MY family owned the Baltimore Orioles when it was a minor-league team. My great-grandfather recruited Babe Ruth. Babe's parents had sent him, an unruly son, to an industrial school that served as an orphanage. After seeing him pitch when he was 19, my great-grandfather became his guardian and signed him to the team.
Four days after I was born, my father, then the owner, whisked me off to spring training. When I was growing up, and the Orioles were a major-league team, Brooks Robinson would come to my birthday parties. I got batting lessons from another legendary Oriole, Frank Robinson, and met luminaries like Ralph Houk of the Yankees. It was a fun-filled childhood.
My dad sold the team in 1954 but stayed on in a number of roles. I attended Princeton, as he did, and I graduated in 1973 with a degree in religion. I'd always been fascinated by the subject, but I talked to a few educators I respected, like Redmond Finney, headmaster of the Gilman School, and Milton Eisenhower, a president of Johns Hopkins University, about whether to choose a more practical major. They said your undergraduate major teaches you how to learn, and that's most important. That solidified my choice.
The summer after my sophomore year, I served as assistant general manager of the Miami Orioles farm team and ran it for a month when the man who had the job had to leave for his own training in different work. He mentored me for a couple of months first.
After graduating, I worked three years in the brokerage business. The day I registered as a broker, in 1973, the Dow closed over 1,000, but it would soon drop several hundred points. I had always planned on getting an advanced degree to build on my finance and investment banking interest, but I chose law school to have more options.
I graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1979 and worked for Weinberg & Green of Baltimore for three years. Legg Mason, the financial services firm, was one of our clients. In 1982, I left to become a managing director at Legg Mason and stayed for 10 years.
In 1992, Legg Mason invested in what was then the Forensic Technologies International Corporation. I joined the board, which asked me to find a chief financial officer. I applied for the job and was selected. In 1993, I also bought an interest in the Orioles -- and am still a part-owner. In 1995, I was made president and C.E.O. of Forensic Technologies International, and the next year we changed our name to FTI Consulting and went public.
We now have 3,800 employees and offices in 24 countries. We assist with litigation support, economic analysis, technology, strategic communications and corporate restructurings. Recently, the trustee handling the Bernard L. Madoff fraud hired us to help with the planning effort to recover victims' money.
I've learned that the tone set at the top permeates an organization. You can talk about the importance of internal communication, but what most sends a message is the people you pick to lead.
Great C.E.O.'s can be charismatic, and geniuses. But they are lucky if they have those traits. If you pick great leaders and are honest with employees, it can mean the difference between winning and losing. Some leaders' biggest strength is that they show their humanity. Other leaders' strength is that they don't. It's a matter of personal style.
When he's not studying, my 20-year-old son, Jack, is a disc jockey. Like me, he loves music, as I did at his age. We've both played professionally at parties and dances. Also like me, he's had a negative cash flow because of it. We've both gotten $200 for a job, then spent $400 on musical equipment.
As told to Patricia R. Olsen.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.