The title Eddie C. Brown chose for his recently released autobiography, Beating the Odds, serves as an apt description of his rise in the highly competitive financial services arena, especially considering his start as a moonshine runner in the back roads of sleepy Apopka, Florida. He’s now CEO of Baltimore-based Brown Capital Management L.L.C., a BE 100s money manager with $3.2 billion in assets under management that competes against some of Wall Street’s leading investment firms.
Brown, an industry trailblazer who became the first African American money manager at leading investment firm T. Rowe Price in the 1970s and early 1980s and one of the top panelists on the renowned Wall $treet Week with Louis Rukeyser television program for about 25 years, launched his firm in 1983. Today, Brown Capital is the second oldest black asset manager in the U.S. (Ariel Investment preceded Brown Capital by six months.) Over the past three decades, the 70-year-old stock picker nonpareil has developed a series of top-performing mutual funds on the basis of his investment philosophy: GARP (growth at a reasonable price). He’s also helped diversify the financial services sector by hiring and mentoring minority portfolio managers.
Chosen as this year’s recipient of black enterprise’s prestigious A.G. Gaston Lifetime Achievement Award for his business contributions, Brown has always been motivated to give back. He and his wife of 49 years, Sylvia, have used their fortune to become a philanthropic force, donating more than $22 million over the past 15 years to an array of charities to advance the arts, improve healthcare in impoverished communities, and increase educational opportunities for black youth. Throughout his career, Brown has also served as a mentor for young investment professionals and entrepreneurs. Through excerpts from his book and an exclusive interview, he shares six lessons that can help entrepreneurs achieve business longevity.