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Steve Case

Co-Founder, America Online

So even though Game Line was an abysmal flop, I remember when -- after the first sale cycle over Christmas -- there was a board meeting and I think we reported that we sold like 1,000 of these cartridges and they were supposed to sell 100,000. I can't remember exact numbers but it was way, way, way off plan and really an unmitigated disaster. And after the sales report was presented, one of the directors said, "Geez, you would have thought they would have shoplifted more than that." That's how bleak the situation was, but nevertheless I think I learned a lot about timing and how some things just have to be in the right place at the right time. I learned a lot about innovation and how you create different products and I met some people that we went off and started AOL in 1985. So, I guess it's all's well that ends well.
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Steve Case

Co-Founder, America Online

First with Commodore we created a service called Q-Link and then with Apple we created a service called Apple Link Personal Edition, and then with Tandy we created a service called PC Link, and then with IBM we created a service called Promenade. So for about five years we really were in the business of creating these private label online services for PC companies, and had them bundle that software, that service, with their PCs. And we focused -- once people turned on that PC and wanted to use the service -- on providing something that people would like and want to pay a monthly fee for. So really, I think, the fact that we saw how hard it was to build a consumer product and make it successful led us to this, I think, very pragmatic strategy of focusing on PCs and partnering with the companies that already had brand recognition and already had distribution, and could help attract customers for us much more efficiently.
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Steve Case

Co-Founder, America Online

Steve Case: Williams College is a classic liberal arts school, so there is nothing really business-oriented about it. There's no business classes. There's no marketing classes. It's really a more traditional kind of thing. So my degree was in political science, which I think was -- the closest I could come to marketing is politics. You know, for better or worse, a lot about marketing and positioning candidates and so forth, but I was sort of interested in it anyway. So, I wouldn't say that any specific course really was instrumental. I do think that a general liberal arts education is very important, particularly in an uncertain changing world. I think what a liberal arts perspective gives you, is you know a little bit about a lot of things, and look at the world as sort of a mosaic and kind of see how the pieces come together. I think that gives you a perspective that I found to be very valuable. And so in one sense, there's nothing specific that I learned that was applicable. In another sense everything I learned was a useful foundation. Because I do think -- not just in building AOL -- but just the world in which we live is a very confusing, rapidly changing world where technology has accelerated.
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Steve Case

Co-Founder, America Online

I think it took us nine years to get one million subscribers to AOL, and then in the next nine years we went from one million to 35 million. We were adding a million every couple of months. And so, it just shows you that you just got to -- you stick it out. If you believe that some day it's going to happen, some day it probably will happen. You just have to make sure you're there when it's happening, and ideally you're at the front of the parade, and the principle beneficiary of when it happens, but it's not a kind of thing where you just sort of sit back and wait. The actions you take really help influence the pace at which it gets adopted. For example, the issue of essentially being the evangelist within the PC industry that modems should become a built-in part of a PC. It took us a while, but if we hadn't done that I don't know where we'd be today, but I know we would not be the kind of interactive society we are today, because that was a major kind of breakthrough. So you know, other companies weren't doing that. We took the lead in doing that. That's true in any new, innovative area. Somebody needs to step up and take the lead, and ultimately they end up benefiting, and others end up benefiting as well. But it's not like you just sit back and eventually it's going to happen. It's going to happen when people make it happen, and you have to kind of have a strategy that is pragmatic at one level, so you can hang in for the long run, but proactive in another level, so you can actually try to accelerate the pace that it's going to take for something to take off.
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Johnny Cash

Country Music Legend

I start a lot more songs than I finish, because I realize when I get into them, they're no good. I don't throw them away, I just put them away, store them, get them out of sight. When I get an idea for a song it would gel in my mind for weeks or months, and then one day just like that, I'll write it. Songwriting is a very strange thing as far as I'm concerned. It's not something that I can say, "Next Tuesday morning, I'm gonna sit down and write songs." I can't do that. No way. If I say, I'm going to the country and take a walk in the woods next Tuesday, then the probability is, next Tuesday night I might write a song Creative people have to be fed from the divine source. I do. I have to get fed. I have to get filled up in order to pour out. Really have to.
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Dale Chihuly

Master Glass Artist

So I collaborated with a lot of people, with people that were better than me. I collaborated with students. I just wanted to make things. At that time, we didn't care what it was for or who it was for. So I learned a lot from a lot of different people, and I learned to work with a team, and glassblowing is done best as a team. So I got good at directing and working with a team, and that enabled me to do more things. If you needed a bigger project, bigger team. And when I had the money, I would get a facility and hire the people. When I didn't have the money, I'd beg them to help me! Whatever it took to do the work. So slowly, I got, I guess it was about five years after I quit teaching that I could afford to get my own space. I could afford to make a down payment on a $250,000 building, and then a year or two later rent a building and build a $50,000 glass shop or something. And so then I had my own studio and my own shop. And then five years later, I could buy a bigger building and build a bigger shop and have a bigger team. And so now, I have, I don't know, I probably have the biggest studio of just about anybody, in glass or anything else, for that matter. I have a big team of people.
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Dale Chihuly

Master Glass Artist

It's important to find ways to help it happen. If you're an artist, you need to work, you need to draw. If you're a writer, you need to write. If you don't allow it to come in, it's less likely to happen. But it can happen in any way. Somebody could write a poem, I suppose, in five minutes, and somebody else might take a year, but that doesn't make one better than the other. It does tend to help to have had a few years' experience, to be creative. Although you can see it, creativity, in young students and young people. Some are more creative than others, but it helps to have understood the craft usually. Like cooking dinner, you know, you might have a shot at if you're 15 years old, but somebody who's 25 years old is gonna better know how to do it. You have to know the materials, and you have to have worked with the materials.
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