Mother Knows Best The Word on Dan and Steve Case--From Mom
By Andy Serwer

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Steve Case, CEO of AOL. Dan Case, CEO of Hambrecht & Quist. Brothers who head up two large, well-known, cutting-edge, highly successful public companies. How amazing is that? You gotta wonder what's the secret of the Case family's success. How were these guys brought up? Were they force-fed broccoli and spinach? What was their favorite board game?

Of course, there's only one person who really knows all of that stuff. That's right! Steve and Dan's mom. Do tell, Mrs. Case!

Turns out that if you ask Mrs. Case, or Carol, as she prefers to be called, she'll be happy to share her tips on parenting. And to hear her talk, she and her husband, Dan Sr., had more than a little to do with the fact that two of her boys turned out to be high-end CEOs. Carol, 68, and Dan Sr., 74, raised their brood in Makiki Heights, a neighborhood in Honolulu. Yup, that's right. Steve and Dan are born-and-bred Hawaiians. Fourth generation, in fact. (Or "old Kamaaina," as old Hawaiian families are called on the islands.) So do they surf? "No, Steve played basketball. Dan played tennis. They did bodysurfing, but they weren't into the whole surfing scene. They both enjoy teriyaki and Hawaiian foods." (Better watch out, Carol, you might start a run on pineapple.)

Mother Case was a teacher and a career counselor at Punahou School (a private school that the boys attended) and later a travel consultant; father Case is the senior partner at Case Bigelow Lombardi, one of the state's oldest law firms. Dan, 42, and Steve, 41, also have an older sister, Carin, 42, who's a kindergarten teacher in Northern California, and a younger brother, Jeff, 37, an insurance exec with Aon. "We had three of them in diapers at the same time," recalls Mrs. Case. "We really had to organize."

Did Mrs. Case know early on that she had two little CEOs on her hands? "Of course not. You never know something like that," she says. Then what's the secret to raising such successful kids? "I believe in love, availability, and direction," says Mrs. Case. "We gave our children chores and jobs, even on vacations. After dinner we would play cribbage. The loser did the dishes. That's the structure, but I would try to make myself available when they needed me. I'd be around the house and have a glass of iced tea with them."

Were Dan and Steve close? "Yes, as our middle children there was a togetherness. Their bedrooms were upstairs from our TV room, and they shared a bathroom. But they were also competitive. They both had typewriters, and you could hear them typing away their ad circulars." Ad circulars? "They were both little entrepreneurs. They had a business called Case Enterprises. They did mail order. They sold watches, seeds, and Christmas cards. They had paper routes. When Steve was older, he was also a rock concert promoter. They never really got into trouble. They were too busy." (Interestingly, the Cases sound a great deal like the family of one of Steve's archrivals, Bill Gates. Both families have fathers who are high-powered lawyers, while the mothers, Carol and the late Mrs. Gates, encouraged achievement and some healthy intra-family competition.)

Anyway, how were Dan and Steve different? "Dan was more the traditional student, honor roll, junior achievement. Steve was far more independent. He did what he wanted. He dabbled in photography and was co-editor of the school newspaper. Dan went to Princeton and was a Rhodes scholar--Bill Hambrecht made him a job offer before he went off to England. Steve went to Williams, where his Dad went. Dan is the more traditional son, calling on Sundays, for instance."

How much of the business do the boys share with you? Did Dan tell you he was going to merge H&Q into Chase? "No. We knew something was up, just like [when H&Q was in] discussions with Merrill Lynch. But he kept things pretty much under wraps." Ever give the boys any business tips? "I suggested to Steve that he send out a monthly letter to AOL customers, which he still does. Which, of course, raises the most pressing question: Do you have an AOL account? "My dear, I've had a free account since the world began. I'm addicted to it." Own any AOL stock? "Yes, you can't knock that." That's for sure. Especially when your son is the CEO.