Jim Linck understands the value of competition. As a distinguished chair in finance at the SMU Cox School of Business, he educates his students about the importance of competition in a market economy. But as an Ironman triathlete, cyclist and marathon runner, he knows how competition can transform a person.

Linck and his twin brother, Paul, grew up in Ravenna, Michigan, a small town of 900 near Grand Rapids. He started running as a way to improve his health and relieve stress, especially when he was working on his Ph.D. But Paul gave him the necessary nudge toward competitive racing.

“He drags me into everything,” Jim Linck says of his twin. “He started running races. Then I started running races — first 5K, then 10K, then half-marathons and marathons. We usually did the long stuff together. It was our time together.”

In pursuit of a new challenge, Paul competed in his first Ironman and fell in love. He tried to convince his brother to give it a try, but Jim was hesitant. He hated swimming, and he hadn’t biked much. So, Paul bought his brother a bike, and then at Christmas, Paul signed them both up for an Ironman. There was no way out.

“So, I had to learn how to swim,” Jim says.

He finds joy in competing, in both racing and in his work at SMU Cox.

He has devoted much of his career to helping students succeed in the business world. Last spring, he was awarded the Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Award to recognize his many years of teaching excellence at SMU. He has taught a wide range of courses at SMU Cox — everything from financial management and research methods to corporate control and international finance. He also serves as the finance department chair, leading a department that has become one of the most popular programs at SMU.

In the business world, competition is the catalyst — the necessary nudge of our economy. “Competition drives innovation. Competition drives price reductions. It drives increased value to the consumer.”

On a personal level, Linck realizes how competition can motivate people to do things they never thought possible. Ultimately, it enriched his relationship with his brother.

”We motivated each other for a long time. ‘I did 20 miles today. You better do it tomorrow.’ There was a lot of that. At this stage in our life, it’s like if he wins, I win. If I win, he wins.”  

The Ultimate Competition

The Ironman Triathlon sets the standard for grueling one-day events, requiring significant training, time and resources. The event consists of:

  • 2.4-mile swim
  • 112-mile bike ride
  • 26.22-mile run

Over the years, Jim has competed in:

  • 19 Ironmans
  • 25 Half-Ironmans
  • 50 or so marathons