Letters From Leaders

George Pyne, Bruin Sports Capital

George Pyne
Chief Executive Officer
Bruin Sports Capital

One of the people I most admire is Roger Penske, one of the great business leaders of our era. I read something he recently told a colleague that struck me, “The one thing I learned in life is everything’s an opportunity. No matter how bad it seems, everything is an opportunity, and if you look at it like that, everything’s going to be fine.” He said that as his company was dealing with the devastating challenges that the global pandemic has presented.

The words reminded me of why I have such respect for the man who played a critical role in my career. What he was saying, and what I have come to learn in my career, is that hidden within disruption and chaos are great opportunities. To capitalize, you need the right mindset and willingness to take the road less traveled. The path you were on was undoubtedly interrupted; this virus has changed humanity forever. Virtually every business sector is facing permanent change. However, this crisis will bring innovation and fundamental changes in how the global economy operates. And therein lies the opportunities which can potentially change your life.

My career began during a crisis. It was 1988, and straight out of college, I joined my family’s real estate business in Massachusetts. The sector was entering a run of 14 consecutive quarters of price declines, and some described it as a real estate industry depression. Immediately, I was on the front lines helping navigate the business through this. It wasn’t the way I had drawn up the start of my career. While incredibly challenging, the experience instilled many of the fundamental principles I still lean on, such as integrity, reliability, strategic thinking, the power of a smart business plan, working with people under stress, goal setting and rigorous evaluation against its progress and performance. These are what propelled me in my career further and faster than I could have imagined.

Eventually, it also inspired me to leave the family business and embark on a new professional journey. From Massachusetts, I relocated to Atlanta with almost no money. I agonized over the decision, but I had a feeling the area was coming on. I got my first big break working for the Chamber of Commerce to evaluate the City’s school budget and operations. From there, I was fortunate to work with some of the great entrepreneurs of our time, like Roger, Bill France, John Portman, and Ted Forstmann. Each role was new and a significant challenge and responsibility. I didn’t know how to drive a stick shift when Bill hired me to build NASCAR into an elite, mainstream sport. I was only 40 and hadn’t run a global business when Ted hired me at IMG – at the recommendation of Roger – to reinvent that business. Always, I drew upon the early days working with my father and the values it instilled in me. Today, they are the bedrock principles of Bruin Sports Capital, which I founded in 2015. I am proud to say many of the people who worked with me along the way are now with us at Bruin.

So as we all confront the challenge of our lifetime, even this can be an opportunity. Step back and look for the fresh snow. There will be opportunities for you. Have the courage to take the risk where others may not. It will reward you in ways you never imagined.

This is your moment.

George Pyne, Bruin Sports Capital