Isaac Tigrett
Hard Rock Café founder Isaac Tigrett illustrates a point during the keynote address at Goizueta’s annual UBSLC. Photo: Tony Benner

In conjunction with the 15th Annual Undergraduate Business School Leadership Conference (UBSLC), Goizueta Business School welcomed keynote speaker Isaac Tigrett, co-founder of The Hard Rock Café and creator of The House of Blues, to campus on Thursday, February 6.

The student run UBSLC, previously hosted by corporations such as GMAC, Goldman Sachs, Deloitte and The Home Depot, provides a forum for  undergraduate BBA students from top business schools around the world to gain valuable leadership skills. Through distinguished speakers, mutual academic collaboration, development workshops,  case competitions,  networking, and exposure to prominent business leaders, attendees develop new leadership skills and build a social network among some of the world’s most promising future business professionals.

This dynamic conference attracts well-known speakers such as Joey Reiman, founder and CEO of BrightHouse and iconic recording artist and performer Usher Raymond. This year, Isaac Tigrett proved to be an unparalleled fit considering the Conference’s theme “Culture and Leadership.” A renowned builder of brands, Tigrett created over a billion dollars in equity for his investors, and took the Hard Rock Cafe through three successful public offerings in the United States and Europe. His keen insights into trends and social movements, together with his expansive creative capabilities, fuel his visionary approach.

Tigrett’s opening words, “I’m a weird cat. I’m going to say a lot of things that you are not going to like,” set an unconventional, funky tone for the rest of his address.  After a brief description of his early life, during which he accrued $250,000 by 18 years of age by selling cars, Tigrett turned off the lights in the auditorium for a communal listening of “It’s Alright Ma” by Bob Dylan, offering sensory insight into his youth.

He then turned his lecture to the evolution of The Hard Rock Café, which he deemed not only the first American restaurant in Europe, but also the first “classless” restaurant in London – where both banker and a baker could gather. Tigrett defended his challenge to this status quo and shed light on a tenet of his  branding philosophy by saying, “You do not exploit culture, you have to represent it.”

Lastly, Tigrett spoke directly to the young, professional audience offering his opinion on today’s culture. “Social media, as beautiful as it can be, can also be very dangerous if taken too seriously,” he said. To illustrate he held up two recent conflicting editions of Time Magazine. The first bore the headline “The Me Me Me Generation: Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.” The second displayed the headline “Mindful Revolution: The science of finding focus in a stressed out, multitasking culture.”  He then begged the question, “So what is your culture going to do that mine didn’t? I don’t know, but let me tell you, you gotta fight for your right to party!”

For Patrick McBride 14BBA, BBA Council president and UBSLC 2013 Chairman, this year’s conference was a winner.  “Jonathan Robeny 15BBA [UBSLC 2014 Chairman] and his team did an amazing job of securing great speakers and workshops for the participants,” notes McBride.  “From the more ‘out there’ style of Isaac Tigrett and his companies, to traditional cultures found within investment banking and consulting firms, this year’s conference really featured something for everyone, which is why I think the 15th annual UBSLC was one of the best ever.”

For more on Tigrett’s visit, see the Emory News Center.

-Meredith Farahmand