Thomas Kivisto is a prominent entrepreneur and owner of Lakeshore Energy Capital – a California-based business focused on investing in start-ups in the oil, real estate, and technology sectors. After graduating with honors from the University of Kansas in 1974, Thomas began his career at Koch Oil in Wichita , Kansas where he was eventually promoted to Executive Vice President. In this role, he expanded his leadership capacity and oversaw more than fifteen acquisitions. Today, Thomas Kivisto manages six different entities including Lakeshore Energy Capital. When he is not working, he is volunteering and is considered an active member of his local community.
How have you achieved success?
After assuming several roles in the oil industry, I eventually had the knowledge and experience to pursue my own venture. Lakeshore Energy Capital (LEC) invests primarily in start-ups with a focus on the oil, real estate, and technology sectors. Unlike many other firms, we are not limited by traditional deal structures or holding periods. Instead, we take on a very entrepreneur-friendly approach by investing in both public and private companies. I am so proud of how far we have come, and I look forward to our continued expansion.
What obstacles have you overcome in the process?
Those who want to be successful in the business landscape need to realize that there will always be a problem to solve. It is how you choose to solve those issues that will ultimately define your success.
For example, when I was first starting out, one of my biggest challenges was my initial reliance on major banking systems whose interests did not necessarily align with the interests of our customers. Now we rely mostly on private equity as opposed to traditional lending services.
What drives you to succeed?
I would have to say the idea that I am making a significant difference in the lives of current business owners. We at Lakeshore Energy Capital value innovation, and we are always looking for a new and exciting opportunity to invest. The world is changing exponentially, so it is important to always look ahead to the future.
How has your definition of success changed over the years?
Success is often measured by significant accomplishments, but I like to measure success on the daily. I work with a team of industry-leading individuals who have all worked hard to get our company to where it is today. I learnt early on that success is not just about landing huge deals, it is also about finding the right people and developing ideas. I do my best to set small measurable goals and I take it day by day.
What has success meant to you?
To me, success is the opportunity to pursue professional paths that are highly rewarding. After completing my post-secondary education, I worked several jobs that did not allow me to move forward professionally. I was underpaid and underappreciated. In 1993, I finally left a position that I had put fourteen years into. While it was stressful at the time, I consider it a learning opportunity. Starting fresh is never easy, but overcoming professional challenges often requires you to step outside your comfort zone.
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