Culture / Entertainment

Tilman Fertitta Reveals Plenty in His New Book — Your Early Sneak Peek at Texas Tycoon’s Surprise Stories

Billionaire in Brief

BY // 08.20.19

Houston billionaire Tilman Fertitta’s new book includes a list of blurbs that might make Shakespeare himself blush. Tom Brady, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, junk bond wizard Michael Milken, basketball pioneer Yao Ming and astronaut Scott Kelly all offer praise before you even get to the real start of the brisk 167-page read. This who’s who of power players is further expanded on at the end of the book with seven more pages of notable figures giving their glowing assessments (and Fertitta reflecting on them) in a section titled “The Tilman I Know.”

This is among the most compelling material in Fertitta’s Shut Up and Listen! — which is no knock on the practical advice the mega tycoon dishes out in-between. Fertitta’s command to “Be Plappy” — to play happy at work no matter what is going on in your personal life is classic Tilman. His “there are no spare customers” mantra and his rants about servers who fail to bring a napkin with a drink drive home his philosophies.

But Kelly talking about the time they were out at a fancy spot and Tilman caught the bartender not serving them full shots by just looking at the pour reveals even more. As does University of Houston president Renu Khator detailing how Fertitta kept texting her to get updated on a UH student who tried to commit suicide.

Shut Up and Listen! is Fertitta’s first book, but it’s unlikely to be his last. The owner of the Landry’s hospitality empire, the Houston Rockets and casinos galore seems to be dipping his toe in with this business advice book, telling few personal stories.

The nuggets he does share can be golden. Like the fact that he switched watches with his lawyer Steve Scheinthal before going into a 1980s meeting with bankers he needed to ask for relief from because he felt that a guy “wearing a little Seiko watch” would engender more sympathy than someone wearing the fancy gold Rolex that usually adorns his wrist.

This isn’t Tilman Fertitta baring his soul, but he shares some — with a wink.

Including having to put up $100 million that was nonrefundable to even be considered to buy the Houston Rockets — something he did even though he admits to being unsure at the time if he could attain the necessary financing f0r what turned into a record-smashing $2.2 billion purchase price. Or  his early doubts — yes, Tilman Fertitta had doubts (or at least, wonders) — on whether he’d ever own a company that did $10 million in sales.

Fertitta’s horror at randomly stopping a room service cart at his posh five star Post Oak Hotel  and finding the lamest hamburger presentation he’s ever seen isn’t just instructive. It’s entertaining.

Sure, this is a business advice book published by powerhouse HarperCollins. But it also brings enough Tilman to be interesting whether you consider yourself the next Mark Zuckerberg or more of a character who would show up in a Seth Rogen movie.

Fertitta knows how to keep an audience.

Shut Up and Listen! will be released September 17th by HarperCollins, it’s available in preorder.

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