Jim Young




*Director Emeritus

In his frequent speeches to employees, graduates, and other groups, Jim Young often includes this advice: “Save string.” That’s his unique way of encouraging people to look for connections in everyone and everything they encounter.

“When I read a book, have a conversation, or hear a presentation, I usually come away with ideas worth saving,” Young explains. “Those ideas become small pieces that I add to this big, virtual ball of string that I carry with me. When I later talk with someone else, I may think about some pieces on that ball – perhaps a person they should know, a book they should read, or a concept they can use. Sharing those pieces of string with others has led to some rewarding relationships.”

One outcome is a contact database any mover and shaker would be proud of: 9600 people and counting. It not only enabled him to open doors for others within his company – “Who do you know at XYZ Corporation?” – it helped him put together things that aren’t as apparent. “My position at EDS operated in the white spaces between the boxes on the organization chart,” Young says. “I was constantly looking for connections that could add value, maybe between boxes on the org chart or between an EDS box and an outside organization.”

One valuable connection got its start when Young heard a presentation by renowned scientist and Titanic discoverer Dr. Robert Ballard. “As I listened, I realized we could work together. I introduced myself and EDS to Bob and it ultimately led to the company becoming the IT provider and founding sponsor for the JASON Project, the world’s premier distance learning program. Through JASON, we furthered scientific efforts, showcased EDS’ technical capabilities, and, most importantly, supported EDS’ then number-one community priority – education – by reaching almost 3 million students and teachers around the world each year.”

Young is also dedicated to education, especially to the concept of life-long learning. It’s part of his search for the new ideas that fuel his creativity– and, of course, add to that ball of string.

Career Highlights

Jim Young is a principal with The Margate Group. As a coach, consultant and speaker, Jim’s focus is on business and individual effectiveness and improvement, and his areas of expertise include change, creativity, technology and leadership. He is a past member of the National Speakers Association.

In 1999, he retired from EDS after a thirty-four year career at that company. He recently completed ten years service as Chairman of Teleportec, a leader in human-centered distance communication.

After five years with IBM, Young joined EDS in 1965 as a systems engineer – and the company’s 40th employee. During his tenure, he worked in sales and marketing, managed corporate communications, managed strategic planning, and led numerous special projects for the corporation. He spent more than twelve years as executive assistant to the chairman of EDS.

Young earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Mississippi State University in 1960 and he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from Central Michigan University in 1998. He and his wife, Carole, have two grown children, Kelly and Jim Jr.

Civic Involvement

Jim Young has served as Chairman of:

  • UT Southwestern Medical Center President’s Research Council
  • Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation
  • The Dallas Friday Group

Jim serves or has served on the boards, advisory councils, and/or executive committees of more than twenty organizations including:

  • Presidents’ Circle of the National Academies
  • Thunderbird School of Global Management
  • Edwin L. Cox School of Business, SMU
  • School of Management, University of Texas at Dallas
  • Caruth Institute for Engineering Education, SMU Lyle School of Engineering
  • The World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth
  • The Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation
  • SMU Athletic Forum
  • MediSend International
  • USO World Board of Governors
  • The Park City Club

Jim was co-founder of TEDxSMU and TEDxKids at SMU, held annually since October 2009.

Connecting With Kids

Jim Young hasn’t always been the success he is today. He’s often heard explaining that in college, he failed two subjects three times. “But just because I failed,” he says, “didn’t mean I was a failure.”

It’s a life lesson he shares with many young people, from high school students recognized for leadership skills to at-risk kids for whom Young has additional advice: You can’t do anything about where you have been or where you are, but you can do everything about where you go and what you become.

“It’s clear to me that kids are the future and whatever this world becomes will be their doing. I may be able to help some of them and shortcut their learning experience by sharing some of what I’ve learned. If a few connect and get something from it, my time will have been well spent.”