Tim Foote, ’72, and Mike Oldham, ’80, didn’t know each other in college, but ended up taking similar paths.
They were both first-generation students. Both played sports at MSU and studied business. They both moved to Colorado shortly after college and made their living in sales. The men were connected via Sophie Pierpoint, director of development for the Missouri State University Foundation. Sophie was out in Colorado “selling” the importance of supporting MSU.
Together, these men — once strangers and now friends — have made a tremendous difference at Missouri State and the College of Business.
They funded the Tim Foote and Mike Oldham Families Peak Performance Sales Lab when Glass Hall was renovated in 2017.
And the men recently established a fellowship. The fellowship was intended to fund the cost of a good professor to lead the sales department and keep the Sales Lab relevant, the men said.
“We both have made our living in sales and were lucky to be successful. We just felt like sharing that,” said Tim Foote.
For the university, a fellowship is an endowment, a tool designed to recruit and retain outstanding educators. It helps the College of Business provide competitive salaries, research opportunities, and lifts the profile of a department.
Foote also sponsored an outdoor terrace in Glass Hall in honor of his mother Jimmie Jean Foote. She was able to be there at the ceremony when Glass Hall renovations were complete, with her 90-year-old boyfriend in tow.
Both men have generously donated to various first-generation funds.
About the lab
The Tim Foote and Mike Oldham Families Peak Performance Sales Lab has amazing GoReact software.
Using this state-of-the-art software, students can practice their sales skills in the lab while being recorded, and receive real-time assessment from their instructor. Typically, this type of training tool has only been available through large company training facilities.
The professor’s feedback is embedded in the video as specific behaviors are observed. The student can then download the video of their sales presentation and view specific comments made by the instructor. If students want to provide an electronic copy of their best sales pitch to a potential employer, they can do that, too.
The recordings of presentations and enhanced feedback have greatly assisted students, including those successfully competing in national sales competitions. The “Peak” in the name comes from the fact that both men live in Colorado and Oldham has climbed many of the mountains. Different rooms are named after peaks in Colorado and feature pictures of the mountains.
Foote says if he had this technology available to him as a student, he would have been years ahead of where he was when he started his career.
“It took me four or five years to turn into a salesperson. I had to learn by doing. I think that lab can help people do it fairly quickly,” Foote said.
Both men want to elevate the sales profession.
“Sales has historically been tucked away under the marketing degrees and was a little bit of a neglected field professionally,” said Oldham. “A lot of universities just don’t give a sales track or sales degrees the same attention they do accounting, finance or even marketing. But if you really look at it, probably as many or more executives and CEOs come through the sales career track as any other track. So that enhancing sales education resonated with us. When they told us about the lab that they were contemplating putting in, we just thought that was a great idea. We said, let’s jump on this thing together because we have a common interest.”
About the men
When Foote was a student at Missouri State, he “hated” sales.
“I took extra law and extra accounting, so I wouldn’t have to take sales and marketing classes. I got out of college, and I ended up in sales from almost day one,” Foote said.
Foote grew up in Osceola, and when he thought about a salesperson, it had negative connotations. He never equated the fact that the gas station owner was a salesman or the little shop owners were all salespeople.
“I just thought it was important that people understand sales. There are sales in everything that you do. Everything! Everybody’s job has some sales in it. You have to sell at one point or the other. I just felt like it was important that people know more about sales and why it’s important,” Foote said.
Sales were pivotal for his future.
By 31, Foote owned his own business and was an independent entrepreneur the rest of his career.
Oldham was in a variety of sales roles. For the bulk of his career, Oldham sold software for the television broadcast industry. He is now CEO and managing partner at FrontPoint Advisors, a Denver-based management consulting firm focused on collaborating with and advising executives and boards on how to increase the efficiency, profitability and exit value of their businesses.
While Oldham lives in Denver, his alma mater still has a special place in his heart.
“When I think about what really helped me have a fulfilling career and be somewhat financially successful, two things stand out,” said Oldham. “One is my service in the Navy. The military opened my eyes. I got a chance to travel internationally and work with a lot of different kinds of people. The second thing was getting a college education. That was just such a great experience for me and opened my eyes to a lot of other opportunities. The education I got at Missouri State changed the direction of my life and I am proud to be a small part of helping others.”