Sometimes the stars align.
That’s a good explanation for what transpired with Bo Peretto.
When Bo was 10, he had a business with some friends, called MBJJ. He was the B. They bought candy from the Jolly Rancher factory and sold it at school.
Even though the other kids often made fun of him because of his interest in business, his 6th grade teacher (Mr. Smith) suggested that he should write to a successful businessman. Bo says, “I don’t remember exactly how Bill Daniel’s name came up, but the teacher suggested that I write to him. I did, and as they say, the rest is history.”
He continues, “Anyway, I wrote to Mr. Daniels. I used microfiche and I found articles about his business background and his philanthropy. I sent him a business plan on how I wanted to expand my business.”
A while later The phone rang, and my mom said it was Bill Daniels. Not his assistant. He said, “I have responded to those questions you asked in the letter and my assistant will reach out to set up a time to meet.” “I met with him at his office in Cherry Creek. He treated me and my family like I was the president of the United States. He had someone greet me at the door, had an assistant that made sure we were comfortable.”
“He was completely focused on me, to get to know me, to see what I was interested in. Here I was a random 10 year old kid, not an employee kid, but this business titan takes the time to treat me like an adult. Bill decided he would invest in my business. He would put some capital in. This was an early version of “shark tank” without the shark. In retrospect, this was a wonderful opportunity to have him as a mentor.”
Bill said we needed a formal agreement, I had to open an account at Young American’s Bank, and sign for a business loan. Bill would own 20% of the company, but if I paid it off on time and in full, I would own 100%. And he wanted to see my report card and to get updated on the business.
I went to the Young Americans Bank and got the loan. As Bill requested, I sent my report cards and Bill was totally invested. He commented on each one of my grades. As a kid, I didn’t really understand how busy he was, but I wasn’t intimidated because I didn’t know any better.
The YAB purchased candy from me to fill the jars at the teller windows. Luckily my parents were very supportive of everything that I was trying to do. They would drive me to Jolly Rancher to get the candy and then to Young Americans to deliver it.
Because I had an account at YAB, I learned about their Young Advisory Board and was selected to be a member at age 14.That’s then I first met Linda Childears (CEO of Young American’s Bank). I was chair of the board at 16. I stopped my candy business in high school, and got into DECA. I was the manager of the 7-11 store at our high school. I volunteered at YAB and worked in the lobby over break. I was a teller, an operations officer and a loan officer (at age 19). I loved being in the lobby and getting to know all the kids that were coming in to the bank.
Ultimately I moved over to the more administrative side and supporting Linda. Full circle, I ended up supporting the Young American’s Bank from the staff perspective. I worked there 9 years. Bill was still in touch with me. I corresponded with Bill for 10 years every couple of months. Bill Daniels responded every single time. I kept every letter. I know now, that he was ill during some of that time, but what a gift. Meeting him changed the trajectory of my life. I think about the impact that someone can have on a young person ‘s life and I think about that.
I moved over to the Daniels Fund. The Daniels Fund is one of the largest individual foundation in the Rocky Mountain Region. At the Daniels Fund, I really enjoy being in the communities we serve. The Fund is active in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico. These were the 4 states that impacted him. He started his cable empire in Casper, Wyoming.
Bill made his plans and wishes known to the Board of the Daniel’s fund. Part of my goal of working with the senior team is to be reflective of Bill, which means = first class, compassionate and generous. It’s very personal for me.
I love to meet the students and their parents. Part of my job is interviewing students and reviewing grant proposals. It’s exciting to zero in on what is important in Cheyenne, Salt Lake, Trinidad or Albuquerque. It can look different on what’s important in a smaller rural town.
The fund was started with $1 billion. 20 years later, we have distributed over $1 billion dollars.*
When Bo is asked what is less enjoyable – he said “ We all have some things we don’t like as much – I like being out, but the office work has to be done It’s an honor. In the truest sense. How many people get to do what we do?”
What does the next 5 years look like? “I love what I’m doing. In 5 years, I don’t know. I always want to be open to opportunities and to meeting people. I’ve often thought about what I could do in my own business. I haven’t pulled the trigger, but I’ve had wonderful mentors, Bill, Linda Childears and a bunch of others now. I want to see where life takes me. I don’t have a predetermined path. I'm excited to see where it goes.
Note: There were 238 Daniels Scholars named this year. They receive up to $100,000 over 4 years. It’s exciting because the scholars want to give back and get involved and mentor other Daniels Scholars.
Bo continues, “I was recently appointed to the Goodwill of Colorado Board. The 238 Daniels Scholars named this year. They receive up to $100,000message that Goodwill promotes in helping and supporting folks with disabilities is important to me. There’s so much more in addition to the stores that everyone knows about. It’s a large organization that does a lot of things. I’m
so excited to really dig in and learn all I can.”
My journey wasn’t planned. I was one of many that Bill supported, but I’m so glad I was.
What’s always in your refrigerator? Mayo. I love it on everything.
Favorite movie? It’s hard to name just one. Any action movie involving the military, CIA, etc.
What do you like to do with free time? Travel
Hobbies? Not really. I’m in search of one though.
What trait do you most despise in others? Disrespect
In yourself? When my quest for perfection goes overboard
Favorite vacation spot? Southern California
What are you looking forward to or planning? Trip to Egypt in 2024
Who are your heroes? Bill Daniels
Any regrets? Sure, but I prefer to look forward
What talent would you like to have that you don’t? I would love to be able to sing well. My voice is terrible.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be? My French Bulldog. She’s really spoiled.
What is your idea of a perfect state happiness? Laying near a pool looking at the ocean
Favorite non-profits to support? Young Americans Center for Financial Education, Goodwill Colorado, and the Rose Andom Center