I’m as imperfect as the next guy, but I’ve tried my best to live by certain core values my whole life. These principles may sound simple, even simplistic. But they have helped ground me, in good times and bad:
- Work Hard.
- Don’t Let Your Possessions Define You.
- Be Nice To Others.
- Help The Helpless.
- Seek Justice For All.
Video: Tim Blixseth on Hometown Values
I’ve worked hard since I was a boy, from my first real job packing red-cedar shingles on the midnight shift in Roseburg, to the non-stop days when I was building the Yellowstone Club into the world’s most private and luxurious family resort. I suppose I learned that work ethic from my parents, first-generation Americans who provided for my sisters and me despite Dad’s chronic health problems.
Don’t Let Your Possessions Define You.
I’ve certainly enjoyed my fair share of possessions, but I’ve never let them define who I am. A television interviewer once asked me if he could call me “rich” in his program. I told him, “No, you can call me Tim.” Money and objects are wonderful, but we only rent them while we’re here on Earth. As we say in real estate, they don’t convey. Let your character define you, not your things. If you’re defined by your possessions, you are undefined. Today, I have a wonderful family. And I have found the love of my life, my wife Jessica. In that sense, yes, I guess I couldn’t be richer.
Be Nice To Others.
Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks gave me a unique perspective on how to treat other people, especially the everyday working men and women who make up America. They deserve our respect and kindness, and I try to treat all folks the same way I’d treat a high-flying CEO. I’ll never forget the boys in school who would tease and humiliate me just because I was from a poor family and accepted “welfare lunches” at school. More than 20 years later, when I bought a big lumberyard in Roseburg, I hired several of those same hecklers as my employees. I always treated them with respect–even though those lunchroom scenes are still embedded in my memory.
Help The Helpless.
My family needed a helping hand in the 1950s, and I’ve never forgotten the many small gestures of kindness people showed to us in Oregon way back when. I’ve tried to reciprocate my whole adult life. With financial success comes responsibility, and I’ve tried to do my part—building hundreds of homes for the homeless after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, holding countless fundraisers for local charities and donating reward funds to find the murderous “Beltway Snipers” who killed 10 innocent people in the Washington, DC, area in 2002.
Seek Justice For All.
When I was growing up in the projects in Roseburg, one of the Federal Housing Administration managers who collected our rent somehow “forgot” to forward our monthly payment to the government. It turns out he needed some extra cash, and now my family was in default. I’ll never forget how my mother barged into the manager’s office, past his secretary, and exposed his criminal behavior. We were poor, but justice was on our side… and our rent money was returned. Today, as I face my own legal battles in the wake of the Yellowstone Club bankruptcy, I’m often reminded of my mother’s courage and the justice we received. That’s the America I remember, where justice is blind. The notions of liberty and equal justice for all are what makes this country great. After Hurricane Katrina, I wrote a song called “The Heart of America.” Eric Benet, Michael McDonald and Wynonna Judd performed it, and it raised money for the victims of Katrina. The lyrics inspire me and still hold true today:“It’s the heart of America, the soul of you and me. No matter what we’ve been through, what we hold to be true is this promise of liberty.”