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Age? Experience? Twenty-one twenty somethings prove you don’t necessarily need either to be a success.
By A.E. McGill |

BE IT IN BUSINESS, ARTS, FASHION, POLITICS, or science, numerous Dallas-Fort Worth twenlysomethings are accomplishing and achieving, despite the general culture’s indictment of Generation X and the stigma of “slackers.” Some have had tunnel vision for success, and others are surprised that it has come so quickly, but as a group they share enthusiasm, dedication, and determination. Youth is not their hindrance; it’s their motivation.


Randy Stagen, 27, IS a self-described promoter, which currently entails publishing The Met but could lead to starting a TV station. Stagen believes anything ’s possible.

He began as an entrepreneur while attending SMU, where he bought and published the Greek Directory and learned the magical words “advertising revenue.” His senior year, he started The Student Voice, a less-than-ambitious publication of student party pictures at SMU. He had about a year and a half of learning experience when he tried to launch a similar paper at the University of North Texas that was not as well-received.

After raising a quarter of a million dollars, Stagen started The Met on April 28, 1994, hoping to provide Dallasites with an alternative to the Dallas Observer. After New Times adopted ownership of the Observer, Stagen perceived a “knee-capping” style of journalism that was overwhelmingly negative of the city-and for the city.

“I was so angry and frustrated,” says Stagen, “that I started The Met”

Stagen contends that he never intended to outdo the Observer. “I wanted to provide something which is informative and entertaining,” he says, “that never takes itself seriously.” As a result, The Met has “fans, not readers.” of which there are many, not few. The weekly’s circulation is now 60,000.

Stagen claims that he’s the coach (not boss) of a great team, and he credits his own personal success to his strong work ethic and discipline.

HIS JOB IS ALMOST AN OXYMORON: David Hale Smith is a literary agent in Dallas. What’s more, at 29, he’s a young literary agent in Dallas.

“Not being in New York hurts only because I can’t pick up the phone and meet with someone that afternoon,” he says. “And being so young is only a hindrance in that I don’t have just years and years of experience.”

Still, Smith has accumulated six years of know-how in the field of publishing. He began as an intern for Dallas’ venerated book agent, Jan Miller. When Smith, a graduate of the Episcopal School of Dallas, returned home after earning a bachelor’s degree iii English from Kenyon College, he soon began an unpaid internship with Dupree/Mliller & Associates. Then he was paid. Then he was selling manuscripts. Then he decided to start his own agency.

“I figured that the worst thing that could happen was that I’d blow it and get a job.” Smith says.

So early in 1994, he founded DHS Literary Inc., armed with the contacts of his previous job and the confidence of youth. He estimates his three-member agency receives approximately 150 manuscripts and about 200 to 250 query letters each month. DHS currently oversees the varying stages of about 70 contracts.

According to Smith, the two important aspects of being a good agent are finding appropriate material and having the contacts with which to exploit it. Age and geography, it seems, are inconsequential.

Calvin Hughes, 25, CO-ANCHOR OF KXAS-TV CHAN-nel 5’s weekend newscasts, has established himself in the Da Has news media market, the seventh largest in die country.

“Mostly I just wanted to impress my mom,” Hughes says if his childhood in East St. Louis. At the suggestion of a high school teacher, he applied to the highly reputable journalism school at the University of Missouri at Columbia. He began there with a focus on print journalism but later earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism. When he got in front of the camera, he loved it and it loveq him.

Hughes has not relied solely on natural charisma. He claims his biggest problems were his diction and articulation, so he practiced incessantly. In his dormitory room, he would read the newspaper aloud until he ’d perfected his pitch. Today, Hughes still constantly rehearses and rehashes broadcasts.

“It’s important to put in the extra time to make up for inexperience,” Hughes says. He notes that having no familial responsibilities is, at times, an advantage of youth that allows him to be the workaholic mat he is.

While Hughes’ usual beat is City Hall, he considers the Michael Irvin trial one of the most important stories he’s covered. “I learned so much about reporting, about the market, and about myself. I proved 1 could do it-to myself and to my boss,” says Hughes, who was only 24 at the time of the media blitzkrieg.


“PLASTICS.” Brad Berkley, 27, NOT ONLY TOOK THE SOUND BITE OF advice from The Graduate to heart, he took it to the bank.

“Actually, it could have been anything,” claims Berkley. “I’m just good at making deals.”

Berkley began selling plastic products during his junior year at Kansas University, when a not-so-benevolent boss at a part-time job gave him a phone book-like list of cold calls to make. He sold successfully and used his earnings to found his first company, Intraco, an international trading company.

In 1994, Berkley began Global Tool & Engineering, a full-service manufacturer of plastic products with corporate headquarters in Carrollton. From design to injection molding and assembly, the company’s capabilities are diverse. And both companies together, Intraco and Global, have earned more than $40 million in revenue.

By the age of 25, Berkley had his former employer’s two biggest clients. “It was definitely a vendetta thing,” Berkley admits. But he’s above that now. Above and beyond.

In addition to continually developing Intraco and expanding Global (there are currently three manufacturing locations nationwide and plans for a fourth), Berkley always looks for undervalued business opportunities where he knows he can hire the right people to make that business successful, like the European auto repair shop he recently purchased.

He was humbled a few years ago, though, when the peso fell. Intraco, dependent on Mexico for trade, lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single afternoon. Berkley was 24.

“It made me consider and realize what’s really important…. It can’t all be money. I ’ve got the Porsche, the house, the butler, but I’m still scared it could all disappear.”


Those who are aware only peripherally of the history of Joey Vallone, 25, son of Houston restaurant mogul Tony Vallone, might leap to the erroneous conclusion that Joey built his namesake restaurant on a foundation of Daddy’s name and Daddy’s money.

But actually, Vallone surreptitiously developed his plans for his restaurant and didn’t tell his father until he’d raised $2 million himself. At the age of 23, Vallone (the younger) opened a restaurant that was wholly his own. He created each dish on the menu. He selected each wine on the wine list. He trained each manager and each member of his wait staff. He chose each Italian tile in the extravagant, lavish interior. He did everything.

And everything he did worked. Joey’s was and continues to be a see-and-be-seen establishment where patrons can anticipate a three-hour wait for dinner on a weekend. {Vallone is now proud to proclaim that, in addition to walk-ins, his restaurant does take reservations.) The restaurant garnered raves locally and nationally, making Esquire’s list of “The Best New Restaurants in 1996.” And, with a little help from his father, Joey has turned his place into a $5 million-plus restaurant.

“I was so eager to get it open,” Val lone says of his youthful start. And of his recent success, he adds, ’i didn’t realize what I had accomplished. I haven’t taken the time to sit back and enjoy it.”

Vallone perhaps was bred to be such a restaurateur. He loves the action, pressure, and whatever else accompanies putting out 500 to 600 covers on a Saturday night.

“I’m not married. I don’t have a family [here],” says Vallone, “Joey’s is my family.”

Candace Winslow. 29, “WOULD HAVE LAUGHED” IF YOU HAD TOLD HER 10 years ago where she’d be today. Typically, Plan II graduates from the University of Texas at Austin head for medical school, law school, “or at the very least, graduate school.” But Winslow was inspired most by business, particularly selling and marketing. After working for Andersen Consulting for five-and-a-half years, she decided to become her own boss.

In the summer of 1995, Winslow founded AtWork!, a new approach to computer training. Instead of off-site, large group, eight-hour training sessions, AtWork! “focuses on each person as an individual learner” at the work site, for two hours.

After starting her own company. Winslow admits that it would sometimes be easier to work for someone else, but she has the tough mental stamina to endure. “I told myself, ’This is a great idea, and I can make it work.” So 1 jumped right in,” she says.

Customers tend to agree about it being a great idea. Just two years ago, Winslow piloted the idea for three months, feedback the only payment for her services. Now her client list includes such notables as Caltex Petroleum, North I ’alias Bank, and Bank One.

WHEN Betty Haypenny WAS 13, SHE CLAIMED THAT SHE would be a millionaire by the time she was 30. At 28, she says she’s accomplished that goal but still has work to do. But then again, work for her is fun: She plays with toys for a living.

“People still describe me as a teenager, and I don’t know if that’s positive or negative,” Haypenny says.

Of course, it’s not all play and no work. Haypenny has business savvy and determination, and she has turned a small operation into an extremely profitable company.

She began her company, Token Exchange, three years ago, with $500 and headquarters at her mother’s house. Basically, Token Exchange is a shopping service for more than 300 Sylvan learning centers. A; part of their motivational reward system, students are given the opportunity to “buy” toys with merits received for good work. Haypenny is responsible for ensuring quality products and desirable choices.

The company demands an extreme amount of her time, but Haypenny credits the sophistication of computers for keeping things manageable: Inventory must be monitored, varying exchange rate; must be unified, and specific demographics must be targeted.

She still fine s time to have fun every now and then.

“A lot of people [in the toy business] have lost the thrill,” she says. “They’re too worried about margins.”

THE GRANADA MOVIE GRILL HAS BEEN A DALLAS INSTITUTION SINCE it was built in 1948, but like many institutions, it hasn’t always profited, In fact, five-and-a-half years ago, Brian Shultz and his partner, Milledge Hart, purchased the movie theater out of bankruptcy.

Shultz, 27, graduated from Chico State University at Chico in Northern California with degrees in theater arts and finance when he was 20. During summer and winter breaks, he worked in the diplomatie corps for the Israeli foreign ministry.

While his interests and experiences were broad and varied, Shultz eventually became certain of what he would be doing. When he came across a restaurant/movie house in Bethesda, Md., he “saw the concept and fell in love with it.”

He came to Dallas to buy the Granada in 1992 and is now the owner and general manager. Despite buying a business that had previously failed, Shultz was confident that the Granada could profit and prosper. The concept on its own is strong. “People like to sneak beer into theaters and [the Granada] fills that need,” Shultz says.

The problems, as he saw it, were management and control issues, which he settled. Furthermore, he elevated the idea from a minimal menu of hot dogs and beer to a full restaurant experience. Shultz also expanded the use of the theater space to accommodate private parties, seminars, and conventions.

Shultz acknowledges that Lower Greenville is a great location but also says expansion plans are in the works for an additional, multi-screen venue somewhere in North Dallas.

TYPICALLY, ELDERS WITH YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN life and business advise those who are younger. So for elders to listen to a twentysomething, for elders to pay to listen to a twentysomething, that twentysomething better know what she’s talking about.

Valorie Burton does. Since the end of January, Burton, 24, has been president of Burton Public Relations, a company that she started. Previously, she was the marketing director for Lane Gorman Trubitt, L.L.P., which she left but kept as a client. “If I can promote CPAs, I can promote anyone,” Burton says lightly.

” I always wanted to go into business for myself, I just didn’t think it’d happen so soon,” Burton says. But already, she’s amassed a diversity of experience. She graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and then earned a master’s degree in journalism from Florida A&M University. She had worked for the office of the governor in Florida and for a minor league hockey team before coming to Dallas. In addition to her own business, she’s a guest columnist for The Dallas Business Journal and Minority Business News. She also won the Miss Black Texas Beauty Pageant in 1995,wasaTop 10 Finalist at Miss Black USA, and was third runner-up at Miss Texas 1997 (the first African-American in the top five since 1977).

“It’s amazing how smoothly everything has gone,” she says in reference to her new company, which specializes in marketing, media relations, and special events. Her clients and referrals keep multiplying.

Burton has expanded her company and built a public relations firm out of a one-member operation. She hopes to do publicity for individuals such as athletes and entertainers and plans to do more African-American focus marketing.


NEWSWEEK RECENTLY NAMED Anthony Mark Hankins ONE OF ITS ” 100 people to watch in the 21 st century.” The Dallas-based, 28-year-old fashion designer has achieved startling success and has earned numerous awards in this century already. In addition to Newsweek’s well-deserved ink, Hankins has received a Trumpet Award from Turner Broadcasting/Time Warner as a “Young Star” and the Outstanding Texan Award, presented by the African-American members of the Texas Legislature.

“I don’t think I’ve made it,” he has said. “And I won’t feel like I’ve made it until every person in America knows Anthony Mark Hankins like they know Tommy Hilfiger.”

Hankins grew up in New Jersey, then studied in Brooklyn at the Pratt Institute and Paris at the city’s leading fashion design school, Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisiane, before his peripatetic journey brought him to Dallas to work as JCPenney’s first in-house designer. He left there in 1994, along with minority development manager Bruce Ackerman, and started his own company.

A front page story in The Wall Street Journal dubbed Hankins the “Calvin Klein of the coupon-clipping set.” His moderately priced collections are carried nationwide at such stores as Target, JCPenney, Marshall Field & Company, and Nordstrom. In addition, Hankins often appears on the Home Shopping Network, making women feel good about what they wear. When he’s not self-promoting, he’s helping others with his nonprofit organization. Fabric of Dreams, and lecturing to communities and schoolchildren.

Sacrick Marico Battée (PRONOUNCED CEDRIC Ma-ree-co Bat-tee), 24, is an up-and-coming fashion designer who has yet to receive the recognition of Anthony Mark Hankins, but could be very popular, very soon. In fact, Hankins himself says Battée “is very, very creative and has a wonderful sense of the future. He’s very linear and has a great use of color and a great eye for detail.”

Battée designed the suit he wore to the Skyline High School Prom in 1991, the year he graduated, and his friends took notice. Soon, they wanted him to design for them, and he knew he’d found his talent.

He continued his education at Miss Wade’s Fashion Merchandising College at the Dallas Apparel Mart, where he graduated in ! 993 with the honor of fashion designer of the year, and has since done benefits and showcases.

“Schooling is great, don’t get me wrong,” says Battée. “But as you move on, you learn and you learn and you learn.” Specifically, he has learned just how precarious and fickle the fashion industry can be. “It’s a business where you can go belly-up just like that,” he says warily.

While Battée plans on designing for men in the future, he’s currently concentrating on womenswear.


“The director wanted me to talk like dees all da time,” Kim Floras, 28, says of her first dalliance in acting. Flores, who is Hispanic, chose instead to forge non-stereotyping roles for herself. When she got on the other side of the camera, she instantly found her niche.

Based on her film shorts, the Dallas Observer selected Flores as Best New Filmmaking Talent in 1994, and she’s hardly coasted since then. She wrote, produced, and co-directed Vocessitas (Little Voices), a full-length “suspenseful drama of a young woman’s journey of healing through a mystical correspondence with aGuatemalan child, crossing the language barriers with drawings and a spiritual connection.”

Flores studied film at the University of North Texas until she dropped out because she was “already infiltrated in the business.” She believes she’s learned much more outside of school than she could have learned had she stayed, and Flores attributes a great deal of that education to her mentor, best friend, and partner, Michael Swenson. He was executive producer, co-director, and director of photography of the feature.

Flores prefers to think of the two-year project as evidence of what she and Swenson can do rather than proof of what they have done. “Vocessitas is a vehicle to propel our careers, to show what we can do on a national level,” Flores says.

The business side of show business is not lost on Flores. Her day job is as a freelance script supervisor, and she has no qualms about doing commercials or industrial footage. It’s part of realizing her visions without forsaking reality.

Adelina Anthony, 24, is the artistic director of the Gara Mia Theater Company, a professional Chicano organization that she started in January 1996, but it vion’t last.

“I don’t always want to be at the helm of the company,” Anthony claims, because she values and appreciates the new, fresh voices that come along every so often, like hers.

She came from San Antonio to attend the University of Dallas, where she began directing when she saw a sign advertising open auditions for French plays. Anthony took umbrage thai no Hispanic plays were offered.

While still in school, she worked with Teatro Dallas, but “local talent doesn’t direct there.” So she started her own company with hopes of dispel ling certain misconceptions about Chicano theater, emphasizing the strong artistic element and professionalism that is involved. “It’s part of the diversification process,” she says. When directing ;, she gives instruction to her actors not only in classical theater but also their Mexican-American culture.

Although she started abruptly, she began with foresight. She has a vision of where she wants to take the company in the next 10 years. “I’ve committed to [the company]. I’m married to it,” Anthony says, hen adds with a smile, “but it’s an open marriage.”

“Theater was my baby sitter,” says actor Jonathan Brent, 26. who’s been seen recently in the Dallas Theater Center’s productions of “All’s Well That Ends Well” and “Indiscretions.”

Although ha was born in Dallas, Brent was raised in Mineola by his grandmother, a theater director, who took him to rehearsals when he was a child. After studying at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, then further study and employment in Europe, Brent returned to Dallas about three years age.

A combination of nature and nurture predicted that Brent would become an actor, but it wasn’t until high school that “I recognized that I had talent,” he says.

At state competitions during both his junior and sen or years in high school, he won the Samuel French Award, honoring the best performance by a male or female. The recognition he received early on set a trend of critical praise that continues today. He has been chosen by the Dallas Observer as Best Actor, and h( has won several Dallas Theater Critics Forum Awards.

While his “soul will always be in theater,” Brent is moving toward movies. He’s done some television, locally “Wishbone” and “Walker, Texas Ranger,” but longs for the “truth” of film i with its development of characters and intimacy with its audience.

“[Acting] chase me, I didn’t choose it,” he says, adding that acting as a profession is “so difficult that anyone in their right mind wouldn’t doit. “


Perhaps it is not surprising that the young technology of computers would be spearheaded by youthful, ambitious technicians. It is, however, remarkable just what the twenty somethings at id Software, and now those at ION Storm, have accomplished in a short time.

In 1991, John Carmack, Adrian Carmack (no relation), John Romero, and Tom Hall started id Software in Mesquite. The company inflicted Doom, the most popular computer game of all time, upon hackers, gamers, shut-ins, and pro-crastinators. The 3-D technology of their games and the shareware strategies for selling them were revolutionary.

John Carmack WAS A MERE 19 YEARS OLD WHEN HE hooked up with id. Now 26, he is the only one of the original group still in his 20s. (Adrian Carmack and John Romero just recently turned 30.) John Carmack is president, head programmer, and chief visionary, and it is his “engine” that drives the 3-D games that have made id famous. His programming allows the computer to draw and redraw every screen quickly enough to fool the human eye and fast enough to make cyberspace a reality.

John Romero, lead designer, has been called the “ego of id.” a title which he no longer can hold. In August 1996, Romero decided to splinter off from id and start ION Storm, a company that would concentrate more on “game play’’ and less on technology. The Beatles-like breakup was amicable, they say, and reported tension only a creation of the media.

Mike Wilson. 26, IS AMONG THOSE WHO LEFT WITH Romero. At id, Wilson was director of marketing; now he’s CEO at ION, which he considers to be the business side, ergo “dead weight.” But it was Wilson’s marketing that helped id become so alive.

Shareware had existed long before id: Programmers would create software and freely distribute it, asking politely for compensation from those who enjoyed it. Likewise, encryption was nothing new, whereby software would have secrets that could be released with a code that patrons would be privy to with a toll-free call and a credit card. Wilson combined the two. Gamers could play a $5 or $ 10 shareware version of, say, Quake, which contained a few levels. If you liked it enough, you could call and “upgrade” to the full-scale version.

Youth is especially advantageous in the computer industry. It is the source of passion and independence. As Wilson says, “Much of my success is a result of doing things because I didn’t know any better.”

Bahman Chavoshan ESTIMATES THAT HE SHOULD BE ABOUT FOUR OR five years older than he is, academically speaking. At 27, he has been a licensed doctor for three years.

Chavoshan entered Golden West College in California when he was 15 years old and then transferred to the University of California, Irvine, where he graduated cum laude-at only 18. He attended the University of California at San Diego and earned his medical degree there in 1993. In 1996, after finishing his residency in internal medicine at UT Southwestern, he stayed there to complete a fellowship in cardiology. “[Being called Doogie Howser] can bug me sometimes, depending on the context. Usually, people call me Dr. Batman.”

Chavoshan knew he wanted to be a doctor by the time he was 13, when he apprenticed with his uncle, a clinical chemist. Now Chavoshan is not only a young doctor, he’s a good one. The American College of Cardiology recently selected him as a Merck Fellow for cardiovascular neurophysiology research at Southwestern Medical Center.

“I don’t want to seem melodramatic.”Chavoshan says of accomplishing so much in so little time, “but it’s a sacrifice…. [The aggressive pace of accomplishments] is intrinsic of who I am. I set goals for myself and rapidly try to achieve them.”

One of those goals included taking the internal medicine boards- which he did in August. As for his personal life, his goal-setting remains ambitious: Chavoshan aspires to travel all seven continents by the age of 30.

EAN ’ S OLDER THAN ERIK, BUT ERIK ’ S bigger than Ean. The two brothers, Ean and Erik Schuessler, however, each have 33 percent partnership in Novaré International, a “technology solutions” company. Technology solutions are for any company that wants to improve its communications, be it through print, CD-ROMs, web sites, computerized training services, or anything else that’s cutting edge.

Marshall Weinreb, the third partner, started the company in 1991. at which time “it was having a lot of problems,” according to Ean. “A lot.”

Apparently. Weinreb, an excellent salesman, could get the clients but couldn’t amaze them. In 1992 and 1993, within a couple of months of each other, the brothers Schuessler began at Novaré and started impressing a lot of people. They were promoted to partners within a year.

’’Being a partner sucks,” say Erik, as Ean agrees. “There’s so much more to do. And it’s not like you can blame anything that goes wrong on someone above you.

“There’s responsibility,” he adds with a frown.

Ean. 26, and Erik, 24, both graduated from Arts Magnet High School. Ean became interested in technology and studied briefly at the University of North Texas; he dropped out when he realized that he was learning more at his night jobs. As programmer, Ean makes the thinkable feasible, and, by using free software such as Linux, he makes it affordable. Erik went to SMU and graduated with a triple major in sculpture, painting, and design. His style and flavor are fresh and hip. Check out www. novare.net for a sample.

Their relationship as brothers and partners is definitely unique. Typically at companies in their industry, the technical and creative elements are in conflict. Ean and Erik do occasionally argue, but they both know that the arguments aren’t personal or political, so they just move on.


THE NOVELTY SURROUNDING JUSTICE OF THE Peace John Payton is not as strong as it used to be. Circa 1990, he was the 18-year-old judge in Piano, but now he’s a respected peer and dutiful official. Someday, perhaps, he’ll be a presidential candidate.

“I had to live up to some expectations and get past some doubt,” Judge Payton, 24, says of the prejudice he first encountered but has since conquered. He credits much of his success to surrounding himself “with good people.” His court has increased its caseload 200 percent since he started. “Attorneys tell me that I have a good judicial temperament, which is humbling to hear,” he says.

He’s been motivated and driven since intermediate school, when he knew that he wanted to be a lawyer or president.

Currently, Judge Payton, in addition to magistrating, attends Collin County Community College, where he is majoring in political science. Upon graduation, he plans to go to law school-all as a modus operandi for a career in politics. Whereas he hopes to work at the federal level, he has yet to decide if he’ll be in the legislative or judicial branch.

“If I choose judicial, I’ll aim for the Supreme Court.” Judge Payton says confidently. “And if it’s legislative, I’ll be running for president by the age of 50.”

When Ann Richards ran for of-fice in 1994, Angela Plese, 27, decided to spend some of her post-graduation free time volunteering. Her political activity developed late, after she studied English at the University of Texas at Austin. “I finally realized there was stuff going on that I didn’t like,” says Plese, “so it was time to pick a side and fight the fight.”

That year, Richards lost and Plese cried. “I was so sad, and 1 didn ’t want that to happen again, so I called the Dallas County Democratic Party to see what more I could do.” She volunteered more and gradually took on greater responsibilities. She chaired the public relations committee and became very involved with the Young Democrats. Then she was hired for the primary staff before she was hired on the coordinated campaign staff. “I kept working there,” she explains, “’because they didn’t tell me to leave.”

Now in an off-year, Plese continues to help increase precinct chairs, concentrates on fund-raising (all of which is legal and coffee-free), and organizes a newsletter. She’s also the communications director of the Dallas Democratic Party.

“The nice thing about Dallas is that, even though it tends to vote Republican, it has pockets of pure Democratic support,” says Plese.

Plese currently has no aspirations to run for office, but “that could change,” she says.

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