It was 1971, and four recent University of Texas graduates decided to start an advertising agency in Austin, Texas — then a funky little college town known primarily for hippies and armadillos. Roy Spence was one of them. He went down to the bank to borrow $5,000 and the loan officer asked, “What is your business plan?” Roy was frozen and then finally said, “Well let’s see. We want to stay together, stay in Austin, make a difference and some money, too.” He got the loan. 45 years later, Roy and his partners are still together, still in Austin, still trying to make a difference and make a little money, too. Roy signs every letter with the words, “Ride at Dawn.” That’s not just a sign-off, it’s a three-word manifesto — a call to action to live life to its fullest.
Roy and his partners built GSD&M into a marketing, advertising and idea machine. Flying with Herb Kelleher, founder of SWA. Riding with Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart. Driving with BMW and The PGA TOUR. Plowing with John Deere. Defending freedom with the United States Air Force. Donating time and talent to create compelling Public Service Awareness ads to mobilize good will to help people in the moments that matter the most like Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti and recently the terrible floods in Baton Rouge.
Roy’s passion is entrepreneurship, which he refers to as “the miracle of America.” He deeply believes that when America is at her best it does not matter what your last name or zip code is. If you can Dream it, you can Build it. Roy is also Co-Founder and CEO of The Purpose Institute which is also home based in Austin, Texas and is singularly passionate and focused on discovering the Core Values that define and shape an organization’s culture and the Core Purpose that captures the difference an organization makes in the world. Our purpose is to help organizations and leaders discover and fulfill their purpose. Along with Haley Rushing, Roy co-authored the Wall Street Journal bestselling book, “It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For: Why Every Extraordinary Business is Driven by Purpose.” And, more recently he authored “The 10 Essential Hugs of Life,” a collection of heartwarming stories about the need for gratitude and love.
Roy is also a Gallup Senior Adviser as Gallup’s expert on Purpose and champion of Clifton’s Strength Movement. Over 14 million people here and around the world have taken Clifton’s Strengths Finder assessment, all in the effort to help people everywhere discover and then play to their strengths in work and life.
Recognition American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame, named “Adman of the Century” by Texas Monthly magazine, Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Texas at Austin, The University of Texas McCombs School of Business Hall of Fame, Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation board member.