James Keyes

James (Jim) Keyes is a business and social change agent and the Senior Consultant at Back to Space, which promotes STEM education and enrichment. He previously served as the CEO of 7-Eleven and Blockbuster and created a strategic consumer product in collaboration with Walmart. Passionate about aerospace and aviation, Jim has been a pilot for 40 years and is involved in new tech initiatives, including the Hyperspace startup through Lockheed Martin. 

As a seasoned board member, he continues to serve on the board of organizations like Rithem, the Dallas Symphony Association, and Education is Freedom, a nationally recognized college, career, and life readiness provider he founded. James is also the author of Education is Freedom, which outlines the importance of education for all.

Available_Black copy
Available_Black copy
Available_Black copy

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • [0:00] Introducing former 7-Eleven and Blockbuster CEO James (Jim) Keyes 
  • [5:55] From humble beginnings to managing Fortune 500 companies: Jim’s inspiring story
  • [10:33] How Jim’s father influenced his career
  • [15:09] Gaining strength through personal and professional adversity
  • [22:21] Advice for entrepreneurs facing financial instability 
  • [34:59] The inner workings of the investor market
  • [39:06] How does education create freedom and opportunity?
  • [46:59] Jim addresses the current state of education
  • [102:59] Stories from 7-Eleven

In this episode…

Blockbuster’s demise caused a national uproar. Many people assumed the company’s bankruptcy arose from a failure to keep up with competitors like Netflix, which had adopted streaming services. However, Blockbuster’s collapse stemmed from poor cash flow management during the 2008 recession. How can entrepreneurs persevere through financial hardships?

Having grown up in poverty, progressed to the CEO of two Fortune 500 companies, and managed debt and an economic crisis, adaptable entrepreneur James (Jim) Keyes has seen it all. Entrepreneurs and company executives often don’t recognize that debt occurs in many forms, including failing to return money borrowed from banks and investors and violating credit terms from suppliers. Jim recommends managing cash flow thoroughly and establishing emergency funds to afford interest rate increases. Additionally, education creates business opportunities, so by investing in your education, you’re more likely to raise money for your startup.

Welcome back to the latest episode of What The Teck? as Rolando Rosas and Dave Kelly host James (Jim) Keyes, the former CEO of Blockbuster and 7-Eleven, who shares his experience managing Fortune 500 brands. Jim explains how he gained strength through adversity, the inner workings of the investment market, and how his father influenced his career. 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Global Teck Worldwide

We are a full-service online retailer of professional headsets, webcams, and speaker phones from top manufacturers. 

Since 2002, Global Teck Worldwide has provided affordable, high-quality communications equipment and customized telecommunications services to organizations of all sizes.

Our specialists have invested hundreds of hours in technical training, certifications, and seminars to assist customers with purchasing decisions. 

We have served thousands of customers in a variety of industries with value-added services, including ergonomics, employee work accommodations, and hearing-impaired services. 

If you are a government agency, small business, or Fortune 500 company, contact us at https://circuitloops.com/contact-us/ to discover a solution that fits your communication needs.

Episode Transcript:

Rolando Rosas 0:00

What’s that mentality where you miss by a penny and you’re being truthful to your investors and you get slammed and you’re kind of fudge it a little bit and you beat by a penny, like every quarter what? What’s that all about? Yeah, it’s called capitalism. I mean, for re for capitalism, right,

Jim Keyes 0:18

but capitalism, we’re a public company, you have to think about the other end. I certainly used to get from time to time somebody would send me a note and they’d put a little check in for like, $2.75. And they’d say, Dear Mr. Keyes, I’m so sorry. It’s been bothering me for years, but I stole a candy bar in your store. years ago. It’s been weighing on me ever since. Here’s the money with interest.

Dave Kelly 0:45

You’ve started participating on Tik Tok. But what is your favorite social media platform?

Rolando Rosas 1:02

Welcome to What The Teck?, your gateway to business strategies and tech secrets, shaping today’s workplace. Hey, Dave, do you remember getting movies renting movies at a blockbuster, especially around the time when you wanted to see maybe a Batman flick? Or something like

Dave Kelly 1:19

that? Absolutely. I mean, renting videos, how nostalgic is that? That’s certainly something that our children will never have the experience of doing. You know, we we have fun when we’re preparing for some of these podcasts. This one especially we take these little trips down memory lane, but I absolutely remember you’d go to the video store, you’d go to your local blockbuster, Batman was being released on videotape. That night before DVDs, you go to the back wall, the whole wall, you’d actually get tricked. You’d see the whole wall, it looked like there was plenty available. And then you’d find out that there was none there. You

Rolando Rosas 1:54

know, I think at some point, they went from just having a small section to the whole back wall. And we got the guy, the guy who could give us the whole story of what was going on. We’re going to talk to Jim Keyes, he is a former blockbuster CEO, former 711 CEO, I got some that I want to share with him about 711. You know, I love the Slurpee back in the day, I’m sure he maybe could tell us about what his favorite treat was. You know, I spent a lot of time at 1011. Because during my early days, as a professional, I worked for Philip Morris, which is now known as Altria. And they were one of our accounts. And so I spent a lot of time inside of 711 as a professional and as a consumer. You know, as a kid growing up, there were seven elevens everywhere. I want to ask him if it is the most successful convenience store chain in the world, because I know they’re everywhere I’ve been to around the world. And I’ve seen seven elevens. So that’s something that we definitely want to dive into. So 711 blockbuster, he’s got an interesting story with a book that he’s written, we’re going to dive into the book, because he’s got some stuff in there valuable lessons and valuable stories that I think our audience would use in their own lives today. Oh, super inspirational.

Dave Kelly 3:02

Guys. You know, what if anyone’s looking for some motivation on how to better themselves? I mean, this is it. I love this story. I think I had an opportunity to kind of look back at my own life a few times and kind of reflect on just some of the things that he has. He’s mentioned in some other interviews, you know, some traps that maybe I have fallen into myself, but again, I’m super, super jazzed to have him on looking forward to the conversation.

Rolando Rosas 3:28

Yep, yep. And so Luna, let’s do that. All right. Give me the intro. Let’s do a proper bio read for our guest today. All right, James Keyes is a multifaceted global business leader, former CEO of fortune 500 companies, including 711 and blockbuster. Beyond his executive role. He extends his influence across diverse industries, including retail technology and Energy serving on multiple company boards that were public and advising startups is a committed philanthropist, and dedicates his efforts to institutions such as the American Red Cross, Dallas symphony orchestra, and the UT Southwestern Medical School. He has had a very interesting journey. And I’ve been looking forward to talking to Jim today. He’s got a book called Education is Freedom. And we’re gonna dive into it because there’s so much there to unpack with inspirational stories. Let’s welcome to the podcast, Jim. Keyes. All right, Jim, thank you for coming in today. Great to be with you. Where are you checking in from?

Jim Keyes 4:32

I am in Dallas, Texas. At the big big D. Big, big D. Yeah. And it’s a great place. Great place to live. Formerly from Massachusetts now I have to give credit to the hometown.

[Continue to Page 2]