Dropping out is IN!

A friend of mine recently graduated from an American College, and was very happy that he got a job in one of the best companies in the world. Ecstatic, he “inboxed” me on FB, “After putting in all these years of education I can finally earn a buck load of money.” It made me wonder, he did not need “all these years of education” to earn his “buck load of money”. To begin with, the owner of his company did not study as much as him although my friend graduated from the same College that the owner had once enrolled for. For the ones waiting for a more elaborate description, many call my friend’s new employer as “Harvard’s most successful dropout”. Others just call him bloody rich. Bill Gates.

Incidentally, both the co-founders of Microsoft Inc. never completed formal education. Paul Allen and Bill Gates never formally graduated from College, yet Microsoft today employs the best scoring students across the world. Bill Gates was famously quoted saying, “I used to fail in a few subjects, but now many College toppers work for me.”

Are there more of these?

dropoutsAbsolutely! A recent survey indicates that more than 55% of billionaire entrepreneurs are dropouts.

Add to this list of dropouts the flamboyant Richard Branson, though he dropped out of School at the presumed tender age of 16, he is today one of the richest people on the planet. His success story sounds more like a fairytale when you hear that after his first successful business venture- “Student Magazine” (pretty ironical, eh?), he brought a 79-acre Caribbean land when he was just 24 and was even knighted in 1999! Today his business empire is spread across a vast array of over 360 companies.

Talking of successful dropouts, one can never forget the legendary Steve Jobs –one man who revolutionised the way we listen to music, our computing lifestyle and among the things that matter in today’s age- practically everything! Although a dropout, he did accept his gratitude towards his College education in his grand speech at Stanford, where he said that the calligraphy lessons he took at Reed College, formed the basis for the typography used in the first Macintosh Computer.

Dean Kamen, Ralph Lauren, Larry Ellison, Michael Dell and the conspicuous John D. Rockefeller (who is often regarded as the richest man in history even though he spent the last 40 years of his life in philanthropic activities), the list is vast, with new additions every day. Every minute, an entrepreneur leaps out for an idea buzzing in the air. The list doesn’t just end with entrepreneurs: Abraham Lincoln and George Washington were School dropouts too. History bears testimony to their success and influence over this world.

Has it always been their choice?

Sadly, no! Many dropouts did not have a choice. Ted Turner was in fact expelled from Brown University after he was caught with a woman in his dorm room-against College rule. John Lennon was an expelled student too. Others like Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie could never attend a formal school for one conspicuous reason- poverty. Having no formal education never seemed to be a problem for them as they strode on with their convictions and beliefs. The rest is history. The world remembers them, not for their degrees, but for their ideas- that one spark that changed the world for them and almost everyone around them.

But why give up formal education?

Because they are crazy people! Crazy about their passion! There are indeed times, when an idea is “too great to be put on hold until graduation.” Mark Zuckerberg fondly known as MarkZ by his billion supporters on Facebook was highly inspired by a speech Bill Gates gave at Harvard. Soon, he dropped College to pursue Facebook. Today he is the world’s youngest billionaire. (Though in technical terms that’s just on paper) These people sure sound crazy. But in the legendary Steve Jobs’ words, “Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who actually do.”

dropout entrepreneurs

Cool! Sounds like the perfect idea! Drop out of College and make millions!

Hang on! Not many of such dropouts get the coveted chance to “create history”. Obviously, many fail.

Well, then what is it that sets the likes of MarkZ, Gates, Jobs and Dell apart from the others? What is that special “magic potion” that sets them apart?

It’s a pretty obvious disclosure actually. Listen carefully! According to Steve Jobs, it is Passion. “If an individual is not passionate about his pursuit, when times get difficult- which they eventually will- the rational thing to do would be to give up.” Complementing his belief was Apple Inc.’s motto- Think different.

Alright! Thanks for confusing me! But can, or rather should I do it too?

Of course! It’s empowering! It’s the best way to challenge yourself, to know your limits which may not even exist. Education aims at mental, emotional and physical elevation of its student. When this student believes he has achieved the tools necessary to realise his dreams, he sets out to conquer them. Those tools are reckoned against the meanest forces of life, but if the core is strong, they survive and revolutionise the world.

Ideas however are not the only things that boost any start-up. Considerate execution of this idea is equally important for it to stand the test of time. Leaving your educational institute and your academic support is a big step, and we’re made to walk on the hottest coal to validate the verisimilitude of our beliefs and capabilities. Life always ensures that.

There are bound to be impediments, when someone treads this path. There will be blows that’ll put you down, make you doubt and even curse your decisions. Stick to your ideas- the very thoughts that propelled you in the first place. Richard Branson said in all his charisma, “Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.”

May better beget the best.

Note: We at Inc42 take our ethics very seriously. More information about it can be found here.

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