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Key to success: Vision Key to success: Passion Key to success: Perseverance Key to success: Preparation Key to success: Courage Key to success: Integrity Key to success: The American Dream Keys to success homepage More quotes on Passion More quotes on Vision More quotes on Courage More quotes on Integrity More quotes on Preparation More quotes on Perseverance More quotes on The American Dream


Steve Case

Co-Founder, America Online

This Atari video game platform really struck me as interesting, so I joined a company in Washington, D.C. in early 1983. Unfortunately, by the time they actually shipped their product in the fall of 1983, the Atari video game market blew up and all the companies -- K-Mart and everybody which was ordering lots of these game cartridges -- suddenly was sending them all back, and the companies that were in that business, including Atari, were on the brink of bankruptcy. So this wonderful product called Game Line was a great idea, but really, really badly timed and the company essentially went into kind of free fall and had to go through several rounds of layoffs and just looked fairly bleak. But, the good news is -- in addition to getting planted in the interactive industry and moving to Washington, D.C. -- two of the people that were part of that company and I ended up in early 1985 starting what became America Online: Jim Kimsey on the business side and Marc Seriff, who is more on the technology side. I was coming at it more from a marketing side.
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Steve Case

Co-Founder, America Online

"Okay. Well, this particular product at this particular time, I guess it wasn't meant to be." But the idea that some day people would want to be able to interact and get stock quotes and talk with other people or all these different things, I just believed that was going to happen. So I said, "Well, let's figure out another way to come at this." And what we did with this new company in 1985 is we did start focusing on PCs instead of video game machines, because we learned the hard lesson about bringing a product to market in a consumer world where it's very expensive to build a brand and get distribution and so forth. When we launched this company in 1985 we decided to partner with PC companies and use their brands and have them take the lead and spend the money. So we focused on the product and the underlying technology and the service and let other people take the lead on the marketing.
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Steve Case

Co-Founder, America Online

I think a lot of people, friends included, were saying, "I know you're a believer in this and all, but you know, sometimes no matter how hard you believe it just doesn't happen. Maybe you should kind of give up the ghost and try something else." But I just believed, and so I kept doing it. I just viewed each of these setbacks as a challenge, and that we wanted to stay in the game. In fact, I think because there were some of these challenges I just redoubled my own commitments. "We're going to make this happen." We were going to stick with it, and the team that we built at AOL shared the passion about this new medium and that we really were pioneers in building something. And what was fun about it is nobody knew what to do and you kind of had to make it up as you go, and that means you're going to make mistakes, and you've got to keep picking yourself up off the floor and keep going.
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Steve Case

Co-Founder, America Online

I think the support of the other team at AOL and everybody's really shared passion and belief about this and -- saying that some day everybody was going to be on line. Some day we were going to be living in a more interactive world. Some day people would feel like they're part of an electronic community. I think just that vision of that, that some day that was going to happen, I think, propelled us. There was many who had questioned whether we would even be around when that happened, but I think most people believed, even the cynics, that probably some day that would happen. And we said, "Well, rather than just sit by and wait, or fold our tent and go do something else, let's keep at it. Maybe we can be the ones who can figure this out," and eventually we were.
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Steve Case

Co-Founder, America Online

When I first got started in the late '70s, early '80s, and first was thinking about the interactive world, I believed so fervently that it was the next big thing, I thought it would happen quickly. What happened then was it's been 10 or 15 years just slogging away at this, and there were many times where it wasn't clear at all it was going to ever happen. So, finally it broke through. So, I think for me it was -- I was overestimating the pace at which it would happen early on, and then I -- and I less than most because I was a believer -- was sort of underestimating exactly when it would happen. And if you look at history of the diffusion of technology, the diffusion of innovation, that almost always happens. People in the early stage -- it goes from nobody knows about it to suddenly they're aware of it and think it's going to happen overnight. It almost never happens overnight, so then there's a period of reflection and disappointment. Sometimes even depression, where someone says, "Oh, it's never going to happen!" and then suddenly the pieces start falling together, and then it takes off and really hits a tipping point where you see the real explosive growth.
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Johnny Cash

Country Music Legend

I grew up in the '40s and I heard all these great speeches, like Winston Churchill. His most famous, or infamous commencement exercise speech was one that consisted of seven words. He stood before this graduating class and said: "Never, never, never, never, never give up." And then somebody else said: "Every day in every way I'm getting better and better." I didn't especially believe that about myself, but I said it every day and I made myself believe it and it worked. I persevered. I never gave up my dream to "sing on the radio." And that dream came true in 1955.
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Johnny Cash

Country Music Legend

Johnny Cash: Sam Phillips, at Sun Records. There was a label called Sun Records in Memphis that was pretty hot, with Elvis Presley, and two or three locally well-known country acts, and some black, blues and gospel singers. When I got out of the Air Force I went and knocked on that door and was turned away. I called back for an interview three or four times, was turned away. So one morning I found out what time the man went to work. I went down with my guitar and sat on his steps until he got there. And when he got there I introduced myself and he said, "You're the one that's been calling." I said, "Yeah." You know, I had to take the chance, he was either going to let me come in, or he was going to run me off, turn me down again. Evidently, he woke up on the right side of the bed that morning. He said, "Come on in, let's listen." So he did. He said, "Come back tomorrow and bring some musicians." So I went down to the garage where I worked, where my brother, Roy worked, and was introduced to two musicians down there. Brought them back to the studio and the next day was our first session. We recorded, and released the songs that we recorded the second day.
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Dale Chihuly

Master Glass Artist

A lot of times when an artist starts an idea, very often people don't like it. Nobody really bought one of these for a couple of years, because they liked my earlier work. A lot of times the artists don't like it either. I remember on a couple of occasions starting a new series of work that I really thought was good, and some of my best friends would pull me aside and kind of tell me that they didn't think that was going to make it. But if you believe in the idea, then you go ahead and do it. At a certain point, maybe you might agree with them after three or four months. You've worked on it and you've developed it, and maybe you let it go. Either let it go or you carry on. For myself, it's usually when I exhibit it for the first time; that usually means I believe in the idea.
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Dale Chihuly

Master Glass Artist

Dale Chihuly: I suppose the most obvious setback that I had, I mean, I lost my brother and my father when I was in high school. And that certainly had a profound effect on me. And then I got in a wreck -- lost the sight of my eye -- in 1976, which made it hard for me to blow glass. It was a near-fatal accident, and six months in recuperation. I suppose that could have been a big setback, but it wasn't. I mean, it didn't get me down that much. I felt fortunate to have survived it. I suppose I could have taken a different perspective on the whole thing. I could have gotten depressed over it, but I didn't. I think sometimes those things make you look at things in a different way. Setbacks. Most setbacks in my own life have been self-inflicted. Depression, or whatever. Something to get you down and out. Usually that comes about for who knows what reason. But in terms of my career, I've been very lucky. I've had a lot of help, a lot of support from other people, and a lot of opportunities. That doesn't mean I didn't make a lot of those opportunities, but I think some of it must be some good luck.
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