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If you like Pierre Omidyar's story, you might also like:
Timothy Berners-Lee,
Jeffrey Bezos,
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Michael Dell,
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Bill Gates,
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Pierre Omidyar
Pierre Omidyar
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Pierre Omidyar Interview (page: 6 / 8)

Founder and Chairman, eBay

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  Pierre Omidyar

What else do you recall from college in terms of influences and life changing experiences or ideas?

Pierre Omidyar: When I was in college I taught myself how to program the Macintosh. A big foundation actually for that was a class. It was actually -- so it wasn't completely self-taught -- it was a C programming class called "Data Structures." It was the big kind of the "weed-out" class for the computer science program. I learned how to program C. A great, great professor. Probably one of the best I've ever had, and a couple of things stem from that story. The first is that that professor eventually had to leave the school. He was a great teacher but apparently he had never published anything, and so they axed him. He had to leave and that was a scandal, at least in my mind. So I don't know what exactly that taught me, but it did have an impact on me and -- yeah. And then second, you know, I learned how to program C, and then I used that ability to teach myself how to program the Macintosh which I was just very excited about learning everything I could about it. And of course, that's how I began actually my professional career was after college -- actually a year before graduating from college -- I took a summer job in California working at a software company for the Macintosh.

[ Key to Success ] Preparation

Did it enter your mind at that point in your life what was going to happen?

Pierre Omidyar: No, no, no, not at all.

I was just pursuing what I enjoyed doing. I mean, I was pursuing my passion. And the whole -- you know, the ability to create software that could have a benefit or an impact on people that used it was what was driving me. And so I was driven by, you know, mass market software and the whole notion of just being able to do neat things. And like most software people, it is very much a passion more than anything else. And so, like people have said, it is not really work, you know, if you are having fun, it's not work so that was the case with me.

[ Key to Success ] Passion

What do you say to a young man or a young woman who comes to you for advice and says, "I want to do what you did"?

Pierre Omidyar: Well if they say, "I want to do exactly what you did and compete with eBay," I say, "Don't bother. Don't quit your day job." That's pretty rare. I lve actually coming to these kinds of venues where I talk to students and young people because they are very passionate and they have great ideas. And, what I tell them is a number of things.

I say that you should pursue your passion. If you're passionate about something and you work hard, then I think you'll be successful. If you start a business because you think you're going to make a lot of money at it, then you probably won't be successful, because that's the wrong reason to start a business. You have to really believe in what you're doing, be passionate enough about it so that you will put in the hours and the hard work that it takes to actually succeed there, and then you'll be successful.

When you look at the accomplishments of accomplished people and you say, "Boy, that must have been really hard," you know, when you look at something that looks hard, that was probably easy. And conversely, when you look at something that looks easy, that was probably hard. And so you're never going to know which is which until you actually go and do it. So just go and do it, try it, learn from it. You'll fail at some things, that's a learning experience that you need so that you can take that on to the next experience. And don't let people who you may respect and who you believe know what they're talking about, don't let them tell you it can't be done, because often they will tell you it can't be done, and it's just because they don't have the courage to try.

[ Key to Success ] Courage

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This page last revised on Oct 20, 2010 00:15 EDT
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