The Richest Americans

by James & Miel on December 3, 2009 · 0 comments

This past September Forbes released their annual list of the 400 richest American citizens (“The Forbes 400“). After getting over the mild disappointment of not seeing my name on the list – 25 year old software engineers rarely crack the top 400 – I took a look at how the list was composed.

The most interesting thing that stuck out to me was the number of individuals in the top 50 with no formal advanced education. In the top 50, 10 people lack any education past high school, and another individual, Carl Icahn, dropped out of school once before returning and getting his Bachelor’s. This includes three people in the top 10; even the number one slot is occupied by the world’s most famous college drop-out, Bill Gates. Also, only two of those individuals inherited their fortunes – Christy’s Walton of Walmart fame and Frederik Meijer of the eponymous super-store chain.

That isn’t to say that I think advanced degrees are pointless. I think the greater idea here is the drive possessed by these individuals, who were willing to step out of the formal education system and were willing to work towards realizing their dream and investing in the strength of their ideas.
Which brings me to another point that I came to realize while going through the list. These individuals didn’t make their money by working for someone else. They are innovators; people who thought of a good idea and were willing to see that idea through to completion and were thus rewarded in a significant manner financially.

Obviously, many people have ideas they believe in that they see through to completion, that fail and never make them rich. But I admire anyone who is willing to take risks and invest in themselves by pursuing their dreams.


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