Reginald F. Lewis Before TLC Beatrice: The Young Man Before The Billion-Dollar Empire
Following the 1987 leveraged buyout of Beatrice Foods, Reginald F. Lewis was solidly positioned as CEO of a billion dollar conglomerate and a major player on Wall Street. Still in his forties, with a personal fortune that placed him on the Forbes 400 list, this pioneering African American businessman had achieved unimaginable success without benefit of inherited wealth or family connections. More
Decades after his death, the pioneering vision and spirit of enterprise that made Reginald F. Lewis one of the leading figures in the American business community continue to resonate and capture the imaginations of entrepreneurs and corporate leaders across the country. As the man responsible for the unprecedented 1987 leveraged buyout of Beatrice Foods, Reginald F. Lewis established himself as a titan of Wall Street, with the mere mention of his initials, RFL, signaling to investors, executives, and colleagues that it was no longer time for “business as usual.” The fact that RFL enjoyed this level of success and reputation, heading a billion dollar conglomerate while only in his mid-forties, might seem astonishing given his middle-class roots in Baltimore, Maryland. The reality that he had built a personal fortune worth four hundred million dollars and ranked among the richest Americans on the annual Forbes 400 list, all without the traditional advantages of inherited wealth or family connections, only serves to amplify the truly remarkable achievement of this iconic and groundbreaking African-American business leader.
What prepared this young man for the unimaginable rise to the top he would experience in later life, and what can be learned from the formative years that helped to shape and mold Reginald F. Lewis into a genuine American success story? Lin Hart’s informative and inspirational new book, "Reginald F. Lewis Before TLC Beatrice: The Young Man Before the Billion-Dollar Empire," sets out to explore and shed valuable insight on these precise topics, drawing on his own personal friendship with Reginald F. Lewis and their shared experiences dating back to their Baltimore teenage days and their college years at Virginia State.
Reginald F. Lewis Before TLC Beatrice is a revelatory look back, focusing on a ten year period from roughly 1956 through 1966, when Lin Hart and Reginald F. Lewis, or “Reg” as he was known at the time, were particularly close, first while attending local Baltimore high schools and then as college classmates. In the course of sharing these highly personal and entertaining stories, Lin Hart underscores the qualities and traits that began to emerge during this period of Lewis’s life, many of which would come to play a role in his future successes. Throughout what is clear is Lewis’s will to succeed, his supreme confidence, and his unrelenting pursuit to move beyond the ordinary to become extraordinary.
While some of these stories and reflections point up Lewis’s work ethic, respect for planning, and attention to detail, others demonstrate his capacity for dealing with adversity and challenges, whether that be responding to the loss of a football scholarship, or subjecting himself to the rituals of hazing as a Kappa Alpha Psi pledge. Equally considered is the fact that while he recognized the societal restrictions that limited options for African-Americans based simply on race, young Reginald refused to yield to them or to accept them as valid. It is a remarkable story that is in many ways encapsulated in Reginald F. Lewis’s favorite saying – "Keep going, no matter what."
Richly layered with motivational insight and lovingly told with honest integrity, Lin Hart’s "Reginald F. Lewis Before TLC Beatrice," is an extraordinary work of non-fiction that combines the best attributes of a personal memoir with the direct imperative of a self-help book. Drawing together good-spirited humor, a touch of nostalgia, and truly inspirational storytelling, this compelling new book holds up the exceptional life of Reginald F. Lewis as a model for young people everywhere and for anyone with ambition who seeks to achieve success at any level.