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“Those who say it can’t be done should get out of the way of those who are doing it.” Unknown

Today’s world businessman can be compared to the legendary Don Quixote, who chases windmills in search of great fortune.

The business journey that I would like to share with you in this article may be a bit surprising. I find it remarkable, but have hardly seen it mentioned in the press over the years.

Imagine the following scenario. The year is 1983. You are a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin, sitting in your bedroom playing on your computer.

1983. Pre-Internet. Pre-computers-on-every-desk, in-every-room-of-the-house. Those were the days of PONG where very few people sat and played on personal computers. (If you don’t know what PONG is, ask someone much older than you.)

Go back to your bedroom. You are supposed to be in class. Instead, you’re sitting playing on your computer and you have a brilliant idea: the proverbial “light bulb” lights up in your head.

“I think I’ll start a computer company and compete with IBM!” Since there is no one around to listen to you and tell you how ridiculous you sound, you continue.

You have no employees. No manufacturing facilities. There is no family in the computer business. You haven’t even worked for a computer company. Sure, he’s been taking computers apart and putting them back together since he was 15 years old, but come on! Competing with IBM? Everyone around you thinks you’ve lost your mind.

However, he thinks it has a better shape.

Develop a passion for the idea of ​​making better computers and selling them for less by going directly to the consumer.

The story goes that Mom and Dad heard that the little boy skipped many classes to be able to play on their computers. Mom and Dad decided to pay a visit one day and they caught him red-handed. After reading Michael the riot act, Michael’s father asked him what he wanted to do with his life. He told his father that he wanted to compete with IBM.

Imagine that conversation!

And that’s how 19-year-old genius tech teenager Michael Dell, armed with just $ 1,000, abandoned his plans to become a doctor and dropped out of college after his freshman year to take on the big boys: IBM, Compaq. , Hewlett-Packard and others.

He believed he could outsource everything: manufacturing, distribution, sales, and service. Remember now, this was before the internet. Outsourcing prior to globalization. He believed that he could bypass costly traditional distribution channels and go directly to consumers, giving them exactly what they wanted: higher-quality, lower-cost computers made specifically for them.

He knew what his consumer wanted because he was his own consumer: frustrated by poor customer service, poor quality, non-existent customization, and high prices.

The rest is history. Modern American business history, that is.

By the time Dell was 22 years old, his company had achieved annual sales of about $ 150 million. Starting with just $ 1000 and growing the company to $ 1 billion (with a B!) Public company in less than 10 years is a record few companies can match.

Today Dell, Inc. is a $ 57 billion company with the leading market share in the United States with more than 46,000 employees, including more than 16,000 in Central Texas. Dell is listed as the eighth richest person in America according to Forbes magazine (August 2007). Dell first trained the 400 richest people in Forbes in the United States at the age of 26. It is said to have been worth more than $ 20 billion at age 40.

Dell has been named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Inc magazine; PC Magazine’s “Man of the Year”; Worth Magazine’s “Top CEO in American Business”; “CEO of the Year” from Financial World and Industry Week magazines.

Not bad for a college dropout.

Michael Dell. At 19, he realized that he could build a better mousetrap and sell it for less.

Simple formula. Brilliant execution.

The first time I heard this story, I frankly didn’t believe it. A college freshman takes on IBM and wins? No way, my logical left brain said. There has to be more to this story!

No, this falls into the category of “truth is stranger than fiction.”

Michael Dell was just a brilliant kid with a brilliant idea. Driven by passion. Too young, too dumb, and certainly too focused to listen to naysayers who said it couldn’t be done.

According to Dell, “no one told me we couldn’t do it, and if they did, I wasn’t listening.”

Good thing he wasn’t listening. In addition to revolutionizing the personal computer industry, Dell has donated more than $ 1 billion in stock to the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, which is now one of the largest foundations in the country. The foundation focuses on children’s health and education initiatives.

Although today’s story is about a mega-millionaire with a millionaire company, never forget that Michael Dell once looked a lot like you and me. Just a child with a dream that would not die.

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