Nice Guy Finishes First: The Back Story – Before the Cars


Joseph Levy, Jr., Chairman of Levy Venture Management

We’ll have a special three-part series for Joe’s back story – there is just too much history to condense his 80 years into 300 words. 

Joe’s Grandfather sold cars, and so did Joe’s Dad, and Joe started working at the family dealership while still in school, but Joe had career ideas outside of cars.   He had met up with James Lipton , ofInside the Actor’s Studio fame when they were serving together in the US Air Force in the 40s, and he planned to go on to New York with Lipton to work in theater after his discharge.  When he told his father of the plan, his father said, “I didn’t know you were twins, because no one person can be that stupid.”  I asked Joe if that was a crushing comment for him, and he shrugged it off, saying, “not really.”  What would be a stumbling block for some, was fuel for the fire for Joe.

Joe was double promoted in his crowded grade school and started high school at 12 years old, a plus for the scholastically capable young man, but there was a distant social gap between Joe and his 14 and 15 year old classmates.  It was the one of the first but not the last social obstacles that Joe had to overcome.  His Levy name badge in the Air Force lead to anti-Semitic remarks and discord, which was overcome when a friend made him a “Jones” nametag.  His new nickname “Jonesy” stuck with him throughout the rest of his Air Force career.

What are your entrepreneurial stories?  Did you get encouragement or discouragement from friends and relatives?  Leave us a comment and let us know your story.

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