Diversity Woman Magazine

FALL 2013

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

Issue link: http://diversitywoman.epubxp.com/i/169650

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Page 50 of 71

I I know every aspect of 75 businesses and am CEO of five of them—and I don't think anybody ever writes about my intellect. make a living for her family. Soon, not only was she providing for her family, she was accumulating power and wealth as a result of her dedication and work ethic. But she was miserable. She was working 100 hours a week and was a single mother, having separated from her husband. She spent too little time with her daughter, Carly. Wall Street, with its brutal hours, locker-room mentality, and laser focus on proft, was disillusioning. "I really didn't love my life on Wall Street," she says. "So in 1990, I moved to Florida with my daughter, wanting her to have a better life than waiting for me in an apartment to get home from my 100-hour-a-week job. I thought I would build a life where she could be outside playing tennis and see more of her mother. Only I was not able to fnd a way to transfer my skill sets. So I began commuting back and forth [to New York]." In Florida, Tilton was introduced to Carlos Castaneda's Te Teachings of Don Juan. She embraced a form of mysticism (she says her ancestors were kabbalistic scholars) and started making plans to make radical changes in her life. "I thought once I made enough money, I would want to live a very diferent life away from Wall Street," she explains. "My dream was to be an island girl. But it turns out my destiny was to change the world." L ynn Tilton Fact Number 2: She believes it is her destiny to rescue American manufacturing. By 1998, Tilton had saved $10 million and decided it was time to retire. Ten she had a dream in which her father and her Mayan teacher told her she was going in the wrong direction, that her destiny was not to withdraw from the world, but to make life better for others. She got out of bed and returned to New York on the next fight. "It came to me that if I bought companies other people had thrown away, added value, and at the same time kept someone from losing a job and all the attendant destruction, that was a little bit of light I could create in the world," she says. di ve rs i tywoma n.com In 2000, Tilton formed Patriarch Partners. In the last 13 years, she has bought and revived more than 150 companies, including a pulp mill in Maine (that was converted into an alternative fuel plant), a helicopter maker, cosmetic companies, and a number of automotive companies. Tilton loves to buy and rebuild iconic American brands that have fallen from grace—companies like Rand McNally, Spiegel catalog, Stila Cosmetics, and even MD Helicopters, which was founded by Howard Hughes. Tilton considers these turnarounds not only her personal mission but a model for the revival of the economy. "Manufacturing is the future of our country—it's the only way you put people back to work here," she says. "Our future is built upon bringing technology and smart manufacturing to America, bringing outsourced manufacturing home. I believe with every cell of my being that we must be the maker of things in this country, and the greatest gift you can give a human being is the dignity of work." To that end, Tilton has become a vocal advocate of fair trade policies and of the U.S. government adopting policies that are more supportive of the country's manufacturers. L ynn Tilton Fact Number 3: She is not shy—but she is not social, either. Calling Tilton shy would be akin to calling Bill Clinton repressed. She has become famous for attending high-powered business meetings in fve-inch stilettos and leather dresses. She is known to speak her mind, but her idea of hell is a cocktail party. Speaking before a group of 5,000 with nary a note is easy. Walking a factory foor is exhilarating. Making small talk is neither. She is also known for her wicked sense of humor. One of Tilton's oft-quoted lines originated when she was meeting with the head of purchasing at one of the Big Tree auto manufacturers with whom she hoped to do business for her then recently purchased tier-one automotive supplier, Dura Automotive. She was asked, "Why should we think you're not simply a typical private equity investor who strips and fips companies?" Tilton replied, "You got it all wrong—it's only men that I strip and fip. My companies, I keep long and very close to my heart." Tilton is unapologetic, and she reveals that her public persona as a provocative, ball-busting billionaire is purposefully strategic. After all, it's easy to underestimate the person sitting across from you at the negotiating table when her lipstick screams hot pink and she is wearing more leather than Daniel Boone. "Have I turned some people of with the way I look?" she asks. "Absolutely. Has that made the press write more about Fa ll 2 0 1 3 DI VE R SIT Y W OMA N 49

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