10 Successful Leaders Without College Degrees

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The lack of a college degree didn’t hold any of these extraordinary people back!

1. Steve Jobs was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs in 1955 San Francisco. The family moved to Mountain View, California when Steve was a young child. This community had links to the emerging field of computers. This meant their neighbourhood was home to engineers, and young Steve was interested and influenced by them. He also became friends with Steve Wozniak.

After high school, Jobs went to college but only finished one semester. The lure of the hippie movement beckoned, but eventually Jobs took a job at Atari-one of the original video game companies. Steve Wozniak also worked at Atari at that time. The two friends teamed up in the 1970s developing software that led to the creation of Apple Computer in 1976.

2. Bill Gates was born in 1955 Seattle to William and Mary, a lawyer and teacher respectively. Gates was small for his age, liked to read, and study math. When he was 13, his parents enrolled him in a private school. It was there he wrote his first software program. It was also around this time that he became friends with Paul Allen. In high school he worked with the Computer Center Corporation to study code.

In the early 1970s, Gates and Allen formed Traf-O-Data, to track traffic. In 1973, with his almost perfect SAT score, he entered Harvard to study math and graduate level computer science. At this point he was just interested in pursuing computers, and he dropped out of Harvard after two years. He and Paul Allen went on to form their own software company, Microsoft, in 1975.

3. Mark Zuckerberg was born in 1984 White Plains NY. His parents were Edward and Karen, a dentist and psychiatrist, respectively. He grew up in Dobbs Ferry NY. Mark did very well in school, including private school. He was interested in computers and writing software starting in middle school. His father taught him BASIC, and he had a private tutor. He was writing usable software by high school.

In 2002 he entered Harvard to study psychology and computer science. In January 2004 began writing the software that would become Facebook. He would drop out of Harvard to pursue that project.

4. Subhash Chandra was born in 1950 Adampur, East Punjab, India. His grandfather, who had three businesses, taught Subhash, as a boy, the running of these businesses. An important lesson was how to read people and their motives. Subhash planned to study engineering after graduation. Unfortunately, his family suffered financial setbacks which prevented him from doing that.

In the late 1960s, he met a manager at the Food Corporation of India. Subhash was hired and grew with the company. In 1976, Subhash struck out on his own and FCI was a customer. He made a name for himself by solving a huge problem for FCI, and struck a major deal with the Soviet Union. His company eventually became Essel Group.

5. Oprah Winfrey was born in 1954 Kosciusko, Mississippi to Vernita Lee, a teenage housemaid. Oprah was sent to live with her grandmother. She taught her to read at an early age. They were vey poor and Oprah experienced a difficult and abusive upbringing in the care of both her mother and grandmother. She moved to Milwaukee with her mother, and she did well in school. She moved to Nashville TN to live with a relative and she finished high school there. She was an honors student, Most Popular Girl, and won a national award in Speech Club.

As a senior in high school, she worked in a grocery store and won a local beauty pageant. This led to a part time job at a radio station. She won a scholarship to Tennessee State but did not finish. She went to work in media in different states. In 1985 a show she was hosting in Chicago became the Oprah Winfrey Show. She eventually established Harpo Productions.

6. Travis Kalanick was born in 1976 Northridge, CA to Bonnie and Donald, a retail advertiser and civil engineer, respectively. Travis was interested in computers and was writing code in middle school. He was competitive and driven. He sold knives door to door in high school. When he was 18, he formed a test preparation company with a partner.

He entered UCLA in 1996 to study computer engineering and business. He dropped out two years later to form the first of his start-ups. After a number of failures, he established Uber.

7. John Mackey was born in 1953 Houston to Margaret and Bill. Bill was an accounting professor and CEO of LifeMark, a healthcare company. John developed an interest for healthy food as a teenager. He studied philosophy and religion for six years at the University of Texas without graduating.

John was interested in working for food co-ops. He and a girlfriend borrowed and raised funds to open a store named Safer Way in 1978. In 1980, Safer Way merged with another established health food store, and it was renamed Whole Foods.

8. Zhou Qunfei was born in 1970 Xiangxiang China. Her family was poor. Her father supported the family making baskets and repairing bicycles, and her mother had died when she was five. Zhou helped raise farm animals for food and to sell. She was able to go to school, and she did well. Unfortunately, she had to leave school at the age of 16 to become a migrant worker.

She worked near Shenzhen University, where she took classes part-time. She studied accounting, computer operations, customs processing, and commercial trucking. She secured work at a watchmaking company. When the company closed, Zhou bought it with savings in 1993. She and her family ran it and won a large contract with TCL Corporation in 2001. This led to many other contracts over the years with tech giants. Her company is Lens Technology.

9. Richard Branson was born in 1950 London to Eve and Edward, an entrepreneur and barrister respectively. Richard attended several schools growing up. He had dyslexia, which hampered his learning. He left school at 16.

He attempted several businesses until he started a magazine called Student with Nik Powell. The magazine was somewhat successful. Richard added a mail order record business, which would advertise in the magazine. This grew the business enough to start Virgin Records in London. That was highly successful, signing many popular acts. Virgin Records was bought by EMI, launching Virgin Group.

10. Jay-Z was born in 1969 Brooklyn NY to Gloria Carter and Adnis Reeves, who abandoned the family. They lived in a housing project. Jay-Z attended high school in Brooklyn, followed by some education in a career and technology school. He returned to high school in New Jersey but did not finish. He sold illegal drugs to support himself.

Jay-Z was a rapper and associated with many rappers in the 1980s and 1990s. Many in his group became commercially successful with record deals, including Jay-Z. He began managing and producing artists and discovering new artists. In 2004 he was named President of Def-Jam Records. He has had success owning a bar, a line of clothes, several lines of sneakers, and collecting fine art. He is part owner of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team. In 2008, he married Beyonce, also a remarkably successful artist in her own right.

businessXP is the fastest and most effective training ever invented to start or level up your career in business or launch your own business.