Ronald Wayne may not be a name you recognize, but he is Apple’s third co-founder alongside Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Wayne met the two future tech titans during his tenure at Atari in the 1970s.
One day, Jobs called Wayne in to settle a small dispute he had with Wozniak. He was able to properly mediate the situation with the two men, who were both in their 20s at the time.
If you visited Google today, you might have noticed the mighty search engine’s new Doodle honoring what would have been the 105th birthday of Momofuku Ando, the inventor of Cup Noodles.
For most of us — if we’re being honest here — life without top ramen would have been unmanageable. It began in childhood for me, when I would eagerly wait for my dad to return home on Fridays, tired after work, requesting that I make him a hot bowl of noodles. (I knew that meant kung fu movies later, too.) I’d scurry out our family room, across the hall and into the kitchen, having absorbed the three steps of instant noodle-making as if they had belonged in the Ten Commandments:
Meet Huang Nubo.
He is a Chinese billionaire and founder of property and leisure giant Beijing Zhongkun Investment Group.
By now, we all know his name. Elon Musk paid homage by naming his revolutionary electric car company Tesla Motors, but not many know the real story of the life of Nikola Tesla. This is the story of the world’s first mad scientist.
Nikola Tesla was born on July 10th, 1857 in Smiljan, Austrian Empire, what is today Croatia. He was a gifted student, capable of performing integral calculus in his head and he had a photographic memory.
By 1875, he enrolled at Austrian Polytechnic in Austria on a scholarship. He was an astounding student, never missed class, earned the highest grades possible, and passed twice as many exams as were necessary. The dean would say to his father, “Your son is a star of first rank,” but also that he would work himself to death if he wasn’t removed from school. Tesla claimed he worked from 3 a.m. to 11.p.m. every day of the week and on holidays.
However, by his third year Tesla became addicted to gambling, lost his scholarship, tuition and allowance money, and by his senior year dropped out of the school and never spoke to his family again.
Tesla met Thomas Edison in 1884 and began working for his company, Edison Machine Works. Recognizing his genius, he was offered the task of redesigning Edison’s inefficient generators, to which Edison allegedly said, “There’s fifty thousand dollars in it for you—if you can do it.”
After several months, Tesla did it, went back to Edison about the money, and Edison trolled him saying, “Tesla, you don’t understand our American humor.” Edison instead offered Tesla a $10 raise, which he refused, and the livid Tesla immediately quit, igniting the lifelong arch-rivalry between Edison and Tesla.
By 1886, Tesla had been screwed over in some bad business deals, lost valuable patents in the deal and was forced out of his company, Tesla Electric Light and Manufacturing. He worked as a ditch digger for $2 dollars a day, making that year a time of “terrible headaches and bitter tears.”
Fast forward a couple years and a new company, the Tesla Electric Company, was founded and Tesla’s work on alternating currents became licensed to George Westinghouse for $60,000 in cash, $2.50 per AC horsepower, and Tesla was making $2000 per month as a consultant for Westinghouse. He was making bank.
With his money, he moved to Colorado Springs and created a lab where he experimented with crazy electrical inventions and went into studying how to harness the power of the Earth’s magnetosphere.
In 1900 he built the Wardenclyffe tower, a massive Tesla coil that would have been able to transmit radio signals and wireless electricity, but it was never finished because J.P. Morgan bailed on him.
Later on back at his lab on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, Tesla created a steam-powered mechanical oscillator. In the same way an opera singer can use their voice to break glass, this machine created destructive resonance frequencies. Tesla switched it on and it started generating an earthquake so powerful it nearly destroyed three buildings and Tesla had to destroy it with a sledgehammer as the cops broke into his lab to stop him. He later claimed he could generate a frequency that could destroy the world.
Later on in his life, Tesla developed schematics, and allegedly tested, a device that could shoot particles and destroy anything it was fired at, affectionately called the “death ray.”
“[The nozzle would] send concentrated beams of particles through the free air, of such tremendous energy that they will bring down a fleet of 10,000 enemy airplanes at a distance of 200 miles from a defending nation’s border and will cause armies to drop dead in their tracks.”
He was the world’s first mad scientist; he is most remembered for creating the electrical systems we use today, but also for being the arch-nemesis of Thomas Edison, inventing wireless electricity, creating a device could theoretically destroy the world, and boasted of inventing a “death ray” many times more powerful than the atomic bomb.
As a super genius, minus the evil, Tesla learned to speak up to eight languages, owned around 300 patents, had an obsessive compulsive disorder, became overly obsessed with pigeons, and suffered from nervous breakdowns. He claimed to never sleep more than two hours at a time. He also allegedly stayed a virgin his entire life so he could concentrate on his work.
Unfortunately, as a scientist that only wanted to give the world his incredible creations, Tesla died in 1943, broke and in debt from his experiments, and by himself in The New Yorker Hotel. What is left of Tesla’s work is lost, confiscated, or died with him, and we are barely scraping the surface of his work today. Tesla’s story is one of hard work, amazing creations, and shows that even the legacy of true geniuses live on.
“I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success… such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything.”
Featured image via Wikipedia
This is the story of Li Kai-Shing.
Born in Guangdong province, China, Li Kai-Shing lost his father at age 14 to Tuberculosis. Being the man of the house now, he was forced to leave school to work at a plastics factory to support his family. The family was so poor that he had to sell his dead father’s clothes in order to get cash to pay for food.
Working at the factory was tough, while most of his peers played games and went to school like normal children, he had to work 16-hour days making plastic watch bands.The combination of suffering through illness, poverty, loss, and grueling work at such a young age had a profound impact on Li. It gave him the drive to do whatever it took to succeed in life. At age 22, Li had enough money to quit his job and started his own company that made plastic toys.“I needed to save every penny…I needed to be strong, and needed to find some way to secure a future. That’s why I am always conservative. I never forget to maintain stability while advancing, and I never forget to advance while maintaining stability.”Li has always been an avid reader of trade publications and business news. Through his research, he found out that there was a huge demand for plastic flowers in Italy. Realizing the opportunity, he shifted his companies focus on producing plastic flowers instead. A few years later, Li’s company became the largest supplier of plastic flowers in Asia and made a fortune selling them In 1958, Li was hit with a setback, he was unable to renew the lease for the company and was forced to buy land instead. This however, proved to be a blessing in disguise, as about a decade later, Hong Kong real estate plummeted due to political riots. Li saw an opportunity here, believing that the riots were only temporary, and that prices of real estate would rise eventually. With that, he bought parcels of land at cheap prices. He called his real estate company Cheung Kong.
Once the market recovered, real estate prices soared and Li started making a ton of money. Cheung Kong Holdings was publicly listed in Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1972. By 1987, Li had worked his way to becoming a billionaire.
This is the story of a man named Ferruccio.
Ferruccio was born on April 28th, 1916 to poor grape farmers in Northern Italy. As he grew up, he became more interested in farming equipment and tractors than actual farming, and in the 1930s he enrolled at the Fratelli Taddia technical institute to study mechanics.
In 1940, Ferruccio was drafted in the Italian Royal Air Force during WWII where he served as a supervisor in the vehicle maintenance unit on the Island of Rhodes in the Mediterranean, but Rhodes was taken by the British in 1945 and Ferruccio was taken prisoner. He was allowed to return home a year later.When he returned home, he married, but his wife died in 1947 when his son, Antonio, was born. In 1948, Ferruccio threw himself in work and opened a garage in Pieve de Cento and founded a tractor company that same year. While he was working on tractors, Ferruccio also liked to tinker with cars, and began converting an old Fiat Topolino into a 750-cc open-top coupe and even competed in the 1948 Mille Miglia, a thousand mile race. After 700 miles, Ferruccio crashed into the side of restaurant in Turin, Italy, and decided to stick to mechanics from then on. Ferruccio’s tractor business boomed as the Italian economy recovered after the war, so he expanded into other industries and started to manufacture air conditioners and heating units. As Ferruccio grew rich, he began to buy a variety of luxury sports cars, and in 1958 he traveled to Maranello to buy what was considered to be the best car in the world: a Ferrari 250GT. Ferruccio loved his cars, but was inherently dissatisfied with their performance. Ferruccio spoke of one car maker whose car he owned, that Adolfo Orsi “was a man I had a lot of respect for: he had started life as a poor boy, like myself. But I did not like his cars much.” Adolfo had bought a car company in 1937 from three brothers with the last name Maserati.
The car he was most annoyed with was the Ferrari. Ferruccio hated how the clutch burned out all the time and the vehicle needed constant repairs in Maranello. He contacted Ferrari’s customer service, and receiving no help, he decided to talk to Enzo Ferrari himself about the problem with the clutch in his cars.
This is the inspiring story of a Chicago-born man by the name of Wayne Huizenga.
From an early-age, his father told him, “You can’t make money working for someone else.” After dropping out of college after only one year, a family friend convinced him to get into the trash business. He liked how the business was simple, needed no elaborate training, and had high demand. He bought his first garbage truck in 1962.
Every morning, he would begin his route at 2 a.m., he’d personally pick up garbage and haul it to the dump until the early afternoon. He would haul garbage at $1.25 per wagon. After that, he’d shower, dress up and spend the rest of the day cold-calling homeowners and businesses to find new customers.
“I didn’t know anything about the business… I just worked hard and gave good service.”
As his business increased, he was eventually able to buy out other private garbage truck businesses. By 1982, he owned the largest waste disposal company in the United States. You may know Wayne’s business today by the name of Waste Management, a publicly-traded company worth billions of dollars.
Wayne’s approach to building a successful businesses was simple- take fragmented industries that are mainly made up of small business-owners and create a corporation that completely owns the space. He applied this concept to other ventures, including the acquisition of more than 100 businesses ranging from bottled water, lawn-care services, hotels and office buildings. By 1986, all of these businesses had a combined annual revenue of $100 million.
One of the secrets to his success is his ability to find people who can do certain jobs better than he can.
“He knows what makes things go, hires good people and stands back to let them work…” – Former Colleague
But he really didn’t make himself known as the business legend today until his second big venture, which was a video company he and his partners bought out by the name of “Blockbuster.” Using the same business concepts he holds true to himself, he led Blockbuster to be the biggest movie rental chain in the U.S. by 1994.
He then repeated the same thing in the auto industry, acquiring auto dealerships and forming AutoNation in 1996. That company eventually became the nation’s largest automotive dealership and a Fortune 500 company.
Currently, Huizenga is worth $2.5 billion, he has owned multiple sports team, stadiums, and other large assets. Not bad for someone who started off as a garbage man!
“I enjoy building something good and having a successful product and making money.”
What’s the lesson here? Work your ass off, pay your dues, and see things other people can’t and it may pay off for you too!
Featured image via Flickr, by Richard MasonerSource: Entrepreneur, The New York Times