultivates a contrasting one—“Trust me, at 22 and the low person on the totem pole, it is far more likely that your firm influences your priorities than you’re shifting its culture,” he says.
Langston is the first in a series of speakers who will come talk to the Business Honors students, and he was quick to commend the Aggies on their obvious hard work. He closed with Luke 12:48 — “To whom much is given, much is required”— a challenge for the students to maximize the rich knowledge they’ve received at Texas A&M.