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Edward Crawford, EMBA ’17

Edward Crawford, EMBA ’17, joins Christopher Reichert, MOT ’04, to discuss his role as co-founder and President of Coltala Holdings. He also shares lessons from his time in the Peace Corps, the U.S. Navy, and his experience in the Executive MBA program at MIT Sloan.

Sloanies Talking with Sloanies is a conversational podcast with alumni and faculty about the MIT Sloan experience and how it influences what they're doing today. Subscribe and listen on Apple Podcasts, Google, and Spotify

Christopher Reichert: Welcome to Sloanies Talking with Sloanies, a candid conversation with alumni and faculty about the MIT Sloan experience and how it influences what they're doing today.

So, what does it mean to be a Sloanie? Over the course of this podcast, you'll hear from guests who are making a difference in their community, including our own very important one here at MIT Sloan.

Hi, I'm your host, Christopher Reichert, and welcome to Sloanies Talking with Sloanies. My guest today is Edward Crawford, an EMBA of 2017. He is a Co-Founder and President of Coltala Holdings. Welcome, Edward.

Edward Crawford: Thank you for having me on today, Christopher.

Christopher Reichert: My pleasure. Some quick background before we start our conversation. Edward is a graduate of a few different institutions, Texas Christian University, Tulane University, and of course Sloan School with an Executive MBA. He worked variously at Goldman Sachs while serving simultaneously in the U.S. Navy. I'm right about that, right? It was Navy Reserve or was it active?

Edward Crawford: Correct.

Christopher Reichert: Yes.

Edward Crawford: A combination of reserve and active. Yes.

Christopher Reichert: Yea. Well, he supported Special Operations Task Forces as an Intelligence Officer and Tribal Advisor, which must've been fascinating. He's also a Bronze Star Medal awardee, Peace Corps volunteer, and there's a story in there about a coffee organization you helped start there. Actually, why don't we start with that? So, Peace Corps, where did Peace Corps fit in the timeline?

Edward Crawford: Yes, so Peace Corps was my first "real job," and it was not the easiest job. They say it's the toughest job you'll ever love. First thing I did was lose about 40 something pounds to maybe dysentery and dengue, but I recovered and lived in a small kind of shack, but started a coffee cooperative to help the farmers earn more for their families. And also, coffee grows under shade for 40 years, the typical Arabica variety that they grow there. It's called Typica or Bourbon, and I see you drinking some right now.

Christopher Reichert: Got a glass of it right here. A cup of it.

Edward Crawford: And so, what it does is, it provides an ornamental forest up in the mountains. So if you look at Haiti, it's largely disforested on the border. It has turned actually into desert because once the top silt touches the sun, it goes off, it can't find its way back. So it's a very big conservation effort as well. The more coffee you have the longer the forest lasts. And they can grow mangoes in May, avocados in October and other things around the coffee. So it's the agroforestry system that the Peace Corps teaches. So we started with about four farmers, had the government issued horse and machete, rode around the mountains handing out flyers to come to my meetings.

First couple of meetings, not a whole lot of people showed up and then slowly it started to build, started to earn trust. And today we've planted over two million trees. There's a beautiful community center in the town of Los Blancos. There's a school and they've really come together and advocated for one another. They have a saying called “en la unión tenemos la fuerza” (in union we have strength) and it was neat to see them come together and use the cooperative not only to help grow more coffee and provide more income, but also to advocate for their community and come together. Collaborate.

Christopher Reichert: Did you speak Spanish before you got there? Or did you learn it kind of on the fly?

Edward Crawford: I did. I would say I spoke ... I lived in Costa Rica for about a semester and grew the long hair and did that whole thing. But, yeah, I spoke pretty good Spanish, but after a year or so, it was pretty Dominican-ish.

Christopher Reichert: So, I see that to you talked about, we’ll come to Coltala in a minute, but I see with your educational background Texas Christian University, and I think the way you speak about your time in the Peace Corps and the work that you're doing now, that there's a strong faith component to the work that you do. Did I pick up that accurately?

Edward Crawford: There is, there is. I have a strong faith in God, I'm a Christian, but just believe in serving others and showing we are Christians by our love, not necessarily ... There's a saying called, “I'd rather see a sermon than to hear one any day.” And so, one of the first things I wanted to do after undergraduate was going to serve others. And so I dedicated two and a half years to doing that. And that was largely from the faith component.

Christopher Reichert: So, I know there was a famous quote, maybe it's infamous, I'm not sure, from Lloyd Blankfein, from Goldman Sachs where you also worked, where he said that Goldman Sachs is doing God's work. I suspect that might be a little different to what you have or doing now or had in mind, but maybe it's related. I think it was taken out of context, but I'm curious what your take is on.

Edward Crawford: Yeah, well, I think so having met Lloyd a couple of times, he's hysterically funny. I think that was fairly tongue-in-cheek knowing his sense of humor. But what is interesting about Goldman, not a lot of people realize this, but the amount of people that go into public service from Goldman Sachs is astounding. If you look at secretary treasuries, you look at people involved in political administrations going on to become ambassadors and leaders in the government. There's just a lot of people that they make their money and they say, “Okay, I’m all set I'm going to go do something else and try to make a change here.”

So, I was inspired by that. Actually, when I joined Goldman, I did a lot of research and found out that that was part of the culture of the company, very American. And they actually have on Wall Street one of the strongest programs for veterans. So they took good care of me when I was deployed. I was deployed while at Goldman, came back and actually met with Lloyd Blankfein and spent an hour with him. And that didn't happen in a lot of firms that are 30,000 people deep. So really a neat place. Helped run Veterans recruiting there, they have a VIP Veteran program. And so really enjoyed my time there.

Christopher Reichert: So, when you were a Naval Intelligence Officer, tell us about the Special Operations Task Force and the Tribal Advisor. I also, I remember hearing that you also served with, was it two SEAL teams, right? At some point you were a part of them?

Edward Crawford: Yes. Just to clarify, I'm an Intel Officer, not a SEAL, but I served under SEAL Team Two and Four. And so I overlapped, I was with both of them. One came in and then SEAL Team Two, Mike Hayes, who just wrote a book called “Never Enough.” Great book that just came out, he worked for Ray Dalio and he's gone on to be very successful in business. He was the leader of SEAL Team Two and then SEAL Team Four came in. So straddled both of those teams. And I worked with the tribal elders, mentoring tribal elders, along with local police chief and governor. And our mission was to recruit males or military-aged males over to the Afghan police force, the ALP, so that to teach them to move, shoot, and communicate basic small unit tactics, to be able to protect their communities from the Taliban.

So, really somewhat Peace Corps with guns, but really a neat mission because we were clear, hold, build. And we clear, hold, and then build. And so towards the end, you started to see economic development and how we could track the Cuban trade and economic development. Who was trading, where was economic starting to happen. So very exciting mission, was tough. Lost some good friends, Commander SEAL Team Four was lost on that mission or on that deployment, but very rewarding experience and was able to work and develop close relationships with Achakzai, Barakzai, Tokhi, and even the Hazara tribes there.

Christopher Reichert: Did you see with the drawdown of forces that is happening right now, do you think that the build component that you were part of the sticky enough, is going to be sticky enough to take them into their kind of a more stable future?

Edward Crawford: Yeah, I think it's going to be difficult. Really, one of the things about Afghanistan and any country, is it really has to come from within. I think we've done a great job in Columbia, for example, with working with them. And they've really defeat the FARC paramilitary ELN, and have really developed a shining country in Latin America. I think the verdict is still out on Afghanistan. I think what's good for us as a country is, is we maintain strong relationships through our agency and through a small forces that will continue to maintain their longer-term. And I think that's very healthy and I think there's been a lot of progress there. And in hoping that it will stay.

Christopher Reichert: I see that you look competitive and you have achieved a lot. So, Jones Scholar, Dean's Service Award, Aldrich Fellowship and Bronze Medal. What is a Bronze Star Medal? What's involved? What does the Bronze Star Medal mean? Better than a Purple. Heart?

Edward Crawford: Yeah. Listen, the real award is the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, that I do not have. That's for action combat. This was merely for doing my job under some tough circumstances, but a lot of other people did a lot more than I did.

Christopher Reichert: Wow, I'm not going to denigrate your service.

Edward Crawford: No, I'll do that for you. It was nice of them to give me that.

Christopher Reichert: So, you were in Goldman Sachs and the Navy for a number of years simultaneously. And then you decided to go back to graduate school. Well, I think you were saying that you've been to a few graduate schools. I mean, Tulane and then Sloan and your wife is saying enough is enough, but what prompted you to first do your first master's degree and then come to Sloan?

Edward Crawford: Well, part of being a Louisiana, I grew up kind of catching alligators and that whole thing and insecure overachiever is probably a good way to describe me. Developing some security along the way. But no, my mom was a violin teacher that started a Suzuki school from scratch as an entrepreneur. My dad was a business person and very involved in the community, both very servant-oriented. And my grandfather escaped from the Holocaust and brought a cello over here. My little brother is one of the top cellist in the world. He just did 1,000 days in a row and went to Julliard.

And so, our family is a little von Trappy in that way from Sound of Music. And so, I was always motivated to achieve and help others, but eternal learning and always learning and growing as a person—whether it's faith, whether it's getting good at the violin, a sport or learning more was always something that we always valued highly. And that was part of the reason for MIT as well.

Christopher Reichert: Have you kept the dress from when you were a kid? The one that your mother dressed you?

Edward Crawford: The little green one? No, I have not. I've had some surly guys with beard come in my house and take a picture of that and say, “we're going to tell everybody.”

Christopher Reichert: That's fantastic. Well, I have three daughters, I don't have any sons. So I guess I ...

Edward Crawford: Well, my mom wanted four girls and she tried four times and got four boys. So she did what she could.

Christopher Reichert: It's like, that's enough. That's great. Where in Louisiana did you grow up? In New Orleans or around?

Edward Crawford: Grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana, and actually north Louisiana. And my ancestor was actually Jewish as well. His name was Efram Jacoby and he changed his name to Edward Jacobs and moved to Shreveport, Louisiana. And then ultimately my name is Edward Jacobs Crawford. So you kind of see where that came out. So the name's a little bit of a lie, but it's a nice American story

Christopher Reichert: Right, right. And you literally grew up eating crawfish and hunting alligators, was it, you said?

Edward Crawford: Yeah. Catch and release alligators in a pirogue in a place called Bayou COMET-Farm down in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, which is actually a few years older than New Orleans. A Spanish colony. So Louisiana is an amazing place.

Christopher Reichert: It's a great place to visit it. When we can travel I want to go back there, I love traveling in the countryside out there.

So, you then decided to go to Sloan. How did you choose Sloan when you're looking at business schools?

Edward Crawford: Yeah, so the “mind and the hand” was something that really intrigued me. And Thoreau, the Great American Scholar was always someone in my mind who could kind of go out in the woods and kind of start a fire and be kind of boy scout or understand how to operate in a real environment, but also read the great works of American literature. And so, it's kind of a Renaissance concept. And what I loved about Sloan was theory is nice, I kind of want to roll the sleeves up. I've always jumped in the deep end and tried to swim my way out as a philosophy.

It sometimes works, sometimes not, but I only applied to one school and that's the only place I wanted to go. And it was for that reason, it was really action learning and technology is driving everything that we do. And so being in a school that really understands technology and systems was something that I thought was important. And then I would say that the number one is entrepreneurship. I saw so many people coming out of Sloan and having the confidence to just start their own thing and being successful. So that was something that I really was looking for.

Christopher Reichert: Do you have a course that you took that you remember, or a course that you missed, that you wish you took?

Edward Crawford: So, I have two that I just loved. One was System Dynamics, which was something very new to me. Nelson Repenning, who I love. It was my favorite class by far. And what we do at Coltala right now is very system-oriented. So I can be very visionary and great ideas, but putting them into the systems to implement them is really something that it's helped me a lot in life. And then Idea Week to me was just fascinating. I mean, I think we had 120 people in a room and you had 90 seconds to pitch an idea. And then people either came to your idea or not and you had a week to like build the business plan and see if it would work. And that was a lot of fun. We ended up doing a kinetic battery for cell phones that would charge while you walk, was our idea.

Christopher Reichert: Interesting.

Edward Crawford: And I had two PhDs on the team, one in controlled systems engineering. We went to the Media Lab, but the ability to do that is something I think we can only do at a place like MIT. And it was a blast. So much fun.

Christopher Reichert: Did you take advantage of courses in other schools?

Edward Crawford: I got close to doing some courses at the [Harvard] Kennedy School, but I was working full-time and I was in the Navy reserves. And so after like eight weekends in a row being gone, I realized it wasn't going to work, but I do come back each year to try to come back each year for the courses that they offer in the IAP program. That's a really big benefit of the program that I love.

Christopher Reichert: Yeah, no, that's really ... It brings you right back to the, kind of, the depth and smarts that are in one room for three days. It's fantastic.

What impact did your partner have in your decision to go back to school or attend Sloan?

Edward Crawford: Yeah, so my partner, interestingly enough, we had talked about forming Coltala for a while. We had known each other for years and we're just kind of waiting for that right moment. And I was in Miami and he was in Dallas-Fort Worth at the time. And we had a phone call and he had run into my mother-in-law and he said, "I'm doing the OPM program at Harvard." I said, "Well, I'm doing the EMBA program at MIT." He's like, "No kidding."

And it just like, we're both not young bucks, he's 10 years older than I am, but we both kind of, I think, thought, hey, this guy keeps up in the end and keeps learning. And this is the guy, we need to figure out a way to work together. And so through that program, he started developing a business plan. I started working with him, we officed together actually at my prior firm. And so this was kind of this dream that we had both have and it converged. And really it converged through MIT Sloan and the Harvard OPM program kind of knowing we were doing that, taking some time away to think. So, he had a big influence.

Christopher Reichert: And so, you talked about being mission-driven and I think the term that you use is “conscious capital.” So, tell us about how that philosophy and perspective.

Edward Crawford: Yeah, conscious capitalism is a way of thinking about the different stakeholders. Thinking about not only shareholders, kind of the Milton Friedman, which I love Milton Friedman, but not just the shareholder, but the shareholders, the employees, the customers, the environment, and the community. And so with mission and margin, how we think about it as we think about impact in those ways. If we monitor certain things, like if we have regrettable churn that's super high in an organization, but we're making a lot of money. That's not good. That's long-term, not sustained. It's a system dynamic reinforcing loop. And so we look at certain metrics like that. And then when we look into buying businesses, we say, “okay, how does this business affect people? How does it affect the community?”

Our AC business hires a lot of veterans, provides a lot of training for veterans coming out. We've hired two in the last 10 days. So it gives us an amazing opportunity to transition veterans, give them a great job, and then go serve people in their homes and do it the right way. We don't push systems to older ladies that don't need it. Integrity is very high on our list and our Home to Help business, we're taking care of people in their last leg of life in Hospice. They'd be your mom or my mom, and that's their last, maybe their last six months, maybe their last two months. And that nurse that sits with them is their best friend and their confidant up until they pass from this life into the next. It's extraordinarily important. And so Peace Corps and Navy were great, but this is very important work we're doing here now.

Christopher Reichert: Yeah, you talked about paying attention to, when you're buying a business, paying attention to the business owners who've decided to sell their business and really, I'm going to step back. I think, is it hedge funds or private equity has a somewhat bad reputation of going in, taking out the best assets and just selling the rest of for all.

Edward Crawford: Yeah. I think probably both of them do. I think probably. Yeah.

Christopher Reichert: I was trying to get one of them an out, but okay.

Edward Crawford: And that's why the mission and margin are important in balance. So one of my mentors in life was that guy named John Elstrott, who is one of the co-founders and was chairman of Whole Foods with Mackey. And it was that double bottom line concept. You can look at spreadsheets all day, you can sell property, plant, and equipment, and you can optimize things on an Excel doc. But if you don't have a really great culture, you're not going to hold on to people and your margin will go down. So, it may be sustainable for a year or two or a little while, but long-term, it won't be. And if you look at a workforce with 50% millennial, what do they want to do? They want to have an impact. They don't care as much how much they make as the mission. And so you really have to have this culture today to retain people. And so the mission and margin, I think you really can't have one without the other. I just think we're trying to define it and make it more front and center.

Christopher Reichert: So, you buy and hold companies, or you buy and hold and build, and then eventually find other buyers for them?

Edward Crawford: Yeah. So we have a longer hold period due to how we're capitalized. And so, what we can tell a business owner, and we're with one of these right now is, "Hey, we're acquiring majority interest. You'll own 20 to 25% of this." And then we'll have a second bite at the apple one day, but we're going to all kind of agree, “Hey, let's keep growing this is a great business,” or “you're tired and it's time to sell or do something else.” I've talked to a lot of the kind of larger family offices in the United States. And the thing I hear the most, that it's not which businesses they didn't invest in. And it's not the ones that they sold too late. It's the ones that they sold too early. That will be the issue because they have a time horizon from a fund and year six, they have to sell a company that's doing really well. And so by definition, you sell your best ones and you keep the ones that aren't going as well, when it's probably better to, or at least we think, to keep running the business longer term.

Christopher Reichert: Do you think that your undergraduate degree in, I guess, literature, English literature, and then it looks like your high school was also, was that Christian based as well?

Edward Crawford: High school was a public high school. That Magnet Program in Shreveport.

Christopher Reichert: How do you kind of put through, when you're looking at an acquisition opportunity, how do you build a business and how do you sell your mission-based approach to business owners?

Edward Crawford: Well, most business owners, most businesses we acquire are from founder owners, oftentimes second, third generation. We have multiple examples of second and third generation. And so they want to sell their business. It's usually, most of ours are proprietary, so it's not in an auction. They care about getting a check, but they really care about their business and the legacy. Ricky Walker sold us a business called Walker. It's got his name on it and it will continue to have his name on it. And so that is very compelling to a lot of owners, whereas I think they see we're a holding company model, which is different than a private equity firm, where you may be dealing with an MD that has to sell in a few years, or maybe he switches firms. Like I'm not switching firms, we run the firm, because it's smaller. So that's been very compelling to most of our business owners that are founders, because there's that legacy component. And oftentimes they have sons that ... we have four examples of sons or daughters in the business.

Christopher Reichert: Yeah. And I'm sure there's a lot of emotions involved when a business is being sold.

Edward Crawford: It's a child, it's a spouse equivalent in many cases. And we've been told that. It's a very difficult decision.

Christopher Reichert: So, at Sloan, had you heard of system dynamics before you went to Sloan?

Edward Crawford: I heard about it doing research on Sloan. I really was gravitated towards the entrepreneurship and the action learning and then kind of learned about the system dynamics and then more about lean, and the system we use currently Coltala Enterprise System is a lean system, which takes a lot of system dynamics and then a lot of the Danaher Business System type work and puts them together.

Christopher Reichert: Yeah. What is it you call it? Is it the Coltala ...

Edward Crawford: Coltala Enterprise System.

Christopher Reichert: Enterprise System. So yeah. Tell us more about that.

Edward Crawford: Yeah. So it's a very methodical system. And what we do is there's a system called strategy deployment. And so, we get together with the management team and we lock ourselves in a room for three days and we say, “what are the main three things we want to accomplish next three years, three to five years.” And then “what are the three main things we want to do this year?” We agree on those. And then we lock them into multiple. It can be 12, it can be 13, 15 different action plans to accomplish that. Each action plan will have a bowler associated with it. In one point of contact that owns it. That bowler will be either red and green. And if it's red, you're not hitting the target and we need to adjust, look at it. If it's green, you're doing well. And if you're red, we do what's called an A3. And that's what we call problem solving, learning. And that's where you go in and say, "Okay, why are we not hitting the numbers we need to hit? Why are we not filling out as much paperwork as we should be filling out to get better reviews online?" And so there's a learning component. And what it does is it takes a small organization that may have three or four main leaders. And it starts to, it starts to empower all the people under them to kind of rise up and take their own P&L type of responsibility. So we have a ops sync meeting once a week for an hour with our teams, and instead of having a quarterly board meeting, we have a monthly review and that is almost the whole day.

And we go over everything in the business. It's not show-and-tell to us, it's them learning and us all working together and talking through things to make it better. So that's a bit of a quick overlay of how the system works. And then we track eight core operating metrics each month to see how we're doing that really determine the health of the business. So, if somebody were to want to acquire a business from us, every month we have all the numbers and everything really organized and put together.

Christopher Reichert: Well, when you raise a round a funding, I mean, it sounds like you have very patient capital. I mean, that's kind of built into to your mission?

Edward Crawford: Yeah. So we try to capitalize each business. We control our acquisitions. So, we will have the institutional capital in some businesses, but largely families. We have two families that have backed us on our investment committee, Scott Luttrell, Luttrell Capital Management. And his son actually went to Stanford Business School. And then Darrell Bevelhymer, who started Tenaska back in the day. So both incredible investors, very large investors. And they also are in each of our deals. And so, because we have that, we have a longer term view on things.

Christopher Reichert: You've been doing this for, I guess, for four years now, four or five years, what's your definition of success?

Edward Crawford: Our definitions of success is I'll go back to mission and margin, but we look at how many employees are in the organization and how do they feel about working there and is that going well? So it's impacting lives specifically. Are we creating jobs where people can go work and earn a living and put food on the table for their families? And then are we growing as an organization? So there's a growth component financially, and there's a growth component for the people in the businesses. And so part of the really rewarding work we get to do is seeing our leaders, everyone from the CEO, president, CFO, VP of Ops, down to individual producers, really kind of grow under our model. So that's kind of how we determine success. Each day is tracking those metrics and seeing how many employees do we have? How much are we growing from a revenue and EBITDA standpoint? And we have certain targets that we track there.

Christopher Reichert: So, you talked about one thing you appreciate about your business partner is his lifelong learning approach. So how do you keep yourself sharp? And what's the latest kind of thing that you've geeked out about or learned to stay sharp?

Edward Crawford: Yeah, so both Ralph and I are in YPO, he's in Fort Worth chapter, I'm in the Dallas chapter.  We're in forums in YPO, Young Presidents Organization, which is once a month and we get deep there. Ralph and I have our own forum where we meet with a coach once a month. And we go through that process to see how that health of our partnership is going, how our business is going, and we really kind of open up and go deep from a communication standpoint. We are doing a hero's journey year long program through Darren Hardy about kind of modern day leadership. As we change from a more millennial workforce, kind of how leadership is changing and how we as leaders can adapt. And he goes back for more coursework. He did Stagen Academy in Dallas, and then I've been going back to MIT each year, but we continue to look for opportunities to invest monetarily and in time in our education, both through getting coached, learning from others, and then doing some classroom.

Christopher Reichert: So, tell us about your favorite MIT Sloan memory.

Edward Crawford: My favorite memory was we had a gala one night where we all got dressed up and went out together and a couple of the military men and women said, "Hey, why don't we wear our uniforms?" And we all knew that there was some military and we had hung out together. But when we all got suited up, there were about 10 of us. And it was amazing to see you can, unlike many jobs, you can read a lot of resumes on someone's chest in the military.

And it was amazing to see what people had done for their country, who had never talked about it, who you had never knew that they were even in. And we all kind of got together and took a picture together and it was just an amazing night, because it forced everybody to go back and say, "Yeah, that's where I was. And that's who we lost and that's who we fought for. And that's what we care about." And the broader Sloan community just was awesome. And it was just an incredible night. It really was. So, that was my biggest memory.

Christopher Reichert: That's certainly a life changing experience. And what about a do-over? Is there a class that you feel like you missed and you wish you can go back and do?

Edward Crawford: Yeah. I think I have some very strong relationships from Sloan and I'd say that the one regret I have is not staying in better touch. I actually have a couple of friends that I do a little Bible Study with. We started a Christian Fellowship group at MIT and then a couple other friends that I just keep in touch with generally, but I lost a good friend named Shermon. And this was last year.

Christopher Reichert: Shermon Williams.

Edward Crawford: Yes.

Christopher Reichert: Oh, he was a classmate of mine at the Kennedy School.

Edward Crawford: You're kidding me. What a small world.

Christopher Reichert: Yeah. You probably know a Shiek Pal if you know Shermon. They were very good friends.

Edward Crawford: Yeah, Shermon was an amazing person. And talk about like a mission-driven just big heart. I mean, he probably had one of the biggest hearts in our class and just everybody loved Shermon. I mean, he just had such a presence and it was a 33 year old African-American freshman at Yale after coming from the streets and having a really hard upbringing. His story was so inspiring. And so he really, he helped me when I was looking at starting Coltala and pushed me over the edge and said, "You got this." And so he was such a good mentor and great friend to me. And my regret is not having been closer to him and spending more time with him while I had it. I don't have it now.

Christopher Reichert: I do remember when he passed away, there was a lot of conversation over at the Kennedy School side.

Edward Crawford: There are not many people like Shermon in this world. I wish there were more.

Christopher Reichert: Absolutely.

So, do you have any advice for prospective Sloanies about considering graduate school and particular Sloan?

Edward Crawford: Yeah, I think not to pitch against other schools, but Sloanies are just very nice, kind, good, collaborative people. There is a discernible, no a-hole rule there. And having recruited folks from some of the other top five MBA programs, that's not always the case. And I believe that you can be very smart, you can be very capable and very driven and that's all great. But if you're not a good person, I just don't want to work with you. Trust is really important in business. And so, I would encourage somebody who's looking to ... who's mission-driven or values-driven to look at Sloan as an option.

Christopher Reichert: That's interesting. That's a common thread when I ask that question on this podcast that people talk about it.  How when they visited Sloan, they really were struck by the down to earth and approachable and collaborative nature of their current students and potential peers when they're at schools.

Edward Crawford: Yeah, less ego, more sleeves rolled up, it seems.

Christopher Reichert: Right. Mens et manus, right?

Edward Crawford: Yep.

Christopher Reichert: Well, thank you very much Edward Crawford co-founder and president of Coltala Holdings for joining me today on Sloanies Talking with Sloanies. Thank you.

Edward Crawford: Really enjoyed it. Thank you so much, both of you and great to meet you and hear your background as well. Love to hear more.

Christopher Reichert: Sloanies Talking with Sloanies is produced by the office of external relations at MIT Sloan School of Management. You can subscribe to this podcast by visiting our website,, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts. Support for this podcast comes in part from the Sloan annual fund, which provides essential, flexible funding to ensure that our community can pursue excellence. Make your gift today by visiting To support this show. Or if you have an idea for a topic or a guest you think we should feature drop us a note at