Here is my tribute to the most successful American dreamers. A List of the top 10 American entrepreneurs who succeeded big and inspired many of us to follow our hearts, chase our dreams and reach out to the stars.For those of you who are already thinking- yeah I am/wannabe an entrepreneur. But I am no Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. I might never even get as lucky as any of these guys. I know you are not and I know you have your problems. But I also know that these guys were no less troubled. They were just as lucky as anyone of us can be. Yet, they didn’t let their problems decide what they can or can not do. The result? Today, we don’t know about their problems. Instead, their lives and their legacies are defined by what they created and achieved despite those adversities.
One person, anybody, no matter who he is, where he comes from, what class he belongs to. If he comes up with a better idea about anything, a way to make things simple and life easier for everyone. There is no limit to how far he can go. He can change the way things are. That’s what the American dream is all about. History knows that with the right thinking, right idea and the right knowledge, any person, anywhere on earth can change, influence and even revolutionize an entire industry forever. Sometimes many industries. Here are 10 American entrepreneurs who defied the odds and did exactly that.
Also Read: Top 10 Most Iconic Logos of All Time
1. Steve Jobs – Apple Inc, PIXAR
The man who is considered as the most successful entrepreneur ever. He remains the poster boy of entrepreneurship even 5 years after his death. His quote
The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.
is one of the most popular and inspirational quotes for entrepreneurs. Nothing describes his own life better than this quote. He single-handedly changed 7 industries forever. Personal Computing, Animated Movies, Music, Phones, Tablet Computing, Retail Stores, and Digital Publishing. There is no man on earth who has influenced our lives with his creations more than Steve Jobs.
5 Mind blowing facts that you didn’t know about Jobs
- Macintosh computer was named after an actual variety of apple, the McIntosh. Because it was Jef Raskin’s favorite. (Raskin was the one who best concieved and started the Macintosh as a pet project project for Apple in the late 1970s.) In contrast to the popular story Raskin and his team had already started developing apple’s own bit-mapped GUI before ‘Steve Jobs’ Xerox PARC visit in 1979′.
- Initially at apple, every employee held an ID, Steve Wozniak got employee No 1 and Jobs was assigned 2. Steve protested until he was given employee number 0. (Coz that comes before 1).
- When Steve and Woz designed the Breakout game for Atari, they were supposed to split the pay 50-50. Steve lied to Woz and gave him $350 (50% of $700). Whereas the actual pay was $5000.
- Jobs felt betrayed by his former apprentices from Google after the company entered the phone market with Android. His statement – “Apple didn’t enter the search business, so why did Google get into the phone business?”
- Steve jobs never had a number plate on his car – He spotted a loophole in the California vehicle laws. Anyone with a brand new car had six months to get a number plate of the issued number.
All these incidents only tell that he was a true rebel pirate. A renegade hippy with his sense of entitlement. Poking around the system and the laws. Marginalizing people and fighting for titles. His personality was far from perfect. But it was his uniqueness, his belief in his own ideas and his deep attachment with his creations that led to his flwless products with their maniacal perfection. If anything, Steve’s life is an example that it’s ok to be imperfect. If you believe in yourself and let your genius create its magic, people will forgive your flaws and you will be known for your successes. Even if you are deeply messed up. So don’t ignore your flaws, but don’t let them stall your genius. Stop whining about your weaknesses and start working on your strengths.
2. Larry Page and Sergey Brin – Google
What started as a research project by a couple of Ph.D. students has today turned into the most popular and widely used service on the planet. There is no internet user who does not know about Google. With all the services like Gmail, YouTube, Android etc. It’s amazing how deeply google has interwoven its services into our lifestyles. Even more so with recent advancement in AI and products like Google now. Personally, I can not imagine life without google and it’s products. The lesson is, if two students out of college can create something revolutionary and addictive for more than a billion people on the planet, anyone can do anything.
3. Bill Gates – Microsoft
A young college dropout from Harvard, Bill started a company ‘Microsoft’ with his friend Paul Allen at 20. He had not even imagined that this company would democratize the entire personal computing industry making personal computers accessible to even the poorest countries of the world. Today few people on the planet are can match his business sense, but started out as a techie. He is the most appropriate role model for you if you are a techie with no business background and you want to create an impact with your skills. The holder of ‘The Richest Man on Earth’ tag, he is the one who first came up with the idea that- ‘Softwares can be sold just like hardware‘. Men don’t make history, it’s business strategies like this that do.
He wheeled the software industry into existence at a time when everyone was running around trying to control hardware patents for royalty. Hs world-famous royalty deal with the ‘Big Brother’ IBM officially marked the beginning of the good days for the software industry. His business life is an example that you don’t need a management degree for success. You don’t even need the spotlight, name, and fame. You can be the bad-guy. The one everybody hates. Yet, if your ideas are good, they will succeed and change lives for the better.
4. Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook
Another college dropout from Harvard, he started a social network along with his roommates. Everyone knows the name- Facebook. It changed the way we spend our time on the internet forever. It changed the way we interact with each other online, up to some extent even offline. Because of Facebook, people became more comfortable with sharing more and more about their personal life on the internet. Facebook recently reached the landmark of more than 1 billion active users on a single day. That means one in every 7 people on earth is using Facebook every single day. Just goes to tell how huge, popular and useful Facebook has become over the years. And it was all started by a college dropout in his dorm room.
5. Elon Musk – PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX
If there is one man on earth, whose life story proves that anyone, anywhere on earth can do anything he wants, it’s this man – Elon Musk. This South Africa-born business tycoon who is also the real-life inspiration for the story of Iron-Man. He started out by listing 5 things and then shortlisting 3 things that are gonna change the world. The Internet, Space Travel and Renewable Energy. And then he went on to change each of the 3 things.
- He started PayPal, which is the most popular payment processing platform even today.
- SpaceX- became the first privately funded company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft (Dragon) on 9 December 2010.
- Tesla- is the leader in designing and bringing to market automobiles run purely on battery power. From scooters to even Cars.
There were two things he omitted from his list: Artificial Intelligence and Rewriting Human Genetics because he was unsure that they would have the positive impact on the humanity.
6 Mind blowing facts that you didn’t know about Musk
- He sold his first computer program (the Blaster- a video game) for $500 at the age of 12.
- He Left Home when he was 17 (in 1989) to avoid serving in the South African military.
- In 1995 he started Zip2 with his brother Kimbel Musk. It was an online city guide software company (targeting newspapers) that was acquired by Compaq in 1999 for $307 Million. Out of the deal, Elon and Kimbel netted US$22 million and $15 million respectively. Musk became a multimillionaire at 28.
- That same year, he started X.com with $10 million dollars from the sale of Zip2. X.com later merged with PayPal. Which was eventually acquired by eBay for US$1.5 billion in stock. Musk received US$165 million (for his 11.7% shares).
- He is one of the few entrepreneurs who are not paranoid about revenue or profits. His long-term goal is to avoid human extinction by making life multi-planetary. I.e. by setting up a human colony on Mars through SpaceX.
- He describes himself as a workaholic. He routinely works 100 hours per week.
- At one point, he was dealing with a sickness that almost killed him, a divorce, financial failure, bad press, and Tesla and SpaceX both on the verge of bankruptcy! Still he became the phenomenon that he is today.
6. Andy Grove – Intel
There is hardly a computing device on the planet today that does not use intel’s microchips. And while it might seem easy, becoming robust enough to occupy the core of every single computing device on the planet irrespective of the manufacturer takes not only innovation but also acute business sense. And the credit goes to Intel’s legendary EX-CEO Andy Grove. From the time of the silicon revolution, Intel has been the company to take all the technical advancements in the silicon technology and convert them to electronic microchips that lie at the core of all the computing devices that we use today. To cut it short, computing, (especially mobile computing) would never have been the way we know it today. Had it not been for intel’s and Andy Grove’s innovations.
7. Jeff Bezos – Amazon
Another man who can be credited with single-handedly starting an entire industry, e-commerce. In the past two decades e-commerce has influenced every other industry and has emerged as a must have the distribution channel for all the businesses. This direct to consumer model has become a necessity today and every business has an online sales channel which is increasingly becoming more popular and widespread than the traditional brick and mortar stores.
8. Reed Hastings – Netflix
The days of driving to the DVD rental store are a thing of the ancient days now, and the credit goes to one man Reed Hastings, the founder and CEO of Netflix. Starting with a DVD by mail model, then live to stream and now producing original content, and that too worldwide popular series like ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Game of Thrones’. Netflix is the latest example of a successful American entrepreneur. One man with a better idea changed the way things worked.
9. Larry Ellison – Oracle
A visionary programmer, a legendary businessman, and CEO. Larry Ellison developed a platform called Oracle, the platform that provides Enterprise Resources Planning software to millions of enterprises worldwide. Oracle E-Business Suite is a software solution for SMBs and for enterprises that empowers SMBs owners worldwide. With a net worth of a whopping 49.3 billion USD, there is no doubt that Ellison’s platform is a super-successful one that has touched lives across the planet.
10. Jack Dorsey – Twitter
There is a very solid reason why the lesser known Mr. Jack Dorsey the co-founder and creator of twitter is featured on this list of top 10 American entrepreneurs. When Jack started Twitter, Facebook was already all over the place, but that did not stop him from following his heart. Facebook exists and rules the market even today but twitter has its own place in the market with its own uniqueness.
What YOU can take away from this list
We could not have covered all the successful Americal entrepreneurs who have changed the way we live. But the idea was to catch the essence of the American Dream. Just like almost all the entrepreneurs in this list, you don’t need a revolutionary, completely new, or groundbreaking idea to start or be successful. If you think that you have a cool idea, do not be afraid to follow your heart. Who knows? Success might already be on its way, to meet you. Remember, anyone can tell you that there are a million reasons why can’t do it. They are not lying. But if you can find that one reason why only YOU can and why you must do it, the million reasons won’t matter.
My reason is that I have nothing to lose. No reason why I should not try. I am gonna age through my life and die anyway. So why not try and fight to create something worth living and dying for.
What’s your reason?