For a talented few, the school of hard knocks offers a substantially higher return than time spent in the classroom.
A good mind is a terrible thing to waste–on high school, perhaps. One of my song lyrics goes:
“On the very same streets u see the homeless/
&the workers who think its all about their Christmas bonus/
you also got all shades of players and owners/
…and millionaires who aint even got diplomas….”
Yeah well for a special crop of talented go-getters–entrepreneurs, artists, former U.S. surgeons general (you read that right)–jumping right into the wide world without first bagging a high school diploma was the best thing that ever happened to their bank accounts.
Many leaped out of necessity. Others had encouragement from a mentor or at least from a supporter looking to piggyback on their success. All, however, had a vision and a demon drive to fulfill it. Even at a young age, that commitment and passion can overcome the hard months and years it can take to perfect a product and win over investors.
“Great entrepreneurs aren’t born fully sprung from the river of Zeus,” says Nancy Koehn, Historian of Entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School. Furthermore, Koehn argues, the success of commercial wunderkinds has much to do with what they learned outside the classroom.
For all the new entrepreneurship programs popping up at business schools, there will always be a slew of born entrepreneurs who prove that high school diplomas, let alone fancy graduate degrees, might well be barely worth the paper they’re printed on. Here are just a handful of examples.