3. Derek Bruton, Stanford University
Highlights from College Career: Derek Bruton was a star player on his high school basketball team in Gilroy, Calif., when he got recruited to Stanford, alongside Todd Lichti, who turned out to be one of the top players in America. Bruton says that recruiting class, under Coach Tom Davis, changed the face of Stanford basketball; up until then, the school hadn’t been to the NCAA tournament in 42 years.
“That’s what it takes in these college programs, is one recruiting class, one star player, to really turn around a program,” Bruton says.
During his junior year, the team made it to the NCAA tournament; in the first round, Stanford, a 3-seed school, was set to play against Siena College in New York, a 14-seed school. He and his teammates hadn’t even heard of Siena. To make a long story short, they underestimated their opponents. “I often call it the worst 24 hours of my life, because we landed in Greensboro, N.C., at 6 p.m. on a Wednesday evening, and by Thursday evening at 6 p.m. Pacific time, we were back on campus at Stanford, having been in one of the worst upsets ever in NCAA tournament history.”
After graduating from college, Bruton played professionally for two seasons in Japan.
What He’s Doing Now: Bruton, who stepped down as Kingswood U.S. CEO last June, is now at Gladstone Group, an executive search firm and M&A advisory for RIAs, asset managers, broker/dealers, fintech companies and institutions, as senior managing director. He leads Gladstone’s strategic growth consulting division and support the executive search and M&A advisory businesses as well.
Lessons Carried Over Into Wealth Management: “One is flat-out teamwork. I’ve never played an individual sport. I came into school as a top scorer out of high school, and I learned how to be a role-player on a team that had a very talented guy—Todd Lichti. They didn’t need another scorer. They needed somebody to rebound and play defense and block shots, and that was my role. In every organization, you’ve got people that play these important roles, and the magic comes when they work together. Two plus two equals five.”
“The other is to always respect your competition. I definitely learned that in 1989 against Siena, when we probably underestimated our competition. But having respect, understanding your competition, having respect for them no matter who they are, and knowing you’ve got to bring your best game each and every day is something that parlays into business.”