Forty under 40 Q&A: Ben Ross
Ben Ross, 37
Vice President of Development, LSU Tiger Athletic Foundation
- The opening of the south end zone expansion of Tiger Stadium.
- Securing first $1 million philanthropic gift.
- Successfully starting a scholarship endowment program at TAF to fund athletic scholarships.
Serves on the board of his daughter’s school, University Lab, and assists in a volunteer leadership role with the annual appeal.
NAME ONE BOOK THAT HAS INSPIRED YOU PROFESSIONALLY
Start With Why
WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
A physician—I wanted to take care of people.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB, HOW OLD WERE YOU AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM IT?
Stuffing mailers for Dixie Youth Baseball. I learned I didn’t want to be in the postal business.
WHAT IS THE STRANGEST JOB YOU’VE EVER HAD?
Roofing school buildings in Oklahoma—the strangest and the hottest.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE FOR A BUSINESS LUNCH IN BATON ROUGE, AND WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DISH THERE?
Can’t choose here. Too many close friends and donors in the restaurant business!
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
Marrying the love of my life, Carmen Ross.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST FULFILLING MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
Putting together a group of donors to honor Coach Skip Bertman with an endowed scholarship for baseball.
WHAT WAS YOUR PROFESSIONAL “AHA” MOMENT?
When I truly learned to listen to what others were saying.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THE HARD WAY?
You can’t make everybody happy.
WHAT GIVES YOU PROFESSIONAL INSPIRATION?
Watching our student-athletes walk away from LSU with a diploma.
WHAT IS THE BEST COMPLIMENT YOU’VE EVER GOTTEN FROM A COLLEAGUE OR BOSS?
A colleague told me in a note recently that I give 110% to my family, team and community and inspire everyone around me. That card is on my desk, and I try to live up to those words every day.
ARE YOU ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA? IF SO, ON WHICH PLATFORMS ARE YOU MOST ACTIVE?
Yes, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook—I’ve gotten pretty good at liking and retweeting.
HOW MANY TEXTS DO YOU SEND ON AN AVERAGE DAY? HOW MANY EMAILS?
My wife would tell you more, but probably 50 texts and emails.
HOW LOW WILL YOU ALLOW YOUR REMAINING PHONE OR COMPUTER BATTERY LIFE GET (IN %) BEFORE YOU HAVE AN ANXIETY ATTACK?
HOW MANY UNREAD MESSAGES ARE IN YOUR INBOX RIGHT NOW?
0—It’s a sickness.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE APP AT THE MOMENT?
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT OF THE PAST DECADE?
Love and hate relationship with smartphones
WHAT TECHNOLOGY DO YOU WISH WAS NEVER INVENTED?
YouTube—Only because my kids are on it so much.
WHAT TIME DO YOU GET UP ON WORKDAY MORNINGS?
BREAKFAST AT HOME? BREAKFAST ON THE GO? BREAKFAST AT YOUR DESK? NO BREAKFAST AT ALL?
Breakfast at home
THE SAYING GOES: “BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD.” SPECIFICALLY, WHAT ARE YOU “BEING” TO MAKE BATON ROUGE BETTER?
In my daily job I lead a team whose main goal is to provide the financial resources for a well-rounded experience for our student-athletes. We expect that when these young people leave LSU they have learned valuable lessons that will make them leaders in our community. The work we are doing at TAF makes me proud to know we are helping shape young people’s lives.
WHEN DID YOU REALIZE YOU WERE “GROWN UP?”
When I made my first mortgage payment
WHAT WAS THE BEST VACATION YOU HAVE EVER TAKEN?
Anguilla with a group of our best friends
FAVORITE GIFT YOU WERE GIVEN AS A CHILD?
A basketball goal
WHICH TALENT OR SUPERPOWER WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO HAVE AND WHY?
Ability to play guitar—I’ve always wanted to be cool.
WHAT’S A NICKNAME YOUR FRIENDS OR FAMILY MEMBERS HAVE FOR YOU?
BRoss, but a lot of people just call me by my full name because it’s so short.
WHAT ARE YOU SUPERSTICIOUS ABOUT?
WHO FASCINATES YOU?
Tito’s and soda with lime
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BAND OR SONG?
So hard to choose…Rolling Stones are up there.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?
WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE?
I’ve been told I look like Andy from The Office—so maybe that guy?
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR 18-YEAR-OLD SELF?
Whatever you do, do it big and give 100% effort. You are never guaranteed tomorrow.
Two French bulldogs, cat and bearded dragon
Collecting vinyl records, hunting and fishing
TELL US ABOUT A MOMENT THAT CHANGED YOUR LIFE.
The births of our daughters
WHAT’S THE NEXT BIG PERSONAL OR CAREER CHALLENGE YOU PLAN TO TAKE ON?
Short term: funding two athletic projects for recruiting and basketball. Long term: athletic administration
WHAT CONCERNS YOU MOST ABOUT THE FUTURE?
Connectivity, although great in many aspects, it concerns me about the things our children will have access to.
WHAT GIVES YOU THE MOST HOPE ABOUT THE FUTURE?
I believe the majority of people are inherently good and want to contribute to making our world a better place.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ADVICE FOR FUTURE FORTY UNDER 40 HONOREES?
Work hard and be nice to people.
DO YOU PLAN TO BE IN THE CAPITAL REGION FIVE YEARS FROM NOW? WHY OR WHY NOT?
Yes, we love the culture, people and all the activities/events in the area.
IF NAMED KING FOR A DAY, WHAT IS ONE CHANGE YOU WOULD MAKE IN BATON ROUGE?
I would fix the traffic.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN BATON ROUGE; WHAT WORKS AND WHAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT?
Baton Rouge is a big city with a small city feel. There is a strong sense of community here made up of people who care. The people of Baton Rouge unite when adversity strikes our area and that makes me proud.
DO YOU HAVE A BUCKET LIST? IF SO, WHAT ARE THE TOP 3 THINGS ON IT?
African safari, dove hunt in Argentina with my dad and family trip to Bora Bora.