Colton Cray is an associate at the law offices of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in Los Angeles. Mr. Cray represents clients in a wide range of transactional matters related to mergers and acquisitions, securities law and corporate governance. He has advised on a variety of public and private companies across industries including aerospace & defense, FinTech, entertainment, financial services, technology, and gaming & hospitality. Mr. Cray’s pro bono work includes facilitating National Adoption Day alongside the Alliance for Children’s Rights and work with local food banks. In law school, Mr. Cray studied international business law abroad in Lyon, France. Mr. Cray graduated magna cum laude from the University of Arizona Eller College of Management in 2014 (B.S.B.A. 2014, Finance, MIS, Operations Management, Entrepreneurship). He was named the 12th Frank Rothman Scholar to the USC Gould School of Law where he studied corporate and banking law. Mr. Cray’s hobbies include skiing, golfing, rec league sports and writing as a financial news satirist. His volunteer interests include work with youth ministry and preventing human trafficking. He is a native of Tucson, Arizona and remains a Wildcat for life.
5 Questions with Colton Cray (‘14)
Q. What is most surprising about being an entrepreneur?
A. What’s surprising is how much personal judgment and gut instinct are your guide. McGuire equips you with the tools and exposure you need, but ultimately you have to step into the arena. If it were easy, everyone would do it. There’s no orientation, no formal training program or guarantees.
Q. What was the most important lesson you learned in the Entrepreneurship Program?
A. The most important lesson I learned was how important it was to judge decisions on process, not results. When starting out, it was tempting to attribute undesirable results in our efforts as an effect of poor-decision making. Conversely, there was an equal temptation to attribute our successes to some enlightened, forward-thinking process we had. In reality, the results of our efforts were the results of a variety of circumstances and forces, not just our decisions, but those of other people, externalities we couldn’t control, and just plain luck. What was important was to remove our emotion and evaluate our decision-making skills with sober rationality and build on the lessons we learned, regardless of outcome.
Q. What impact has the Entrepreneurship Program had on your career or life?
A. The Entrepreneurship Program inspired me to bring the ‘startup mindset’ to the corporate world. When a client faces an issue — even clients at large, established, public companies — I approach it using the same creativity and tenacity I fostered at McGuire. I always try to imagine each issue as if it were Day 1 of the business, and I’m the founder. When I was a junior attorney, my boss once said: “Our clients don’t have legal issues, they have business issues and we’re the only ones who can solve them.”
Fun Fact: “I worked part-time as a stunt-man during my first semester at Eller.”
Q. What do you consider your biggest entrepreneurial success?
A. This sounds backwards, but my greatest entrepreneurial success was putting my startup on hold while I pursued a graduate degree and sought out a job in the corporate world. I knew we had a viable venture at McGuire, but timing and preparation are everything and sometimes the best decisions are when you say ‘no’ or ‘not yet.’ Postponing the project has allowed me to supplement my entrepreneurial skills heavily and master corporate law, governance and finance. Now I advise entrepreneurs and founders from a place of experience and get to help companies at more developed phases of their life cycles.
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
A. Bet on the jockey, not the horse!
Originally published at https://eller.arizona.edu on November 16, 2020.