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When he was sixteen years old, Larry Miller came home one\r\rsummer night to find all his possessions sitting in three bags\r\ron the porch of his darkened house. The door was locked.
From those troubled and humble beginnings rose a man\r\rwhose influence has touched, according to reliable pollsters,\r\rmore than 99 percent of the population of Utah as well as\r\rmyriads of people worldwide.
Seven months before Miller passed away, he began working\r\rwith Doug Robinson on this biography. Written in first\r\rperson, the book talks about the many facets of Larry_ã_s life and\r\rlegacy and speaks candidly about the people and experiences\r\rthat influenced him. It doesn_ã_t just tell Larry Miller_ã_s story,\r\rit shares lessons — painful as well as joyful lessons — he has\r\rlearned from his experiences. This fascinating and inspiring\r\rbiography includes:
- A moving foreword by Utah Jazz great John Stockton\r\r
- An epilogue written by Gail Miller, Larry_ã_s wife\r\r
- Numerous photographs\r\r
- A firsthand look at the incredible breadth of Larry\r\rMiller_ã_s work and contributions — in business, in sports,\r\rin the arts, in his support of the Joseph Smith Papers\r\rProject, as well as his personal humanitarian service\r\r
- A full section addressing the question Larry was most\r\roften asked: _ã–How_ã_d you do it?_ã�
- Hardcover: 6x9
- Pages: 384
- Book on CD: Unabridged
- Published: 2010
- Running Time: Approx. 9.75 hours
- Number of Discs: 8
About the Authors
Doug Robinson is a columnist and feature writer for the Deseret Morning News, where he has worked since graduating from Utah State University in 1978. Doug has written many columns on sports personalities and events over the years. He is the author of Trials and Triumphs: Mormons in the Olympic Games. He and his wife, Lori, have three children.
I can remember precisely the moment my life changed forever. I had an epiphany one morning, and nearly every detail of that moment is burned into the hard drive of my brain. It was March 1971, and I was at work, managing the parts department at a Toyota dealership in Colorado. I had just taken a 21-line Corolla crash parts order over the phone from a body shop, and I was checking to see what parts I had in stock when, like a bucket of cold water, it hit me.
Here I was, soon to be 27 years old, married, with two children and one on the way, and I was responsible for raising and supporting those children, providing food and shelter and college and housing and much more, while preparing for old age and retirement, and I realized I had nothing to fall back on. I had no college education, no special training. All I had was my energy and whatever talent I had been blessed with.
It scared me. The feeling was so overwhelming that I stopped what I was doing to ponder the matter.
I decided I had to be extremely good at something, and the thing I was best at was being a Toyota parts manager. That night I worked until 10:00. It was the start of my 90-hour-a-week work schedule. From that moment on, I began working from 7:30 in the morning until 9, 10, or 11 at night, six days a week. I did this for 20 years.
Reasoning that other dealers had the same parts and roughly the same prices to offer, I believed service and hustle were the things that would set me apart. I would simply outwork them. I would become so good that I could not be denied. I was obsessed with doing everything I could do and accomplishing as much as I could. It was difficult for me to go home with work undone. I wanted it to be done for the next day. A lot of people go through the motions with little sense of urgency; I had an extreme sense of urgency. A body shop would call and order 21 parts; I’d pull, pick, and price them in 15 or 20 minutes. If I could find only 19 parts, I was ticked off. If I was five minutes late, I was upset because I had created a system that wasn’t more responsive. I became a student of everything—
ordering systems, delivery systems, hiring practices, training practices, retention practices. I decided I had to be incredible in all facets so that I could control the outcome. I needed to become the best.
Well, I wasn’t just good at delivering service and parts; I was world-class. I wanted parts delivered five minutes ago. I was a quarterback, running the two-minute offense. It produced results. When I started, the store was averaging $6,500 a month in parts sales, or $78,000 a year. In my first month on the job, sales jumped to $13,000 and increased every single month for 28 months. The parts department grew so big that the dealership didn’t have room to store all the parts, so we bought houses around the dealerships and stored them there. In my second full year on the job, we became the first Toyota dealer in the U.S. to sell a million dollars’ worth of parts in one year, an average of more than $83,000 a month—which was more than the dealership had done previously in an entire year. We were the highest volume Toyota parts dealer in the nation. We wound up selling parts in 39 states, including Alaska and Maine. We had a map on the ceiling of the parts department, and every time we’d sell parts to a new place, we’d put a pin in the map. Pretty soon that map was filled with pins. Because of my performance, I was promoted to general manager of the Toyota store dealership, and eventually operations manager over five dealerships.
I begin my story this way because it is a useful backdrop for any discussion of my life. It colors so much of what I did and so much of what happened to me. It was central to everything, whether it was working as a deliveryman or building a private business or growing into an entrepreneur or buying the Jazz or, I’m sorry to say, neglecting my family to do all of the above.
I worked and worked and worked, day after day, night after night, dawn to bedtime. I was driven to succeed, and the way I did that was the way I do everything—I overpower problems with work.
I had always been an unusually intense, single-minded person anyway, and the fear I experienced on that March morning in 1971 only added more fuel to that determination. This drive was evident even in my early years. When I was a boy, we played marbles. Not just playground marbles, but serious tournament marbles. I went to great lengths to practice and hone my skill. I hiked up Capitol Hill behind my house to the police rifle range and gathered brass shell casings of all sizes—hundreds of them. I arranged the shells upright in ten rows the width of my room, with the biggest shells—the 2½-inch 30.06 casings—placed in the back row some 30 feet away, and the smaller .22-caliber shells in the front row. Then I shot at the shells with marbles until I had knocked down all of them. It took accuracy and power to knock shells down from that distance, especially since the marble had to go over or through other shells to get to the big shells in the back row. I did this every day for three years. I won the school marble championship and finished second in the city championship.
One day while teaching an entrepreneurial class at BYU, I was telling students that whatever we learn through hard work and dedication will remain with us throughout our lives and benefit us in ways we can’t foresee. To make my point, I pulled a marble out of my pocket and pointed to a young man sitting in the last row, on the fourth tier of a four-tiered classroom. I told him that even though I hadn’t shot a marble in 30 years, I could hit him between the eyes. I flicked the marble with my thumb and it struck him between the eyes. It was a lucky shot, but I made my point.
The dedication to marbles seems to have been the earliest manifestation of my intensity and passion for success. I remember this: I decided as a very young kid that being mediocre is no fun. That drove me to do what I had to do to succeed. In my teens I turned that passion toward softball. I practiced pitching every day for years, even if it meant digging a foothold in snow and ice—but I will save that story for another chapter.
I don’t know why I’m wired like this. I guess it’s the thrill of success, the thrill of the hunt, the high of achievement and competition. Initially, after the epiphany, the insanely long hours that I worked were driven by fear, as I have mentioned, but then the success became intoxicating. Clearly, my motivation to work like that shifted from fear-driven to success-driven. And it was fun doing it. It was fun being as good at it as I was. Later, as an entrepreneur, I discovered that I could put together deals and financing that most people in my financial position at that time wouldn’t have been able to do.
I thrived on work and on the details. Instead of delegating, as I should have, I dived into the minutia of every project we undertook. Even amid the great concerns about deadlines and costs and architectural issues when we were building the Delta Center, I was involved in every aspect of the project, even the window blinds and the type of concrete block we would use. I drove around town for hours trying to find a building that used a certain type of concrete block before finding it at the airport. I had to get security clearance just to look at that concrete. I worked for weeks to research what type of trees we should plant in front of the arena. I bought books on the subject; I consulted several horticulturists. I drove around town to see what various trees looked like when they were mature. (Ultimately, I chose to plant flowering pear trees in front of the arena because when they’re planted a certain distance apart they grow together and form a canopy about 35 feet above the ground. The canopy provides shade in the summer and a beautiful treetop view for people looking out of the fifth floor of the arena.) I became an expert on trees.
What CEO of a billion-dollar company does this?
I was that intense about everything. We built dozens of buildings, and I was the one deciding the floor plan and the paint and the color of the carpet and so forth. I could have delegated these jobs to any of our thousands of employees, but I took pleasure in the details; I liked to make sure it was done right. I liked the sense of accomplishment and learning new things. Each time I took on a new project, I immersed myself in some new field and became expert at it. I can tell you the craziest things, such as how many Christmas lights it takes to decorate a tree in front of the arena or how many yards of concrete we poured to build that building.
In the arena project—initally named the Delta Center, but now known as EnergySolutions Arena—I attended daily meetings with architects and learned the trade as much as I could. I became pretty knowledgeable, too. During those meetings, I requested that certain things be done with the construction of the building, and architects would tell me they couldn’t be done. I’d tell them, “If you look at your drawings and reconfigure your plans, I think you’ll see that it can be done.” The next day the architects would show up for another meeting and report, “You know what, you’re right.”
I liked that. I liked the simple enjoyment of learning, which I am sure is amusing to my former schoolteachers, whom I tortured daily with my class behavior and refusal to do homework.
People have asked me why I am like this, and how and why I have done the things I have done. It is probably some combination of genetics and the collected experiences of my formative years that made me yearn for success and achievement. Perhaps a couple of traumatic events, combined with the tenuousness and anxiety of my youth, have played a bigger role in shaping me than even I realize, because I have continually turned those things over in my mind all these years later and tried to make sense of them, and there I have failed.
Remarkable read. Loved it!
by Customer - reviewed on July 12, 2010
Larry Miller's story is not what I was expecting. It's not about what he accomplished but about the man he became. Great read includes insight into a personal life. I would recommend it to anyone. I'm giving it away as a b-day present to my friend. Larry loved people and showed it well.
Very Very Interesting
by Customer - reviewed on May 05, 2010
This book is way better than I thought. I found the stories and experiences that reflected his personality and person, truly fascinating. Larry Miller was a remarkable man. Each time I would read, I found it harder and harder to put down. This is really one of those books that you've just got to read.
My New Inspiration
by DD - reviewed on August 06, 2010
I have never met Larry H. Miller, but I've grown to love and appreciate him for all that his done. I had no idea the extent of his influence. His life has tremendously impacted mine. I am inspired to wake up earlier, work harder and longer each day, serve people, and live the gospel. I tell everyone about his life and book. It's been a long time since I've been inspired, and this book ignited my determination to be Driven!!
A candid book - I didn't really know this guy
by Leigh - reviewed on May 05, 2010
After years of hearing all the ads, I really thought I knew Larry H. Miller. Turns out I didn't. After reading Driven, I saw so many other sides to the man I knew as a car salesman and owner of the Utah Jazz. His passion and drive pushed him through everything in life. I ended up learning a lot by reading about Mr. Miller. He knew the only thing he had to give was his work ethic, and decided he would flat out work harder than everyone else to achieve success. Now, I'm not sure I am ready to put in 60 hour work weeks, but I could push myself a little harder. The thing that touched me most about the book, however, was learning about his dear wife, Gail. What a trooper. She is one amazing woman. Read the epilogue. You won't regret it.
appreciate the honesty
by Kim - reviewed on May 14, 2010
I will buy the book, not only for my husband to read (workaholic), but for myself to know I'm not the only wife waiting for my husband to "come Home" after 25 yrs. of marriage & 5 children. It's always from one crisis & deadline to another, but work seems to override our lives. The children grow up & move on. Positive attitude is so critical to making it all work- somehow if not for ourselves, but for the children, and then wait to see what is left over for ourselves.
The most compelling biography I've read in several years.
by Customer - reviewed on May 05, 2010
I cannot say enough good about this book! It's a fascinating and candid look at a really remarkable man. While I've always admired Larry Miller, I never met him. As I read this book, I realized I'd had almost no idea of the breadth of his influence. There are fascinating chapters about his experience with the Jazz and his involvement in the movie business, but also information about the reasons he supported the Joseph Smith Papers Project, and about some of his private humanitarian service projects. I liked that fact that the book is realistic. It doesn't try to make Miller appear as a saint (though I certainly came away admiring the man). He says, in effect, "Here's how I did it, here's what I learned--and here's what it cost me." He doesn't shy away from talking about some painful lessons he learned. But it's more than a business book. Miller talks about the impact of the gospel in his life, about the importance of family, and about the importance of keeping your word. I particularly liked John Stockton's foreword, Doug Robinson's introduction, and Gail Miller's moving epilogue. Those chapters are worth the price of the book alone, but the whole book kept my interest. I felt I really got to know Larry Miller, and reading about him made me want to be a better person. This is the most unusual--and compelling--biography I've read in several years.
Fabulous, and not what I expected
by Ryan - reviewed on May 10, 2010
This book is really touching, in ways I didn't expect. I have lived most of my life outside of Utah and am not a Jazz follower but found the portrait really engrossing. I was expecting to read about Miller's successes and local empire (of which I'm only vaguely familiar) but was pleasantly surprised at how honest, humble, personal, and -- ultimately -- touching the tone of the book was. Kudos to Miller for being so accessible and open about both the blessings and the regrets of his own life. I would recommend this book for both men and women, inside or outside of Utah. I knew next to nothing about Larry Miller prior to reading this -- and regardless of your interest in his businesses, as a character study this really stands alone on its depth and sincerity.
insight from the excerpt
by Donald - reviewed on June 02, 2010
I just wanted to relate a little on his attitude at school. It was about the second year of middle school that I stopped paying attention in class. I was influenced by my surroundings.I could only go into further detail about it in person. The beginning of high school I felt that it was a reputation I was committed to and continued to deny the right thing. I was expelled every year of high school, a lot like Bro Miller. The staff didn't want to see me or deal with me. Detention and in school suspension wouldn't let me in. I felt that the principal was inspired when he sent the young Brother Miller off on expulsion with a subject to research. You have to ask yourself, what was the reasoning behind this project?
by Customer - reviewed on September 09, 2010
Well written; great authorship. I have recommended this book to all I know. A friend wanted to tell me about a book. Without telling me the title, he started by telling me it was the great book--the best he had ever read. At that, I said "Larry Miller!", and I was right. I read the book in three nights before my wife gave it to her father for Father's Day. Great book. It needs more than five stars.
Unbelievable & Amazing Book!!!
by Customer - reviewed on January 18, 2011
I just finished listening to this book on CD while commuting to and from work. This was so amazing! Many times I had to wipe away tears while driving. It was such an inspiration to hear about his incredible experiences and what a big heart this man had. What a wonderful legacy he has left. So glad I had the opportunity to learn about his life. Wonderfully written! HH