The man behind the celebs: Bobby Turner brings Ashton Kutcher to Penn

K. Robert "Bobby' Turner, right, and tennis star Andre Agassi. Credit: Provided
K. Robert “Bobby’ Turner, right, and tennis star Andre Agassi. Credit: Provided

Real estate mogul K. Robert “Bobby” Turner has brought celebrities like Eva Longoria and Andre Agassi to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania for his speaker series. On Wednesday, he brings Ashton Kutcher. But the man behind the celebrities may set the local media atwitter while he himself is virtually ignored.

Ironically, it’s Turner’s ideas about education, urban real estate development and definition of success in business that could change the world.

Turner, CEO and co-founder of the $3.5 billion Canyon Capital Realty Advisors based in Los Angeles, is a radical in an Armani suit. He tells Wharton students: “You should not define success by making financial change working at an investment bank. Rather, you should define it by the amount of meaningful change you make in the world.”

To encourage new definitions of success, he is working closely with Wharton to design a multi-disciplinary social impact curriculum that he will fund.

“Generations Y and Z want different things than previous generations did. I want to better prepare them with the necessary tools to be able to seek out and obtain jobs that inspire them,” said Turner.

He cites the success of shoe retailer TOMS, which donates a pair of shoes to a third world country for every pair purchased, as an indication of changing social mores. His dream for the program is “a student, who has an idea to solve childhood obesity, will be able to consult with the medical school and the nursing school as well as their Wharton professors.”

Turner practices what he preaches. His new fund, the Canyon Multifamily Impact Fund, will leverage his charter school partnership with former tennis star Andre Agassi to holistically upgrade the neighborhood in which they own buildings.

“A real estate developer makes money by raising rents or eliminating vacancies,” he said. “Buildings typically have 100 percent turnover in 18 to 24 months. The empty apartments not collecting rents are a huge cost to the landlord. Parents will want to live near their children’s schools. We plan to add security to make the neighborhoods safer. Thus, the buildings will become desirable.

Locally, Turner’s Canyon Agassi Charter School Fund was instrumental in establishing the KIPP charter schools in North Philadelphia. While acknowledging that advocating for charter schools can be controversial, he insists they are excellent operators.

Bringing Ashton Kutcher to town

Ashton Kutcher, who is television’s highest paid actor for his role on “Two and Half Men,” will be speaking Wednesday at Penn. The event, open only to school staff, students and alumni, is sold out. About 3,000 will be there.

“We announced Ashton Kutcher’s talk and it sold out in two hours,” Turner proudly noted.

He expects Kutcher, who is revered in the tech world for his early investment and support of Skype, Foursquare and Flipboard, to talk about how having a sick brother affected his life and his charity Thorn that fights against the sexual exploitation of children using technology.

At the Teen Choice Awards, Kutcher urged kids to work hard (“I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work”). The heartthrob defined sexy as “being really smart.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.