April 11, 2017
John Burke is the current president and chief executive officer of Trek Bicycle Corporation and the author of works such as “12 Simple Solutions to Save America” and “One Last Great Thing: A Story of a Father and a Son, a Story of a Life and a Legacy.” Burke is an avid reader, and keeps an up-to-date list of the 50 favorite books he’s ever read.
Burke’s father, Richard (Dick) Burke, along with Bevil Hogg, founded Trek Bicycle in 1975. In 1980, Trek began constructing the company’s current corporate headquarters in Waterloo, Wisconsin. Burke is a graduate of Boston University and the younger brother of former Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Commerce and Democratic candidate for the 2014 Wisconsin gubernatorial election, Mary Burke.
John Burke began working at Trek Bicycle in 1984 and has held his current role as president and CEO of the company since 1997. Beyond his decorated career with Trek, Burke has previously served as chairman of President George W. Bush’s President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and he is also one of the founding members of the Bikes Belong Coalition.
John is an avid cyclist himself, and has finished Ironman Wisconsin multiple times as well as the Boston and New York Marathons. In 1997, Trek signed a sponsorship contract with former 7-time consecutive Tour de France champion (1998-2005*) cyclist Lance Armstrong, who would go on to ride for the United States Postal Service Pro Cycling Team the following year. Prior to being stripped of all cycling achievements and results between ’98 – ’05 due to long-term doping offenses, Armstrong had become the first American to win the Tour de France aboard an American bike in 1999.
John Burke shared 12 key words of advice for every student striving for success to keep in mind:
1. “Make your bed every morning. If you can’t do the little things, you will never do the big things.”
2. “You are interviewing every single day.”
3. “You are what you read. Readers are leaders.”
4. “Nothing good happens after midnight.”
5. “Never give up. Don’t ever ring the bell.”
6. “You are capable of more than you think.”
7. “[Assemble the] Best team on the field. Who’s on your team?”
8. “Fire the unhappy employees.”
9. “Climb the mountain to see the world, not so the world can see you.”
10. “Pay it forward…” Do a favor for someone who can’t return it to you.
11. “Just show up… on time.”
12. “Do something for your country.”
Thank you to John Burke for taking the time to share his invaluable insight and speak with our club about his journey with Trek Bicycle Corporation!
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