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“How A Broken Back Helped Me Follow My Heart” – The Bill Warner Story

“How A Broken Back Helped Me Follow My Heart” – The Bill Warner Story

Most of the startup are launched in a bid to solve some sort of problems. This need drives the entrepreneur to search for the market opportunities and to further scale the product. A similar thing happened with Bill Warner – a Boston-based angel investor, the founder of Avid Technology, Inc. and Wildfire Communications, Inc.- although in a different manner.

Bill, in his childhood days was so attached with his 6 years older brother, that when he went off to college, Bill’s life got shaken up. “I can’t believe he was actually gone. It was a huge thing for me and in those days even the telephones were too expensive.”

Later, he found solace in his favourite TV show, Star Trek – noted in the world as an inspiration for several technological inventions, including the cell phone and tablet computers. However, Bill was more inclined towards the philosophical side it portrays, and how a certain character always wins by following his heart. “I intend to help people follow their heart. I believe people are pushed to follow their head. This is tragic.

However, Bill was not the same man in his initial days. He did the same mistake that majority of us do – Follow his head. “I took my head to St. Louis, where I went college. When I got there I decided to do major in economics, because it sounded like a good thing to do. I spend a lot of time trying to be a good student. I thought I was mired in inventing myself, I was lost in that.”

But, the destiny had something else in mind for Warner. In February 1974, he got the spinal cord injury and his life changed. “There was a moment that I came back to my room and I was so frustrated with everything, all the stuff that I was trying to figure out of who I was and what  I would be. There was a big cardbox there and I just started smashing out the hell out of it and I just smashed the pieces and I remember, at that moment I said to myself, I can’t afford this crap.”

He further tells about one of his friend whose hands and legs were paralysed and he was so miserable that sometimes he couldn’t even call someone for help. “This gave me two learnings. First, I am too lucky and second, that I could actually help and give him control of things.”

So, he made a whistle switch for him and hung it over his bed, hooked up a light to it and he loved it. “This ended up affecting the next couple of years of life. I built the whistle system, and this controls lives and changes TV channel and so forth. I was 19 when I started it and than I ended up going to MIT.”

This set him on the path not of economics but of technology and instead of being what he should be he started being who he was. Later he started Avid Technology. After that, Bill went through a series of ups and down in his life and every time he realised that whenever he has followed his head, he made losses.

“Working with heart does best for me. However, it does not mean that one should not follow his head. Both works and sometimes, even any of them doesn’t work.  So, I will say, use your head but follow your heart and you will always have a leg up.”

Check out the full version of Bill Warner’s story in the video Below:

Author

Meha Agarwal

Inc42 Staff

Meha has engineering and MBA degrees, but she has always been a writer at heart. It was the perfect combination of utilising her research and analytical skills and her enthusiasm for writing that sparked her interest in writing about the Indian startup ecosystem – the latest tech and gadgets and the startups that create them. She is always on the lookout for industry-specific stories in niche areas of interest such as ecommerce, fintech, greentech and more.

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