College dropouts who became Millionaires

All of us have been told if you don’t go to School you cannot grow up in life, post the schooling our parents and everyone else in the world have told that college life and a degree is a crucial thing for you to survive in life. The question is does education makes you a millionaire? It may or mayn’t be! But to get a respectable job without a college degree it is next to impossible. But for some, it was persistence and self belief that made them tell the world, college degree isn’t what it makes you rich in life.

Look at few influential people in the world, who have created wealth and great product offerings through innovation and a strong determination to succeed in life.

Steve Jobs (Apple)

steve jobsSteven Paul Jobs was born in San Francisco on February 24, 1955 to two university students, Joanne Carole Schieble and Syrian-born Abdulfattah “John” Jandali, who were both unmarried at the time. Jandali, who was teaching in Wisconsin when Steve was born, said he had no choice but to put the baby up for adoption because his girlfriend’s family objected to their relationship.

The baby was adopted at birth by Paul Reinhold Jobs (1922–1993) and Clara Jobs (1924–1986), an Armenian American whose maiden name was Hagopian. According to Steve Jobs’s commencement address at Stanford, Schieble wanted Jobs to be adopted only by a college-graduate couple. Schieble learned that Clara Jobs didn’t graduate from college and Paul Jobs only attended high school, but signed final adoption papers after they promised her that the child would definitely be encouraged and supported to attend college. Later, when asked about his “adoptive parents,” Jobs replied emphatically that Paul and Clara Jobs “were my parents.”He stated in his authorized biography that they “were my parents 1,000%.”Unknown to him, his biological parents would subsequently marry (December 1955), have a second child, novelist Mona Simpson, in 1957, and divorce in 1962.

The Jobs family moved from San Francisco to Mountain View, California when Steve was five years old.The parents later adopted a daughter, Patti. Paul was a machinist for a company that made lasers, and taught his son rudimentary electronics and how to work with his hands. The father showed Steve how to work on electronics in the family garage, demonstrating to his son how to take apart and rebuild electronics such as radios and televisions. As a result, Steve became interested in and developed a hobby of technical tinkering.

Clara was an accountant who taught him to read before he went to school. Clara Jobs had been a payroll clerk for Varian Associates, one of the first high-tech firms in what became known as Silicon Valley.

Jobs’s youth was riddled with frustrations over formal schooling. At Monta Loma Elementary school in Mountain View, he was a prankster whose fourth-grade teacher needed to bribe him to study. Jobs tested so well, however, that administrators wanted to skip him ahead to high school—a proposal his parents declined.

Jobs then attended Cupertino Junior High and Homestead High School in Cupertino, California.At Homestead, Jobs became friends with Bill Fernandez, a neighbor who shared the same interests in electronics. Fernandez introduced Jobs to another, older computer whiz kid, Steve Wozniak (also known as “Woz”). In 1969 Woz started building a little computer board with Fernandez that they named “The Cream Soda Computer”, which they showed to Jobs; he seemed really interested.Jobs frequented after-school lectures at the Hewlett-Packard Company in Palo Alto, California, and was later hired there, working with Wozniak as a summer employee.

Following high school graduation in 1972, Jobs enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Reed was an expensive college which Paul and Clara could ill afford. They were spending much of their life savings on their son’s higher education.Jobs dropped out of college after six months and spent the next 18 months dropping in on creative classes, including a course on calligraphy.He continued auditing classes at Reed while sleeping on the floor in friends’ dorm rooms, returning Coke bottles for food money, and getting weekly free meals at the local Hare Krishna temple.Jobs later said, “If I had never dropped in on that single calligraphy course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.”

Bill Gates (Microsoft)

Gates was born in Seattle, Washington, to William H. Gates, Sr. and Mary Maxwell Gates. His parents are of English, German, and Scots-Irish descent.His father was a prominent lawyer, and his mother served on the board of directors for First Interstate BancSystem and the United Way. Gates’s maternal grandfather was J. W. Maxwell, a national bank president. Gates has one elder sister, Kristi (Kristianne), and one younger sister, Libby. He was the fourth of his name in his family, but was known as William Gates III or “Trey” because his father had the “II” suffix.Early on in his life, Gates’s parents had a law career in mind for him.When Gates was young, his family regularly attended a Congregational church.

At 13 he enrolled in the Lakeside School, an exclusive preparatory school.When he was in the eighth grade, the Mothers Club at the school used proceeds from Lakeside School’s rummage sale to buy a Teletype Model 33 ASR terminal and a block of computer time on a General Electric (GE) computer for the school’s students.Gates took an interest in programming the GE system in BASIC, and was excused from math classes to pursue his interest. He wrote his first computer program on this machine: an implementation of tic-tac-toe that allowed users to play games against the computer. Gates was fascinated by the machine and how it would always execute software code perfectly. When he reflected back on that moment, he said, “There was just something neat about the machine.”After the Mothers Club donation was exhausted, he and other students sought time on systems including DEC PDP minicomputers. One of these systems was a PDP-10 belonging to Computer Center Corporation (CCC), which banned four Lakeside students—Gates, Paul Allen, Ric Weiland, and Kent Evans—for the summer after it caught them exploiting bugs in the operating system to obtain free computer time.

At the end of the ban, the four students offered to find bugs in CCC’s software in exchange for computer time. Rather than use the system via Teletype, Gates went to CCC’s offices and studied source code for various programs that ran on the system, including programs in FORTRAN, LISP, and machine language. The arrangement with CCC continued until 1970, when the company went out of business. The following year, Information Sciences, Inc. hired the four Lakeside students to write a payroll program in COBOL, providing them computer time and royalties. After his administrators became aware of his programming abilities, Gates wrote the school’s computer program to schedule students in classes. He modified the code so that he was placed in classes with mostly female students. He later stated that “it was hard to tear myself away from a machine at which I could so unambiguously demonstrate success.”At age 17, Gates formed a venture with Allen, called Traf-O-Data, to make traffic counters based on the Intel 8008 processor.In early 1973, Bill Gates served as a congressional page in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Gates graduated from Lakeside School in 1973. He scored 1590 out of 1600 on the SATand enrolled at Harvard College in the autumn of 1973. While at Harvard, he met Steve Ballmer, who later succeeded Gates as CEO of Microsoft.

The Poker Room in Currier House at Harvard University, in which Bill Gates and Paul Allen formed Microsoft

In his sophomore year, Gates devised an algorithm for pancake sorting as a solution to one of a series of unsolved problemspresented in a combinatorics class by Harry Lewis, one of his professors. Gates’s solution held the record as the fastest version for over thirty years;its successor is faster by only one percent.His solution was later formalized in a published paper in collaboration with Harvard computer scientist Christos Papadimitriou.

Gates did not have a definite study plan while a student at Harvard and spent a lot of time using the school’s computers. Gates remained in contact with Paul Allen, and he joined him at Honeywell during the summer of 1974.The following year saw the release of the MITS Altair 8800 based on the Intel 8080 CPU, and Gates and Allen saw this as the opportunity to start their own computer software company. He had talked this decision over with his parents, who were supportive of him after seeing how much Gates wanted to start a company.

Dhirubhai Ambani (Reliance Industries)

Hirachand Ambani was a low wage villager. Hirachand and Jamnaben had two daughters – Trilochanaben and Jasuben – and three sons – Ramnikbhai, Dhirubhai and Natubhai. Dhirubhai was the second son. Just after Dhirubhai was through his annual matriculation examination and even before the result was out, Hirachand called him home (to Chorwad). Hirachand had been unwell for quite some time and had grown extremely weak and frail.

Hirachand asked his son the very night he reached home. “Well, I’ll tell you. You know I have been unwell for past several months. I cannot work any more. I know you want to study further but I can’t afford that any more. I need you to earn for the family. I need your money. The family needs it. You must work now. Ramnikbhai has arranged a job for you in Aden. You go there.”

Dhirubhai had really wanted to study for a bachelor’s degree, but his ambition melted when he looked into the anxious eyes of his sick father. “I’ll do as you say,” he said, and the very next morning he left for Rajkot to get his passport. Those days Indians were exempt from obtaining a visa for entering Aden, but there were rumors around that the No Visa regime was about to end any day. So he needed to hurry up before the visa rules changed. In a few days he was in Bombay to board the ship to Aden. It was on board the ship that Dhirubhai learnt from a Gujarati newspaper that he had passed his matriculation examination in second division.

On reaching Aden, Dhirubhai joined office on the very day of his arrival. It was a clerk’s job with the A. Besse & Co., named after its French founder Antonin Besse. Those days Aden was the second busiest trading and oil bunkering port in the world after London handling over 6,300 ships and 1,500 dhows a year.

And, there in Aden, A. Besse & Co. was the largest transcontinental trading firm east of Suez. It was engaged in almost every branch of trading business – cargo booking, handling, shipping, forwarding, and wholesale merchandising. Besse acted as trading agents for a large number of European, American, African and Asian companies and dealt with all sorts of goods ranging from sugar, spices, food grains and textiles to office stationery, tools, machinery and petroleum products. Dhirubhai was first sent to the commodities trading section of the firm. Later, he was transferred to the section that handled petroleum products for the oil giant Shell.

“Ilearnt business at Besse which was then the best trading firm this side of the Suez,” he used to tell friends in later years. He was quick on the uptake. He learnt the ways of commodity trading, high seas purchase and sales, marketing and distribution, currency trading, and money management. During lunch breaks he roamed the souks and bazaars of Aden where traders from numerous different continents and countries bought and sold goods worth millions of pounds sterling, the then global currency, during the day. He met traders from all parts of Europe, Africa, India, Japan and China. Aden was the biggest trading port of the times, a trading port where goods landed from all parts of the world and were dispatched to the farthest corners of different continents. Speculation in manufactured goods and commodities was rife all over the Aden bazaars.

Dhirubhai felt tempted to speculate but had no money for that and was still raw for such trading. To learn the tricks of the trade he offered to work free for a Gujarati trading firm. There he learnt accounting, book keeping, preparing shipping papers and documents, and dealing with banks and insurance companies., skills that would come handy when he launched himself into trading about a decade later in Bombay. At the Besse office during the day he polished his skills in typing and Pitman shorthand, drafting commercial letters, and composing legal documents.

At the boarding house where he lived with another twenty-five or so young Gujarati clerks and office boys, he devoted long hours of the night mastering English grammar, essay writing, current affairs and a host of subjects that took his fancy from week to week. He was the first to snatch the English, Gujarati and Hindi daily papers and weeklies as soon as they arrived by the ship every day. The Times of India, Blitz, Janmabhoomi and Navajeevan formed his favorite reading material. He also devoured all sorts of books, magazines and journals the passengers arriving from various European and Indian ports left in the ships and at the offices of various shipping agents.

“Of all the books I read so avidly those days one I remember most fondly are (Jawaharlal Nehru’s) the “Glimpses of World History” and the “Discovery of India,” he would recall long after his Aden days. “They were fat, big books but written in simple English and to me they opened a whole new world of adventure, of human wisdom and human folly. I began reading them not to learn of world history but to practice my English but once I opened their pages their breadth of vision had me in a thrall. I used to keep a dictionary by my side when reading these books and note down every new word I came across to increase my vocabulary. Later when I used to draft letters to ministers and senior officials during my early Bombay days, I used whole lot of quotations, phrases and impressive words from these two looks .”

He also gorged on dozens of books and magazine articles on psychology that became his favourite subject for a long time. “I learnt much from this class of my reading,” he sometimes said, “I learnt how we humans and animals love to be loved more than anything else, how we are driven by desire to earn the love, affection and honor of those around us, what it is to be a leader, how to motivate those whom we want to attain great heights, how ideologies and interests clash and reconcile or cancel each other.

“More than anything else I learnt that nothing big can ever be achieved without money, influence and power and I also learnt that money, influence and power alone cannot achieve anything in life, big or small, without a certain soft, delicate, sensitive, understanding human touch in all one’s deeds and words.”

After he thought he had learnt the basics of commodities trading, Dhirubhai began speculating in high seas purchase and sales of all sorts of goods. He did not have enough money of his own for such speculative trading. So he borrowed as much as he could from friends and small Aden shopkeepers on terms nobody had ever offered them. “Profit we share and all loss will be mine” became his motto. During lunch break and after office hours he was always in the local bazaar, trading in one thing or the other.

Soon, those around him found that he had an uncanny knack for such speculative trading. He seldom lost money in any deal. “I think I had an animal instinct about such trading but there was a lot of reading and understanding of market trends behind that animal instinct of mine. I read every bit of paper I could lay my hands on about what was happening around the world, I listened carefully to every word uttered in the market, picked every bit of gossip in the shipping circles and pondered long through the night in the bed about the pros and cons of every deal I wanted to make.”

Meantime, the Shell oil refinery and the first oil harbor came up in Aden in 1954, the year Dhirubhai returned home to Gujarat to marry Kokilaben. As expected, A. Besse & Co. became the agents for distribution of Shell refinery products. Dhirubhai had done well at the office during his first five years. Now he was sent on promotion to the oil filling station at the newly built harbour.

He liked the new job, though it was a lot more demanding than the desk job in the commodities section. Here he had to service the ships bunkering for diesel and lubricants. He enjoyed visiting the ships, making friends with sailors and the engine staff I heard from them first hand accounts of their voyages in different parts of the world of which he had until then read about only in books and magazines. And, here it was that he first began dreaming of one day building a refinery of his own.

“It was a crazy idea for a petrol pump attendant to want to build a refinery of his own, but that is the sort of crazy ideas I have been playing with all my life,” Dhirubhai recalled at the time Reliance’s 25 million ton oil refinery, the largest grassroots refinery in the world, went on stream in Jamnagar in 1999. “I have been able to build this refinery because I decided long years ago not to settle for anything else,” he said, “I had heard a Yemeni proverb in Aden “la budd min Sana’a wa lau taal al-safr” (You must visit Sana’a, however long the journey takes). I never forgot that saying.”

By the late 1950s it became clear that the British rule in Aden would not last long in the face of growing Yemeni movement for independence supported by Gamal Abdel Nasser’s revolutionary government from across the Suez. The large Indian community of Hindu and Parsee Gujaratis began preparing to move out of Aden. Some began returning home to India, while some chose to settle in Britain. Aden Indians those days were allowed to settle in Britain.

Where to go on leaving Aden was debated among the colony’s settlers heatedly everyday. Some of Dhirubhai’s friends told him that he should migrate to London where, considering his talents, acumen and guts, he could find better opportunities of growth. At the port and on ships at Aden he often heard glowing accounts of post-war Britain and the promises of a life of much greater ease there than one could ever hope to find in India.

Dhirubhai weighed his options.. By now he had saved some money and was thinking of setting up some business of his own. Although Dhirubhai’s father had died in 1952, he had in the meantime been blessed with his first son, Mukesh D. Ambani, in April 1957. Kokilaben and Mukesh were back home in India.The choice of opening a shop somewhere in London was tempting but he felt India was calling him home.

Those were exciting years in India. The country was in the midst of implementing the Second Five Year Plan which promised to build big industries, raise new big dams across many rivers, lay new roads through the length and breadth of the country, boost agricultural production to new record levels and set up a huge network of food grains procurement centers.

Though by the end of 1958, the newspapers coming from India were painting a rather gloomy picture of the country’s finances and foreign exchange reserves, there was also a new vigor and a new fervor in their reports of a new Rs 100 billion Five Year Plan then under preparation. The Plan promised to open massive new opportunities for growth for the country’s youth. Jawaharlal Nehru was daily exhorting the young to cast away their old ways and help build a new India. His words were stirring and roused the passions of every young Indian, especially of those living far away from the country.

Dhirubhai was now 26 years (1957), full of youthful vigor and vitality, and filled with high hopes for himself and for the new India of Nehru’s dreams. He just could not miss the excitement of being in India in such tumultuous times. He decided to return home, instead of going to London to live a life of ease there.

These are just few stories, there are others who became millionaires without a college degree to name a few Michael Dell (Dell), Henry Ford (Ford Motors), Subhash Chandra (Essel Group) and many others.

Content reproduced from Wikipedia

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