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George and Molly Barbee


Family Beginnings. George Barbee was born on January 26, 1943, in Washington D.C. The Barbee name descends from French Huguenots who migrated from France and settled in Virginia. George’s great-grandfather, William Randolph Barbee, and his grandfather, Herbert Barbee, were both renowned marble sculptors. George’s great grandfather studied in Florence, Italy, and his notable works include marble cornice work on the U.S. Capitol and Confederate Heroes Monuments. One version of the monument is located in the Manassas Battlefield, and another version stands at the entrance to his home town of Luray, Virginia. George’s father was an entrepreneur who started a shipping, warehouse, and storage business that attracted over three hundred global clients as well as the U. S. State Department. As a result, his parents traveled internationally and welcomed into their home guests from all around the world. This exposure gave George an appreciation and understanding of other cultures and perspectives.

George attended Brown University where he was a history major and played soccer.

He then got an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

His first job was in the finance department at W. R. Grace in New York, but after

a year, he was fortunate to get an opportunity to join Wilkinson Sword, where

he helped bring to the market their innovative shaving technology. After a

few years in consumer products, he joined the Paper Mate division of

Gillette in Boston, and that’s where he met Molly Johnson, his wife to be.

Molly’s family is from Indianapolis, where she and her two brothers were born and grew up. Her mother traced their ancestors back to seventeenth century England, making Molly a “Colonial Dame.” Her father’s dad was an entrepreneur who owned several businesses. Her mother’s father worked for the Indianapolis Water Company and gradually moved up to become president. Molly went to Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, where she majored in math and played field hockey. After graduating, Molly got her first job at John Hancock and, after two years, went to work in market research at the Paper Mate division of Gillette in Chicago. Molly became a rising star in the sales department and eventually moved to Boston and took responsibility

for integrating sales forecasting with manufacturing for their hundreds of products.

Personal Intersections. When George was recruited to join products innovation at Paper Mate, he was impressed with Molly Johnson, who was already becoming recognized

as a female leader across Gillette and was the only female with a window office in Boston’s Prudential Center. They started spending a lot of time together, but they

say they were the last ones in the company to know that they were dating. They

were married in 1977 and moved to Scituate, Massachusetts, a small fishing village outside Boston. The only downside was the hour and a half commute into Boston

and back every day, which Molly mostly did herself because George traveled quite

a bit. After their two sons were born, Molly decided that she really wanted to be

at home with the children. At the same time, George had been thinking about

going entrepreneurial, so they left Gillette and began a new adventure.

George partnered with two friends to start a business that used the early stages

of artificial intelligence to offer personalized financial planning for the average

person. The next seven years were lean for George and Molly as the business

took a lot of twists and turns, but over time, The Consumer Financial Institute

became the largest independent provider of financial planning in the U.S.

George and Molly look back on these years as some of their best times. Despite work demands and lack of funds, they made time for fun adventures together with their

two sons and George’s two sons from a prior marriage. George says that

Molly was the family anchor who can be credited with creating a

closeness between the four boys that still exists today.

George loves to tell about activities that he and Molly have discovered and enjoyed together. For example, there was a renowned wood carver named Paul McCarthy

living and teaching classes in Scituate, so they decided to learn how to carve wood. Molly studied bird carving, while George learned how to make quarterboards (decorative carvings of name boards historically required on ships and now popular

on houses). One of them would go to morning classes, and the other would go to evening classes. They took turns watching the children to save babysitting expenses.

Giving Back. While George was building his business, Molly had a full schedule in Scituate. She joined a local tennis club, became president of the school parents’ association, headed up school fund raising committees, and taught church Sunday school classes. When her sons wanted to get into scouting, Molly started a cub scout troop and became their den mother, creating her own curriculum and activities.

When the boys in her troop were old enough to become boy scouts, she

inquired about being their leader and was informed that women were not

allowed to be boy scout leaders. Because they couldn’t have “Mrs. Barbee” as

their leader, none of her cub scouts continued with the scouting program.

The Right Place at the Right Time. George was responsible for Strategic Growth and Marketing at The Consumer Financial Institute. At the time, most financial planning was expensive and aimed at the very wealthy. The idea of providing reasonably priced financial planning to the average person caught the attention of The Wall Street Journal and NBC’s Today show. George has been invited many times to appear not only on Today but also on ABC’s Good Morning America, PBS, and CNN. The night before an appearance, George had a habit of waking up in the middle of the night searching for

a creative idea to illustrate his talking points to lay people. For example, he was asked to appear on Today the morning after the Black Monday stock market crash in October of 1987, when the market fell to where it had been a year earlier. During the night, he thought of the “Rip Van Winkle” effect, referencing the giant who fell asleep for a year. The next day, he explained to viewers that the Dow had shot up so high in the previous twelve months that, even with the plunge, the market had only dropped to where it

was a year before. If you had gone to sleep a year ago and had just woken up, it

would appear as if nothing had happened. He recommended taking a long-term,

multi-year view and not overreacting to market fluctuations. Audience response

was very positive, and he was invited back as a “regular” many times.

George’s business continued to expand into new markets and needed more venture capital. George called on potential investors, including Price Waterhouse (later PricewaterhouseCoopers) accounting firm, who said they did not do venture capital

but would consider buying the company. A few months later, in 1986, their business

was sold, and George and his two co-owners became partners at Price Waterhouse. George was able to convince the senior partner that global strategic consulting was a promising growth area in the early 90s, and over the next ten years, he traveled to forty different countries innovating the Global Client Service Partner role for PwC. Growing up in Washington, D. C., had given George an appreciation for other cultures, and he feels fortunate that during this time of his career he was able to travel to and learn from so many. He and Molly felt this exposure was important for their sons as well, and through the years they made a point to vacation abroad as a family every other year. Their sons have all lived overseas, and each has learned to speak a foreign language.

Beyond Retirement. PwC partners were required to retire at age sixty, so when

George was fifty-nine, he started thinking about what he should do next. He had

been mentoring rising young partners, and because he enjoyed that, Molly

thought he should pursue teaching. He had become reinvolved with University of Virginia Darden Graduate Business School, and when the school received a large donation to stir up innovation, George was asked to become Darden’s first

Batten faculty fellow and to bring a focus of innovation to the business

school. Since then, he has taught innovation, entrepreneurship, and marketing

strategy to hundreds of graduate students and MBA executives.

Over the years, George has taken thousands of pages of notes containing his business and personal observations about innovation from around the world. He eventually decided to organize these ideas into a book, which he titled 63 Innovation Nuggets for Aspiring Innovaters. It was published in 2015 and became a business best seller in initial markets. More information about the writing of the book and the nuggets

it contains is included in Feature Articles on the Enclavers website.

When George commuted from Boston to Virginia to teach, Molly would often go

with him and explore the Charlottesville, Virginia, area. They joined the Farmington Country Club, where Molly started taking golf lessons and discovered her golf game. She encouraged George to take golf school as well, and they now enjoy playing golf together wherever they go. Over the years, Molly has become quite skilled at the

game and has been club champion at multiple golf clubs. George says that

when they play together, he can be steady, but Molly can be a champ.

Family Matters. George and Molly have been blessed with four sons and seven grandchildren that are spread from Atlanta and D.C. to Montana. Their sons and daughters-in-law enjoy successful careers ranging from technology, banking,

and real estate to wind turbine farms, consulting, and law. Gathering all fifteen of

the family members together in one place is always a highlight for everyone.

George and Molly and their boys have always been very involved in sports.

As a family, they have spent a lot of time skiing together in New Hampshire

and Colorado, and many of these trips have included their seven grandchildren.

Besides tennis and biking, Molly has participated in sailing regattas

and golf tournaments, and George does swimming challenges.

Location, Location, Shell Point. After he retired, George asked Molly where they

should live. For decades, Molly’s family had spent summers in beautiful Leland, Michigan, at a cottage which George and Molly have taken over from her parents.

They love the natural beauty of the crystal-clear lake and the down to earth

people, so Molly suggested that they live in Leland full time. But George wanted

to be somewhere warm during the winter. They had owned and vacationed for

years at a timeshare at South Seas on Captiva and, after shopping around

the country, decided they liked Captiva best of all. In 2002, they bought a condo

at Lands End, and Molly soon became very active in the Captiva community.

She was a founding member of the Captiva Island Historical Society, where

she started the archives, created the newsletter, and designed the website.

She then joined the board of the Captiva Civic Association and has

worked for eight years curating their art exhibits, including

skillfully hanging and displaying the artwork herself.

Molly became friends with Jim Sprankle, who lives on Sanibel and is world-renowned for his wildfowl wood sculptures. It took a while, but Molly was finally asked by Sprankle to join his all-men’s wood carving classes. There she met Wayne Boyd, who has been a Sprankle class member for years and recently became the Barbees’

neighbor in The Enclave. Several of Molly’s bird carvings are displayed in their

home, along with her paintings and a scrapbook of family Christmas cards

with Molly’s creative drawings framing a photo from each year.

Friends introduced George and Molly to Shell Point, but they were not interested

at first. When Molly later saw The Enclave advertised in the newspaper, they decided

to take another look and were impressed with what they found here, especially

all the wonderful activities available to residents. They sold their condo at

Lands End and moved into The Enclave in 2021. They now spend their

winters at Shell Point and their summers in Leland, Michigan.

George is still on the faculty at Darden but is currently on sabbatical. He serves on several corporate boards in the D.C. area and has a number of selective consulting engagements. George and Molly like biking and golfing together and are having fun with the electric bikes they bought themselves for Christmas. They are in training

to do a future bike trip in Europe. Molly recently started a newsletter for the

Painters Guild at Tribby Arts Center and would like to get further involved at

the Tribby. She and George are thrilled to be living in The Enclave at Shell Point.

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