Success stories of School Dropouts – Part II

Michael Dell
Position: Founder/CEO, Dell
Market Cap: $30 billion

Most 19 year olds would spend a thousand dollars on a spring break weekend, or a put it toward buying a new car, but Michael Dell spent his $1,000 founding Dell .

The founder and CEO of Dell expanded his company with the idea that ‘technology is about enabling human potential.’ In 1992, he became the youngest chief executive to earn a ranking on Fortune magazine’s ‘Fortune 500’ list. His staff also grew from a one-man operation to 100,000 employees in just eight years.

Today, the company provides information-technology services for global corporations, governments, health care providers, small and medium businesses, education institutions, and home computing users.

Dell is not the only company this CEO has had a hand in creating. Dell founded MSD Capital in 1998 and a year later launched the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, a philanthropic organization for global issues.

Mark Zuckerberg

Position: Founder/CEO, Facebook
Company Value: $100 billion (Recent estimate)

Although Facebook isn’t publicly traded, we can’t leave this chief executive out of a successful college-dropout list-besides you are probably on his site everyday.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, showed an early interest in computers. As a child, he created early communication tools and games from his bedroom. In high school, he created an MP3 program and soon received offers from AOL and Microsoft , which he ignored.

After being accepted at Harvard University, Zuckerberg built a program called Facemash, which showed pictures of students and allowed their peers to vote on who was more attractive.

Eventually, word of Zuckerberg’s talent spread and fellow Harvard students Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss asked him to work on an idea for a social networking site called Harvard Connection. Zuckerberg decided to drop out of the project soon after and began work on a different social networking site, which he originally named TheFacebook.com.

Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard before graduating to put all of his focus on the social networking site, which could be worth as much as $100 billion if Zuckerberg ever takes the company public.

Paul Allen
Position: Co-Founder, Microsoft
Market Cap: $226.2 billion

Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates, his childhood friend, is another chief executive who never got a college degree.

According to Allen’s memoir, ‘Idea Man,’ Allen was inspired to write a coding language when he saw the Altair 8800 computer on the cover of a Popular Electronics magazine. Allen knew Gates and he both had the skills to code a programming language for the Altair and after convincing his friend to collaborate, the pair ushered in a new technological era.

Today, Allen has a multibillion-dollar investment portfolio, which includes multiple technology and media companies, along with a major real estate redevelopment in Seattle.

Allen also owns the Seattle Seahawks football team, the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team, and is part of the primary ownership group for the soccer team Seattle Sounders Football Club. Allen has given away more than $1 billion toward his philanthropic efforts and has said he plans to leave the majority of his estate to charities.

Bill Gates
Position: Co-Founder/Chairman, Microsoft
Market Cap: $226.2 billion

College dropouts such as Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz are not the only successful business founders who attended, and then left, Harvard University. Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft , enrolled at Harvard as a freshman in 1973. Gates, who lived down the hall from Microsoft’s current chief executive, Steve Ballmer, created BASIC, a programming language for the first microcomputer, during his first year of college.

Gates dropped out of Harvard in his junior year to concentrate all his efforts on a company he called Micro-soft with his childhood friend Paul Allen. As if founding Microsoft wasn’t enough, Gates went on to found Corbis , one of the world largest resources of visual information. He also earned a seat on the board of directors for Berkshire Hathaway , an investment company engaged in diverse business activity.

Steve Jobs
Position: Founder/CEO, Apple
Market Cap: $362.4 billion

As a young boy, this college dropout showed an early interest in computers. When he was 12, Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple , called Bill Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett Packard , after finding his number in the phonebook. When Hewlett answered, Jobs said, ‘Hi I’m Steve Jobs. I’m twelve years old and I’m a student in high school. I want to make a frequency counter. I was wondering if you had any spare parts I can have?’

Hewlett gave Jobs the spare parts and hired him that summer to work on the assembly line at his company. During this time, Jobs formed a friendship with Stephen Wozniak, a soon-to-be dropout from the University of California at Berkley.
Jobs enrolled at Reed College after high school, but he later dropped out. He connected once again with Wozniak and the pair quit their jobs to start production on a computer in Jobs’ garage.

There are different versions of how the pair came up with the name for Apple. The best-known story comes from Jobs summer spent working on an apple orchard and his love for the fruit. The bite in the side of the apple is said to be a play on the computer term ‘byte.’

In a biography, Jobs said he was worth more than $1 million when he was 23, $10 million when he was 24, and $100 million when he was 25. Apple went from a garage-based operation to a multi billion-dollar, worldwide corporation, and it all started with two college dropouts tinkering in a garage.

http://www.sify.com/finance/Biggest-businesses-run-by-college-dropouts-imagegallery-others-ligr0gjbcbf.html#galname

Advertisements

Inspirational quotes by Steve Jobs

Here are some key quotes from Steve Jobs, the legendary co-founder and former chief executive of Apple Inc, who died after a years-long battle with cancer.

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do”

“And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”

“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

“Innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.”

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

“There’s nothing that makes my day more than getting an e-mail from some random person in the universe who just bought an iPad over in the UK and tells me the story about how it’s the coolest product they’ve ever brought home in their lives.

That’s what keeps me going. It’s what kept me five years ago, it’s what kept me going 10 years ago when the doors were almost closed. And it’s what will keep me going five years from now whatever happens.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/itslideshow/10257607.cms

Published in: on October 6, 2011 at 5:17 pm  Comments (5)  
Tags: , , ,

Lesssons to Learn from Steve Jobs

One company and one man had transcended all possible economic, geographic and demographic boundaries and become relevant to the entire world! The entire world, but almost! That’s huge, by any standards. And what a journey it has been… Travelling this disruptive road, Steve has also taught us many valuable lessons . While I’m sure experts will have a long list of those, I personally find three learnings most relevant to all business leaders.

The first of which being the courage to take the “leap” – Sometime back I read this interview of John Sculley, ex-CEO of Apple, who provided some great insights on Jobs.

Steve, he says, did not believe in consumer research. The reason is simple; he was going to create a product so new and innovative that the consumers would have no reference to react in foresight. “How can I possibly ask somebody what a graphics-based computer ought to be when they have no idea what a graphic based computer is? No one has ever seen one before.” He once said.

Jobs believed that showing someone a calculator, for example, would not give them any indication as to where the computer was going to go because it was just too big a leap. The rules of the game were made very simple with that one maverick thought, the winners of tomorrow would be the products who take us on a big leap, the one never seen, never heard before! I am also tempted to ponder here briefly on the biggest question that is on everyone’s lips today – would this obsession with breakthrough innovation continue to be Apple’s calling? I seriously hope so. After all, we need many more of the ‘never befores’.

Coming back to the learnings, the second lesson has been the need to focus on powerful ideas. As he once famously said, “You have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy. The best idea must win, not the ‘best person’ with the most power or seniority”. No wonder Apple was able to churn out one powerful product after another. Structures aligned to collaboration, innovation and human intellect is also a concept very close to my heart and I’m sure somewhere Mr Jobs has been an indirect influence on this thought process.

The third lesson, however is the one most people tend to miss. We must never forget that Jobs introduced us to the merit of ‘experience’. One almost forgets that Jobs built a phenomenally successful chain of retail stores, which became a benchmark for consumer experience. All of us who have bought Apple products will remember forever the experience of amazement we felt the first time we walked into an Apple store or simply the experience of the very user-friendly Apple devices.

Vineet Nayar – The author is Vice chairman & CEO, HCL Technologies and wrote this piece for ET while on a flight from London to Munich).

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-08-26/news/29931789_1_apple-s-steve-jobs-big-leap-innovation/2

Published in: on September 5, 2011 at 4:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

Stay Hungry Stay Foolish – Lessons by Steve Jobs, CEO Apple Computers

This is the text of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005.
I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.
The first story is about connecting the dots.
 
I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out? 

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

 

t wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky âs  I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation – the Macintosh – a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me – I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I retuned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

 

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.