Skip to main content
Jax Daily Record Friday, Jul. 1, 202204:40 AM EST

Northeast Florida's Legacy Leaders: Joe Louis Barrow Jr.

Northeast Florida leaders share their lessons and their advice for those looking to find success in business and life.
by: Dan Macdonald Staff Writer

When looking for the path to success, which way does one turn?

The road has many waypoints.

We talked with five Northeast Florida leaders who have guided their organizations and businesses for decades toward that destination.

They shared their lessons and advice, such as the payoff of listening, the need for self-awareness and the wisdom of changing course.

Here they share their insights into traveling a generational journey for the benefit of those who want to follow in their footsteps.

Joe Louis Barrow Jr.

The former CEO of IZZO and The First Tee says young people should not only listen — but hear.

Joe Louis Barrow Jr. could have parlayed his father’s success and fame as boxing’s heavyweight champion of the world to open doors in the business world.

Instead, he struck out on his own for careers in business, government and philanthropy.

He is best known for his work in the world of golf, first as the president and CEO of IZZO, the company that innovated double straps for golf bags.

Later, he was the chief executive officer of The First Tee, a program for young people that combines golf’s principles of sportsmanship and personal responsibility with learning the basics of the game.

Life’s lessons

At The First Tee we have young people graduate from par to birdie – different plateaus of accomplishment. We learned very early that a person may understand life skills and graduate to the birdie level, but their golf skills were not to that level. 

So very quickly we pivoted and made sure that when you went to birdie, you were certified in your golf skills and your life skills simultaneously. You wouldn’t advance unless you could do both at the next level.

When you have two variables, you have to make sure that they’re treated with equal attention.

His advice

I think it’s very important, particularly for a young person, to listen. And not only listen, but to hear.

They can interpret what they listened to later, but they need to hear what more experienced people who have been through that situation have done about it.

I think the young person should also understand that there might be multiple opportunities within their career. 

So if you look at my career, I was a banker, then I went to Washington, D.C., came back and I was in the building business, went to Washington, came back, and I was in the golf business.

And I remained in the golf business for more than 30 years.

The key is that you never stop learning. Although I am 75, there are aspects of life and business that I learn about even now. It’s important for the young person to know they’ll never reach that ultimate pinnacle.

(Photo by Dede Smith)


Be the first to know the latest breaking news and information that business leaders rely on in this fast-paced changing Northeast Florida economy. Regional business news, trends and statistics needed to grow your business. Key upcoming events you won’t want to miss and much more. Click Here to Grow your Business NOW!

Related Stories