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Michael Dell

Founder & Chairman, Dell Inc.

Around Thanksgiving of 1983, my parents kind of made me commit that I wasn't going to do this computer business anymore. I was only going to focus on my studies. So that lasted about ten days. It was during that time that I decided that I was going to start a company. So actually, my parents telling me to stop doing it is probably what caused the company to get created. If they hadn't done that it might've just been a hobby. But what I kind of reflected on in those ten days is that I really love this, and it was enormously exciting, tremendously fun. So like any other 18-year-old who wants to do what their parents don't want them to do, you just don't tell them. So that's what I did. I kind of went about the path to start the company without really telling my parents.
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Michael Dell

Founder & Chairman, Dell Inc.

If you look at our story, at any point in the process you could've gone to conventional experts. In fact, I remember -- I won't name the person, 'cause he's still an extremely well-known author of famous business books, teaches at a very prominent university -- I showed up at a conference when the company was three or four years old, and he was sort of critiquing our business. And he said, "Oh, this will never work." And it was a common experience. When we launched our business in the United Kingdom, we had about 22 journalists show up. And it was sort of funny, because about three or four weeks before we launched, we started actually selling. And the thing was just going like crazy. It was just growing so, so fast, which is a good thing, because when we had the launch, about 21 of the 22 journalists said, "Oh, this is a horrible idea. Never work in the U.K. It's a completely American idea. Don't even think about coming here. You should just pack your bags and go home." Lucky for me we'd already started. "Hey guys, love to entertain some more questions but I got to go back to the office, 'cause we're busy taking orders and making computers."
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Michael Dell

Founder & Chairman, Dell Inc.

We had real challenges in how fast can you build factories and how fast can you hire people and put up new buildings. Hyper-growth sounds really fun and exciting, but, I learned the hard way, there is such a thing as growing too fast, where the wheels sort of come off and you have to take a time out and say, "Wait a second here, let's prioritize." I was absolutely to blame. We were going and doing so many things at one time, 'cause we were really excited. We were like, "Okay, we're going to go in this business, we're going to go in that business, we're going to go to this country and this new product and this new service " It was just too much of a good thing. We had to really sort of hone it back.
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Joan Didion

National Book Award

I did see myself as a novelist, even though I was having trouble finishing this first novel. After it was published, it was only read by about ten people, but they happened to be ten people who gave it to ten other people and eventually -- you know, not only was it not a commercial success, it wasn't by any means, I don't think, a success on its own terms. I didn't know how to do it, and it ended up, because I didn't know how to do it -- I wanted to have a shattered narrative, but I didn't have a clue how to do that, and so it was confusing. So the publisher pressed me to straighten out the chronology, so it became just a simple novel with a flashback, which wasn't my intention at all. But anyway, enough people read it so that I was offered a contract for a second novel.
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David Herbert Donald

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Biography

David Herbert Donald: Lincoln loved to ride the circuit over many counties all over central Illinois. He turned up at circuit after circuit. This was not altogether enjoyment. This is the way he made his living, and often he was away from his wife and his family for weeks at a time, and poor Mary suffered as a result, but this is the way he made his living. It was very important for him to be able to go into a county that he didn't live in, quickly identify himself, and have young attorneys come up to him and say, "I have this kind of case, and I am not sure about my brief. Would you be co-defendant with me?" And he would pick it up, and within a day, he would have a marvelous way of putting the issues, so the judge would be able to follow. Now, this gave him, first of all, a very wide constituency. In central Illinois, there was hardly a person who did not know Abraham Lincoln at least by sight, and in turn, Lincoln had a very wide following of people that he knew. He had a tenacious memory. So that he would encounter somebody in the streets of Springfield and say, "Oh, I remember we were in Logan County together, weren't we?" And the fellow would say, so proud, "Mr. Lincoln remembers me." All of this built up a constituency for him. He understood very well that a public man has to have that kind of following, and he had it as a lawyer. He had it as a state representative. He had it as he ran for the Senate, and especially after he became president.
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David Herbert Donald

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Biography

David Herbert Donald: Stanton first met Lincoln, I believe, in a trial case in Cincinnati. Lincoln had been brought in to have a true Western lawyer on the team. He had worked very hard on the case, drew up an elaborate brief, was all ready to make the argument, and when he got to the courthouse, he found that Stanton and the people he had already chosen had made the arguments, and he had no role at all. When word came to Stanton that Lincoln expected to speak, Stanton said, "That gorilla from Illinois?" and he just wouldn't let him get in front of the courtroom. Lincoln was terribly hurt. He had not only wasted a lot of time, but also he was not used to being looked down on, and so for a time then, there was friction, and one might want to have said there would be mortal friction. When Lincoln became president and when his first Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, did not work out well, Lincoln knew that it's time to have somebody very able, very skillful, and as blunt as Stanton had been to him in Cincinnati. So he called Stanton in. Stanton was dubious. After all, he didn't know anything much about Lincoln. Lincoln had little experience at that time. Maybe Lincoln would try to dominate him. Lincoln brought him into the family. He listened to him very carefully. He took great interest in the Stanton children. The Stantons often summered out at the Soldiers Home where Lincoln and Mary Lincoln summered. He got to know them that way, and gradually the Lincolns and the Stantons became really quite good friends, and Lincoln trusted him. Stanton I'm not sure ever trusted anybody, but as far as Lincoln was concerned, that was nearly as near a person he could really confide in. So by the end of the war, they were thinking about the same things in the same way, and Stanton had become a true ally.
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David Herbert Donald

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Biography

David Herbert Donald: Lincoln had, I think, as little experience as anybody who has occupied the White House. Think back on it. He had served one term in Congress without distinction. He had never been mayor of his town, never been governor of his state. He had never been a member of a Supreme Court. He was very little known, and there was a feeling that he had never actually done anything much. He was recognized as a good lawyer, but he was the head of a two-man law firm only, not one of the big Chicago firms. They did try to enlist him, by the way, to come up to Chicago and live. He said no. He was used to a really small firm in Springfield. So how did a man like that learn experience? How did he learn to cope with people, how to lead? Well first of all, he had an innate tact. Second, he started off with some bad blunders. It took time for him to get on his feet, so to speak. Almost any new president, as a matter of fact, it took time to learn the ropes in Washington. He worked at it very closely and very hard, and by the middle of his first term, he was already a master politician, well endowed with the knowledge it takes to rule in Congress, to make suggestions, and to get your way, but it was not something that came easy for him. He had to work at it.
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