Skip the College and Get Rich – Lessons from Steve Jobs

You go to work and do your job. You come home and spend time with your wife and kids. You sleep feeling happy. You go to work, do your job, pay your bills, care for your children, obey the law, buy products month after month and you’re happy. You’re really and truly happy. It feels good to do the best you can do, to keep improving and doing everything required of you. Sometimes you think of other people who are poorer or richer than you but you’re comfortable with where you are. As you get older, you grow weary of your job. It’s no one’s fault but it’s just how time goes. Time breathes change into you and you need something new, something different. You keep going to work and doing your job, but you start planning for what comes next. You start saving your money, and this time it’s not for vacation or a new car or television. This time you’re saving money in order to take a huge gamble on yourself. You keep developing your idea and watch it evolve into something tangible, something you believe people will want and love. You spend the next year going to work but always returning home to work on this new project, this new business. Every day it becomes more realized, more possible, and then you’re finally ready to show it to the world. You quit your job and unveil your new company, which begins slow, which is why you saved money. You knew you’d need to go at least a few years without a salary, so you keep pushing and pushing. Gradually, it picks up but every success meets countless disappointments and difficulties. You’re too old now to start over again. You need this to work because if it doesn’t then there’s nothing left. Money becomes tight even as your kids are preparing to go to college. You wonder how you’ll pay so you work harder, always pushing more and more. As your first child enters college, you begin making a profit. It’s small, but it’s a success and you rejoice with your family, going out to dinner. At the restaurant you see story after story about the man who just died, who founded several wildly successful companies and is now worth billions. He never graduated college like you did. He never worked for other people year in and year out the way you did. You know it wasn’t a waste, all the years you spent doing what you did, but you wonder what life could’ve been like if you had been a bit braver, a little more reckless, a lot more imaginative.

Steve Jobs is often regarded as one of the most influential people of the last thirty years. He changed the way we experience music, film, and the way we use computers and phones. Often referred to as the Father of the Digital Revolution, he was the creative and visionary force behind Pixar, NeXT, and Apple, developing some of the most widely used and recognized electronic devices currently used. Steve Jobs was a legendary entrepreneur who was both kicked out of the first company he founded and then asked to take it over years later. He rose to the top of Disney, becoming a member of the board of directors after turning Lucasfilm’s computer graphics division into Pixar, which was acquired by Disney. He oversaw the development of iMac, iTunes, iPod, iPhone, and iPad, which is, perhaps, what he’ll be best remembered for.

But how did he get there? Who was Steve Jobs before he was the man we all knew and recognized?

Steve Jobs was adopted at birth and raised in California in 1955. Though he came to know he was adopted, he never questioned who his parents were, considering his adopted parents his only true parents. Jobs’ father worked as a mechanic and carpenter and taught Jobs how to work with his hands and also gave him lessons on rudimentary electronics. With his father in their garage, Jobs learned to take apart and rebuild electronics, such as radios and televisions, which became a passion of his. In addition, his mother taught him to read before he went to school, a place that Jobs found frustrating and limiting. He frequently got in trouble for playing pranks on others, eventually skipping a grade. He and a few of his boyhood friends became interested in computers, and they built computers together.

After high school, Jobs went to college for only six months but spent the following eighteen sitting in on classes for free and sleeping on the floors of his friends’ dormrooms. He returned soda bottles for food money and got meals at the local Hare Krishna temple.

Jobs’ friend, Steve Wozniak, designed his own version of the video game, Pong, which he gave to Jobs, who took it to Atari. Believing that Jobs had built it, they gave him a job as a technician. He was known for being very difficult to work with but incredibly intelligent and valuable. After working for Atari for for nearly two years, Jobs left the US to travel India for seven months in search of spiritual enlightenment. Upon his return he experimented with psychedelics and became a serious practitioner of Zen Buddhism, which would remain central to his life.

After these experiences, he returned to Atari and created several arcade games for them. Despite having little specialized knowledge, he and Wozniak made a deal to work together and split the fees paid. Following Wozniak’s further designs, Jobs decided they could work together to make electronics fun and profitable, which would become Apple in 1976. Wozniak was the technician behind Apple but Jobs was the entrepreneur. Without Jobs, Wozniak may never have sold anything, but Jobs turned his machines into a business. Jobs brought charisma and a dynamic personality to Apple and pushed for new innovative products. He took big risks and gambled on the market and his own belief and designs. Despite this, he was a demanding and difficult person to work with, which led to a power struggle between him and the board, resulting in him leaving the company.

Rather than sulk about losing the company he founded, he immediately jumped back into computers. In retrospect, he called it one of the best things that ever happened to him. He founded NeXT Inc immediately after leaving Apple, developing the NeXT Workstation, which was highly advanced but extremely expensive. Finding little traction in the commercial market, he marketed the products to financial, scientific, and academics highlighting its innovative technologies. Tim Berners-Lee would use the NeXT to invent the World Wide Web.

After NeXT, Jobs bought the graphics division of Lucasfilms and renamed it Pixar, which would go on to become one of the most successful animation studios in history, with a succession of incredibly popular films, like Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, and Up. By 1996, Apple bought NeXT, bringing Jobs back into the company. From this point, he would revolutionize electronics once more taking Apple from the brink of bankruptcy to one of the most profitable companies in the world.

As you can see, the journey of Steve Jobs had very little to do with formal education. Unlike Bill Gates, a contemporary and competitor, Jobs never took college seriously and quit rather quickly. Jobs took a winding road to his success, which brought him through the counter-culture of the 70s, eastern spiritualism, and intense capitalism to grow Apple and Pixar into the companies we all recognize now.

Steve Jobs was a rare genius who believed so fully in himself and his ability to succeed that success became natural to him. He had a keen eye for design, functionality, innovation, and branding. His rebranding of Apple products in the 2000s turned Apple into a multibillion dollar company, and launched his estimated wealth into the billions along with it, though he only took a $1 a year salary.

He was a demanding perfectionist, and this is perhaps what he owes his success to, along with his abilities. He constantly sought to be ahead of the curve, pushing for products that would set the next trend. This led to a real emphasis on innovation and design. However, the personality traits that made him a success also made him incredibly difficult to work with, and he was named one of the toughest bosses in the US.

His charisma and drive created a “reality distortion field,” which is the term coined by Bud Tribble to describe Jobs’ effect on his developers. Because of his strong belief in his projects and his unrelenting charisma, his developers worked harder and better, more creatively. He had a magnetism that carried Apple and the public with him.

There are few men like Steve Jobs in history, and there will likely be few in the future. He was a man who needed little guidance in life because he was building new roads for the world to travel. He opened the eyes of humanity to new possibilities. He was a visionary and a formal education never even entered his mind as an essential part of life. He learned through experience, which can maybe be attributed to all those years he spent with his father tinkering with electronics in their garage.

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Skip the college and get rich – lessons from Bill Gates

(this is a series of blogs. Find more blogs here -> Skip the College & Get Rich)

This young boy is an apprentice carpenter. He begins his education at an early age. Every day he goes to his journeyman who educates him. He learns first how to use his tools, discovering which tools are better for each task. As each day goes on, his hands become surer and his knowledge more full. Once he understands the tools, he begins doing simple tasks, such as hammering nails, measuring and cutting lumber. His enthusiasm pulls him in new directions. With each new tool and technique, the wood reveals more of its secrets to him. His studies continue and he finetunes his skills, but he discovers as he ages that the real lessons are learned on his own. He spends less time with his instructor and the other Journeymen or apprentices. He goes to the woods, finds the right wood and cuts down his own trees. He experiments with his tools creating tables and chairs of his own design. Eventually, he goes out into the town and finds work for himself. He sells his tables and chairs and gains commission for new items. Eventually he no longer even returns to his instructors. He simply works, and his woodworking is praised for its innovative design and construction.

Sometimes you discover that everything you need to know can’t be taught in a formal setting.

Everyone knows Bill Gates, and everyone knows he never finished his college studies at Harvard. He’s also currently the richest person in the world for the first time since 2007, though he has consistently been in the top three for the last twenty years.

So how do we move from college dropout to wealthiest person in the world? Let’s start back a few decades.

His parents promoted the ideas of hard work and inventiveness, which instilled a very strong entrepreneurial nature into Gates as a child. When he was thirteen, he bought his first computer, which began a lifetime interest in programming. Because of this interest, he was allowed to miss math class to pursue programming, and he developed his first successful program at this time. He fell in love with machines and how they always gave a perfect result if you programmed it properly. Once, he and a few other students were even banned from Computer Center Corporation for exploiting bugs in their system in order to gain more free access to the computers. Eventually, CCC gave them free time in exchange for their work on finding the bugs in the programming. Eventually he was given a job writing code, and was even hired by his high school.

He scored a near perfect score on the SATs and attended Harvard after finishing high school. At Harvard, he met his future successor at Microsoft. While only a sophomore in college, he developed an algorithm to complete an unsolved problem. His record for speed of solution lasted for thirty years, with the new record being only 1% faster.

While at Harvard, Gates didn’t follow a set pattern or take classes in a specific direction. He spent much of his time working on computers and developing the skills he would need at Microsoft. Seeing the possibility to start his own software company, he dropped out of Harvard and threw himself into his endeavors.

He contacted Micro-Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems to tell them he was working on an interpreter for their Altair platform. In reality, he had done no such thing, but this got him a meeting with the President of the company. Over the following weeks he and his colleagues worked to complete this program, finishing on time and beginning a partnership with MITS that became Microsoft. After just a few months, he separated from MITS, creating software for a variety of companies, and personally overseeing every line of code the company produced, often rewriting it, while managing the business.

In 1980, he was approached by IBM to create the operating system for their new personal computer. Windows came into the world in 1985, which would go on to become the world’s largest computer software company.

As CEO and chief software architect, he launched the personal computer revolution which turned him into the incredibly wealthy man he is today. Since leaving Microsoft, he’s devoted much of his time, energy, and money to philanthropic efforts.

But the questions remains: how did a college dropout rise so high? How did he go from the kid in the library messing with computers to the man who changed the world through computers? And how did dropping out of college make this possible?

While there’s no way to say that Bill Gates would have been more or less successful had he finished his education at Harvard, it’s hard to argue with the results. Like many people, formal education just wasn’t the key to his success. There are certain things that are undeniably true about what happened when he dropped out of college.

If you take your classes and do your homework, you’re devoting a lot of time and mental energy into those studies. In addition, there’s the financial cost of continuing education. Without the time and cost of formal education, Gates was able to fully throw himself into his entrepreneurial pursuits. It’s clear that Gates was a very intelligent but unfocused student. Early in his education, he was already stealing time to work on computers rather than spend them in class or doing homework. This escalated as time went on, and it appears clear that he went to college more as an expectation than a necessity. During his two college years, he continued to devote a lot of time computers, writing code, and developing software.

The moment he saw an opportunity to go out on his own, he didn’t hesitate. He jumped immediately into his passion: computers. With the freedom to work on the projects he was passionate about, he was able to begin writing programs for the Altair, which is what launched his career. After some immediate successes, he was able to catapult his company into an enormous worldwide software company.

Let’s break down the way Bill Gates made himself a success:

Acting strategically – Rather than just innovating and innovating and innovating, Gates viewed software as a potential source of business opportunities before anyone else.

The right partners – He wasn’t afraid to sit behind bigger companies and learn from them. He positioned himself underneath MITS, Digital Research, and IBM and used them to launch him into the huge success he became.

Discipline and tenacity – He helped his partners succeed and did whatever he could to help them achieve their goals, which, of course, furthered him as well. Even when working for companies like IBM was said to be very difficult, he stuck with it and gained success, though he had to give up his own meticulousness and perfectionism.

Gates further acknowledges the limitations of education, though he’s become a very devoted funder of education reform and improving the American school system. Throughout his career he’s discussed things you don’t learn in school, but that you’ll need to know in order to succeed.

Life’s not fair – In school everyone has more or less the same chances at success, but once you leave school, it’s all about gaining a competitive advantage. Your employers care about results, not fairness.

You need to accomplish something before you gain self-esteem – This is almost the opposite of what education in the US focuses on. In the real world, you need to prove that you’re worthy. No one cares about your problems unless you first add value to them.

Your boss is tougher on you than your teacher – The difference between an employer and a teacher is that your teacher is there to make you better. Your boss is there to demand results from you. If you can’t give results, you don’t just get an F, you get fired.

No job is beneath you – It doesn’t matter how much education you have, you’re not better than a job. Millions of people flip burgers for a living in order to improve their life step by step. Just because you went to college or grad school doesn’t mean you’re too good to work hourly jobs.

Mistakes are no one else’s fault – Don’t blame others for your mistakes: learn from them. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn and grow. Blaming others gets you nowhere, and it’ll probably just make people resent you.

School isn’t about winning and losing, but life can be – It’s unkind for teachers to rate students by winners and losers, but your employers will. They want winners, whether that’s kind or fair or not. The world is about results, and it doesn’t matter how you feel about that.

Life is not divided into terms – If you mess up one business quarter, you don’t start over at the next one. Everything carries over and there are no do-overs.

For Bill Gates, college was an unnecessary aspect of his personal journey. He didn’t need instructors or formal education to make his dreams a reality. He was pushing past what he would have learned in his classes and developed his own abilities independent of what he could have discovered from instruction. He was a man determined to succeed regardless of who told him he was qualified or not. No diploma or certification would have made Bill Gates a better entrepreneur or more successful titan of software.

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Skip the College and Get Rich – Lessons from Mark Zuckerberg

He found a rope and pulled. He kept pulling but the rope wouldn’t budge so he decided to follow where the rope led. He left in the middle of the night to avoid authority figures who would ask questions about where and what and why. In the cover of night, the moon gleaming, he pulled on the rope and followed where it led. The rope extended out of town and so he went into the forest. Wandering between trees, over rivers, next to mountains, he followed the rope wherever it came from. Sometimes the rope plunged underground or high in the air, to places he couldn’t go so he left the rope and searched for where it re-emerged. He always found it, and though he never knew if it was the same rope, it didn’t matter. It led and he followed, mile by mile. The rope was just like any other rope, and as he journeyed he stopped looking at the rope and paid attention to the world around him. As he walked and walked, following this rope, or many ropes, he came to realize that the rope wasn’t leading him to a specific place or goal. Rather, the journey itself was the goal and he was being rewarded by new lands, new places, new cultures. This rope connected him to the world far beyond his town and region. This rope was a gateway to the world. He began leaving the rope and interacting with the people he saw. Making friends and discovering so many things the world had to offer filled him with happiness and he came to realize that people were the same almost everywhere. His small town was not a distinct place unknowable to outsider, but simply one iteration of the human social condition. After making friends and connections, he always returned to the rope and continued to follow it, which led him to ever more connections and possibilities. This isn’t a new path, he thought to himself, This is the path wandered by all humanity. I’m not changing the world; I’m just connecting with it.

Mark Zuckerberg is the founder of Facebook, the world’s second most popular website, with over a billion users worldwide. Before we get too far, let’s take a minute to look at some Facebook statistics:

1 in every 13 people on Earth is on Facebook.

71.2% of US internet users are on Facebook.

In 20 minutes 1,000,000 links are shared on Facebook, 1,484,00 event invites are posted, 1,323,000 photos are tagged, 1,851,000 statuses are entered, 1.972 million friend requests are entered, and 10.2 million comments are posted.

People spend over 700 billion combined minutes on Facebook per month.

Translated into over 70 languages.

70% of users live outside the US.

The staggering statistics go on for quite a while, but you get the idea: Facebook is huge, and it comes from the mind of Mark Zuckerberg, who dropped out of Harvard during his sophomore year.

The question, as always, is why? Why didn’t Zuckerberg just stick it out to get his degree before pursuing Facebook full time?

Let’s take a look back at where he came from first.

He began using computers and writing software way back in middle school when his father taught him Atari BASIC Programming. Later, he even hired a software developer named David Newman to tutor him. Newman described the young Zuckerberg as a prodigy, and he struggled to stay ahead of the child, even though he was the tutor. Throughout high school, Zuckerberg enjoyed working with computers and developing programs, especially games and new communication tools. While still in high school, he even took a graduate level course in programming, and developed “ZuckNet,” a primitive communication tool connecting the computers in his house to the computers at his father’s dental office, preceding AOL Instant Messenger by a few months. Zuckerberg’s computer expertise became known to his schoolmates with Jose Antonio Vargas saying, “Some kids played computer games. Mark created them.” He even created Synapse Media Player, a music player that learned from the user’s listening habits.

Zuckerberg went to college with the reputation of being a programming prodigy, and he studied psychology and computer science. In his sophomore year, which would be his final year of college, he built a program called CourseMatch, which allowed users to make class decisions based on the choices of other students. Later, he made Facemash, which was a program for ranking people based on physical appearance in photos. Facesmash was so popular that it overwhelmed the Harvard network, causing it to crash, preventing students from accessing the internet.

The following semester, he launched Facebook, which was originally called The Facebook. After starting it in his dormroom, it became incredibly popular, partially due to its exclusivity. Beginning as only available to Harvard students, it gradually spread to other universities, and, eventually, to everyone. After dropping out of Harvard, he moved to Palo Alto, California where he and a group of friends dove into developing Facebook and making it a company. Since then, Facebook has exploded and grown exponentially, covering the globe, and it all comes from his simple message:

“The thing I really care about is the mission, making the world open.”

It’s undeniable that Zuckerberg’s achieved that goal as more and more people tap into Facebook, which further opens and connects the world. But we’re still left with the question: did Zuckerberg need to drop out?

It’s hard to argue that dropping out made him more successful, but it’s entirely possible. Had he waited to dive into Facebook full time when he graduated, the ship may have already sailed. Someone could have taken his idea, improved upon it, and jumped into the world as the newest and best social media site. We know Facebook wasn’t the first social media site, but it’s demonstrably better than Myspace, which has largely fallen by the wayside as Facebook’s taken over. Even Google+, which many argue is a better platform, has never picked up the way Facebook has. The reason for that is because Facebook was first, and so many users were so thoroughly entwined to Facebook that they didn’t see a reason to create a new platform.

In addition, it’s clear that Zuckerberg was, from a young age, well past his instructors. He’s an incredibly gifted man, who also encourages his employees to do their best, and runs “hackathons,” which are held every 6 to 8 weeks. Participants must create and complete a project within a night for the Facebook platform. The central idea behind it goes back to Zuckerberg’s creation of Facemash, which was done in a single night.

Zuckerberg rewards great ideas and is very much an idea man. He currently takes a salary of $1, as his wealth has already amassed to a very comfortable level. Since money is no longer an issue, Zuckerberg is working for ideas and continually competing. Competition is a core element of his personality and it’s reflected in his hackathons, which are also meant to be enjoyable. Zuckerberg wants to connect the world, and it’s such a beautiful and simple idea, that it’s turned him into one of the wealthiest people alive and his company into one of the most important in the world.

The things that make Mark Zuckerberg an enormous success aren’t just that he’s a genius with a good idea. He’s always ready to take criticism, his skin growing thicker with each new year. Over legal battles and country bans, he’s remained determined to succeed, which is possible because he truly believes in what he’s doing. Facebook isn’t just a good idea: it’s his dream. A connected world, and he’s the architect. His dreams are big and he’s willing to take big risks on himself and the people he trusts. He gained his initial financial backing by being seriously risky with the way he dealt with potential funders. He forced them to wait on him, rather than clamoring to get whatever sum they’d give him. He trusted his idea, and it worked brilliantly. He thrives on competition, always adapting and growing with each new challenge and innovation. Facebook wasn’t the first or most powerful social media site, but he fought his way to the top, leaving all other similar sites to history.

Though Zuckerberg didn’t succeed by going to college, he still views education as an absolutely critical component to a healthy economy and country. He’s funded education reform and supports it most notably in New Jersey.

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Skip the College and Get Rich – Lessons from Henry Fok

When the boy was born all he had was the dirt beneath him, clinging to his young body. Quickly he gained cloth and family, and even love. As he grew up he came to know very few comforts and even fewer possessions. Everything he saw would never belong to him, but he scraped by, collecting bits to stay alive. He knew the pain of hunger, the crush of poverty, and he saw how others who looked like him had so many things he never even dreamt of. The older the boy got, the more he accepted that comfort and items and opulence were not for him. He didn’t lust after what others had or envy them for their wealth. Though many would consider the people around him poor, the boy thought them unimaginably rich, to eat nice meals every day, to have enough clothes and warmth. His was a poverty so deep it stretched miles beneath the surface. And then he lost his parents and the war forced him out of education, which is how his parents promised he would rise to the level of his neighbors. With nothing but the dirt he was born to, he began to work the dirt. He added water and made it clay, and with the clay he made pots that he sold to the other poverty stricken communities. In this way he was able to survive, and there was always demand for more of his work because there was always need for cooking tools. As the work became too much for him, he taught his friends to make pots and plates and vases with him. Banding together, they created tools to help with the process, to make it more efficient. Eventually, he was selling so much that he stepped past the poor surrounding him. Even the middle class and wealthy came to him for his rustic wares, and he invested the money to improve his product even more. When asked why he made this his life’s work, he said, “I knew dirt, and it was all I had.”

Henry Fok was a man like this. He came from abysmal poverty and rose to be one of the wealthiest men in China before dying at the age of 83. Born on a small fishing boat in Hong Kong 1923 with nothing to his name, he died with a wealth estimated in the billions. Fok never received an education nearing the level of many of the people we’ve talked about so far. He wasn’t a prodigy or show early signs of great promise. Rather, he was a very normal boy born to great poverty at a time when China was going through dramatic changes, and these changes would continue throughout Fok’s life. His formal education ended when he was a junior in high school because the Japanese invaded Hong Kong in 1941. By this time, his father had died, and he never returned to school. For him, work was not a choice, but the only means of survival. He took the small family boat business and a variety of jobs in order to keep himself fed and ensure he could keep working.

Though he was young, he knew boats and his hard work began to pay off. As mainland China shifted through the tumultuous years under Mao’s communist rule, Fok worked tirelessly through WWII and the Korean War to amass a small fortune. It’s reported that much of this initial fortune came by smuggling arms into mainland China during the Korean War, going undetected by the UN arms embargo.

For the rest of his life he denied the weapon trafficking rumors, but admitted to smuggling iron plates, pipes, gasoline, car tires, and many other items. Though Fok didn’t know much, he knew boating, and he used his skill and expertise to turn his small boating company into what would become a major company. He personally oversaw his fleet of boats as they carried medicine and arms to the mainland.

Perhaps more important than proving his ability as a trading company and rising to the top of Hong Kong’s economy, he aligned himself closely to the Beijing government, which would prove to be advantageous for the rest of his life.

After the Korean War, he established a construction and real estate company, which pioneered the practice of selling apartments before they were even built. This coincided with the housing boom, which led to his wealth to continue to grow by leaps and bounds. In the 1960s, he teamed up with Stanley Ho, a casino owner, and was granted a government gambling monopoly, which would add greatly to his wealth for the following decades.

As the mainland began to open to the world, Fok was ready. In 1980, he was made a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which put him at the same table as many of the highest ranking people in China. With his connection to the Beijing government, he began constructing high end resorts, including the country’s first 5-Star hotel, the White Swan. He added luxury and opulence to a nation that had long suffered a deep poverty. While continually growing as a business man, he deepened his political involvements. Despite being closely affiliated with the Beijing government, he was among the first to condemn the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989. Though this sort of disagreement typically ends a Chinese political career, Fok was made the vice president of the CPPCC National Committee in 1993.

Though he became politically involved, he never left the private sector, and continued to invest in industry. He invested millions into new technologies and continued to push for the improvement of China, both within borders and across the globe. He founded the Fok Ying Tung Foundation in 1984, which has become one of the largest Hong Kong philanthropic organizations, pledging hundreds of millions into the project.

So how did a man without even a high school education become one of the most powerful and wealthiest men in China? How did a poor fisherman without family rise so high?

As with everyone, the answer is never simple, or only one thing over another. Rather, it’s a combination of thousands of choices and characteristics. He lived through a transformative time in China. Born just after the last emperor of China was overthrown, he saw Japanese occupation and the communist revolution, and then the Cultural Revolution, the Korean War, the death of Mao, and the Tiananmen Square massacre. There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “May you live in interesting times.” If any generation of people did, it was Fok’s, and Fok was able to use all this instability to his advantage.

Fundamental to his success, though, was that he knew his foundational business. Though he was young and uneducated, he knew how to make his family’s boating business work. Though he relied on illicit means to grow his initial wealth, even that never would have been possible had he not known the ins and outs of his business. He was an expert, and no amount of education would have made him a better boatman. In fact, an education may have caused him to look well past such a lowly position. Fok, however, didn’t have time or money to wonder whether a job was right for him, whether it was beneath his dignity or not.

He needed to survive, and it’s certainly that drive that pushed him to success, and also pushed him towards illegal means. A true nationalist, it’s easy for Westerners to look at him as a criminal, especially since he supported and then became a member of the Chinese Communist Party, but he was fighting for his country and his people in the only way he knew how.

Henry Fok didn’t need to go to college in order to become a success. He didn’t even need to finish high school. He gained his wealth through experience, and education rarely prepares you for the necessities demanded in any industry, let alone a manual labor one. But he never stopped learning and growing his business. He discovered how to turns his boating enterprise into multiple ventures, including construction and real estate, which is where the bulk of his wealth came from, which happen to be industries college rarely prepares you for.

Fok knew how to work with his hands and he knew what people needed. He was able to understand and navigate both the political and socioeconomic climates of China, which allowed him to take advantage of the many twists and turns of 20th Century China.

If ever there was a self-made entrepreneur, it’s Henry Fok.


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