Kovas Teaches That Luck Is Not Blind

By Neil Gonzales

Kovas Teaches that Luck Is Not Blind

Ron Kovas addresses Menlo College students, faculty, staff, trustees, and alumni at the annual SBA Day.

November 30, 2012

Ron Kovas believes in luck. In fact, he credits a lot of it for his long and successful career in business.

But it’s not mere blind luck that he’s talking about.  

“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity,” said Kovas, the owner and principal of the business-consulting firm Venture Management Partners. “I don’t believe in luck in any other way.”

Kovas, who also teaches marketing and advertising at Menlo College, served as the keynote speaker at the Annual School of Business Administration (SBA) Day on Nov. 14 on campus.

SBA Day celebrates Menlo’s focus on business education. The event seeks to increase interaction between students and the business community. It also exposes students to current business issues and gives them insight into finding success in their future careers.

During breakfast in the Dining Hall, Kovas explained to the audience of students, faculty, staff, trustees and alumni how luck came his way through perseverance and old-fashioned hard work.   

“To be successful, you need three things: persistence, persistence, persistence,” he said. “Don’t give up. You got to show up.”

That’s certainly what he has done throughout his career, shooting him to top leadership positions at the major advertising firm JWT, the iconic lifestyle magazine Sunset and other enterprises.

As an account supervisor with JWT early in his career, he got noticed for being a trusted employee who could deliver results promptly.

He was still largely inexperienced at the time, but his boss offered him an expanded role in the company overseeing a bigger budget and staff than what Kovas had handled previously.

Kovas described that moment as one of the lucky breaks he has had in his career.

His boss told him, “We’re convinced you can learn the job.” Kovas did so and flourished in his new role.

Then, another big opportunity came when he was offered the general manager’s position at JWT’s San Francisco office.

The new assignment, however, looked to be a daunting challenge because the office was plagued by internal turmoil and other issues.

His friends warned him that taking that post appeared to be a no-win proposition. But Kovas told them, “No, it is a no-lose proposition. I can’t screw it up. It’s already screwed up.”

So he became the fifth manger in six years at that office and proceeded to turn it around by hiring good people and improving operations. The office landed key accounts such as Chevron and saw revenues grow.

His quality work and reputation for fixing troubled accounts and offices just opened up other opportunities for him within JWT, and Kovas eventually became a president and CEO. Later, Kovas served as president for the Sunset Publishing Corp. and other companies.

Kovas’ career path illustrates that if one is prepared and seen as a good worker “rewards come to you,” he told his audience.

Concluding his speech, Kovas said, “There are three kinds of people – those who make things happen, those who wonder what happens and those who watch what happens. Be someone who makes things happen.”

Academic Dean Dale Hockstra praised Kovas’ speech and message.

“I really enjoyed his comment that luck is being prepared for opportunities that appear,” Hockstra said. “If we can convince students to give 100 percent all the time and use the college as a training ground, they’ll be successful.”

Kovas’ speech was followed by several breakout sessions across campus that covered topics from the so-called fiscal cliff involving a troubled federal budget to mini business plans.

“We try to provide a series of events and activities to get beyond the classes and tests,” Hockstra said. “We try to bring outside individuals to connect with the Menlo community and get their insights. SBA Day is also a small way to reconnect with our alumni.”