Tom Golisano - In His Own Words

"The only wealth you get to keep is the wealth you give away." *

TomGolisano in Front of Paychex Headquarters

"I think working for somebody else is a bigger risk than having your own venture. You can be a success, but that company could fail or that department could fail. You can’t sell that company or give it to your children. It’s riskier. The notion of cradle-to-grave security working for large companies is past-tense. It doesn’t exist anymore." Gulfshore Life, Nov 2010

"I think it's real tough for anybody to go out and start a business in a world he knows nothing about." Inc. Nov, 2001

"Without economic strength, you don't have freedom." Inc, 1992

"Maybe Wall Street does look over your shoulder, but that presence--you can almost use the word pressure--adds a level of structure and discipline that's beneficial. It helps you advance without making mistakes. And since we're in the public trust, I don't see why that's bad." Inc 1997

Even if we weren't public, I would manage this way. The pressure helps to keep you focused and disciplined. It continually reminds you that being efficient is just as important as being effective. When CEOs whine about Wall Street, they're really saying they want unlimited resources without being held accountable for them. That's not healthy for any business, public or private." Inc. Sept 1991

"We are so reactive and not proactive as a country. I'm frustrated by that. There are some basic problems in this country we have not faced up to. I'm talking about a burgeoning lower class, the graying of the work force, the lack of competitiveness in certain manufacturing areas. We are headed for a long-term downward economic spiral unless we can change these things." Inc. 1992

"I came up with a concept for a new product--nobody in payroll processing in those days was doing payroll tax returns as part of their service. But ideas are hard to sell," says Golisano. His start-up cash--$3,000--lasted about six weeks. "Then I used credit cards, I took out consumer loans, and I fudged. I sent out several thousand pieces of direct mail. My nieces and nephews licked the envelopes at night." It took nearly five years to attract those 300 customers, during which time Golisano went without a paycheck himself. Inc. 1997

"I went to executives at Electronic Accounting Systems with my plan. They looked at me and said, 'We don't think it's a good idea.' I sat on the idea for about two more months. Then I walked into the president's office one more time and said, "What do you think?" He said no. I said, "Well, I'm going to leave and start a company." It was November 1970. I was 29. He wished me well, sort of." CNN, 2003

"The reward comes from hearing people say, 'Thanks, you put my kid through school." Inc. 1997

“There is nothing more noble than taking care of children.” Florida Weekly, 2012

“Having these tablets produced in Buffalo is yet another sign that American workers can compete with anyone in the world.” RBJ 2015

"There have been a number of keys to our success, some by choice and some by chance. We picked a great marketplace. We were a pioneer in payroll processing for very small companies. And we had the perseverance and good fortune enough to stick it out. The market is huge and continues to grow." CNN, 2003

"If the person does not have a clear delineation of facts, particularly numbers, I can tell if they’re not being truthful." Forbes 2008

“It wasn’t the business model that was difficult for us, it was managing the growth and managing the people and creating the right combination of equity versus employer-employee relationship and all that." RBJ 2004

“Some have said the disability rights movement is the last of the civil rights, and I don’t know if there is a ‘last’ but it’s time has certainly come and the voices of self-advocates are getting stronger. The Golisano Foundation is playing its part in that by supporting agencies and initiatives that are committed to inclusion.” RBJ, Oct 2015

"It is imperative that we accelerate strategies to promote a sustainable society and ensure future generations the opportunity to address their own needs." RIT Golisano School of Sustainability

“Six months before I agreed to buy them, I swore I’d never own a sports team. But no one stepped up to the plate for this community. That was my motivation.” Forbes Nov 2006

"There's a lot of naïveté in the nonprofit community about replacing government money with donations from the private sector. Nonprofit leaders get frustrated when they can't get the funding. I know they're under a lot ofpressure, but they have to appreciate the kind of pressures faced by the businesses they're counting on for support." Inc. 1994

"From a fiscal perspective, I would consider myself to be most conservative. On other issues I'm fairly moderate. ...It's very hard to put me under a label. I think I try to make objective decisions based on the issue." Newsweek 2002

Tom Golisano - In the Words of Others

"He’s influenced me in a number of ways. He has a great business mind and breaks everything down to the simplest numbers and has a great knack for trying to look at problems that way. It’s a great lesson for anyone in business who has complicated issues, to take it and make it as simple an issue as you can." RBJ, Martin Mucci, CEO, Paychex, 2015

"Tom’s financial support to Special Olympics, which has exceeded any single contributor in the 50-year history of the organization, has served as a catalyst to grow this global movement as a force for positive social change and inclusion, improving over the years the health of countless athletes around the world. His investments in both time and money to the cause of intellectual disabilities has no parallel, and we are immensely grateful for his continued support." Timothy Shriver, Chairman, Special Olympics, Golisano Archives Exhibit Opening RIT, 2017

"If I have good health I can do anything. I can contribute to my community. Mr. Golisano what you have done for our community, for our athletes around the world to get better health care, is phenomenal. When you have healthy people, you have a strong community." Loretta Claiborne, Chief Inspiration Officer, Special Olympics, Sep 2012

"Looking at Tom’s life, it becomes clear that kindness is a combination of the ability to see a need, the compassion to want to do something about that need, and then giving your all to address that need." Hanna Atkinson, Special Olympic International Health Messenger, Channel Kindness, 2018

"Through the growth and success of Healthy Communities, the Golisano name is becoming synonymous with improving health disparities and increasing access to quality care - from remote towns to major cities in all corners of the world." Mary Davis, Special Olympics CEO, 2016

"Mr. Golisano researches his beneficiaries thoroughly and chooses them carefully, and we are deeply honored to be chosen as a recipient of his generosity — and this is an honor I, personally, will always cherish." Jim Nathan, Lee Health CEO, 2012

"Tom for the most part wants to make transformational gifts, things that move the ball down the field in a meaningful way. We didn’t have a college of computing before this and now have what is arguably the biggest in the country. There wasn’t an institute of sustainability anywhere else in the world, and now we have one." WIlliam Destler, President, RIT, RBJ, Jul 2010

"He’s been a good friend for many years, and when they say lead by example, I don’t think anyone leads better than Tom Golisano when it comes to philanthropy.,” Mike Smith, Cabot Group CEO, RBJ 2015

“Philanthropy itself is changing, and Tom is probably the epitome of the new philanthropist. Years ago the goal was to give money away, to find a charity worth your support, give them a grant and your job was done. Now it’s more about solving problems, and giving away money is the last step, not the first one.” Ann Costello, Golisano Foundation Director, RBJ 2015

"Tom Golisano has done more for Al Sigl than anyone dared dream at our founding 53 years ago. His mark on our work together transforms our collaboration for even greater inclusion and abilities.” Daniel Meyers, Al Sigl Community lof Agencies president, RBJ 2015

“We are extremely grateful for Mr. Golisano’s generosity and support of our institution. His gift, and the wonderful new facility that it helped fund, will enable Rochester General to continue to meet the needs of a growing patient population … It’s clearly another example of the wonderful spirit of philanthropy and love for community that Tom consistently demonstrates.” Mark Clement, Rochester General Health System, president and CEO, RBJ 2009

“I commend our team of health professionals for their success, and I thank Tom Golisano and our community for their generous support of our programs. The combination of community support, superb care, and academic excellence has enabled Golisano Children’s Hospital to achieve recognition as one of the very best children’s hospitals in the U.S.” Bradford C. Berk, M.D., URMC CEO MP News 2012

“Tom stands by what he believes in and what’s more, he ignites a spark of passion in those around him. To Golisano Children’s Hospital and the Finger Lakes Region, Tom Golisano is and always will be the quintessential ‘Miracle Maker’.” Scott Rasmussen, director of Advancement at Golisano Children’s Hospital, 2012

* paraphrasing the quote of Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome, "The only wealth which you will keep forever is the wealth you have given away."