Vibes From My BDBAC Talk: Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg Are Not Dropouts

Vibes From My BDBAC Talk: Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg Are Not Dropouts

A blogger captured a brief element of my BDBAC talk earlier in the month – still expecting the full video from the organizers. On the Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates line, I had made it before: Mark and Bill were premium-dropouts because they left boring university teachers they paid money. via tuitions, to join dynamic venture capitalists that paid them money, as investors, and yet offered anything professors could have provided them.

In a way, they replaced mass-training professors in Harvard with private Harvard-quality professors. If you check very well, they got better deals. You cannot have a private Harvard-quality professor and still claim you dropped out!

Now, you can see why a kid in Nigeria must stay in school and stop touting how Mark and Bill dropped out to build Facebook and Microsoft respectively. They did not drop out – they upgraded from the common mass educational system to another type that is more premium! But admission into that one requires having a great product vision which makes it harder; getting the cut is not for drop outs but visionaries transiting into a new domain.

Summary from the blogger:

The Co-Chairman of JPL Financial Group, a California-based financial advisory firm and blogs at Harvard Business Review, Prof. Ndubuisi Ekekwe speaking on Abundance in the Data of Nations said:

“Data analytics knowledge in Nigeria is at infancy stage. But, opportunities abound as there are many aspects of our economy and culture that foreign ideas won’t solve the problems; they require local talents. Start-ups and young entrepreneurs are going to tap into it. For instance, Kobo360 is doing very great in their areas”.

He highlighted the importance of education that reflects the 21st Century learning which does not depend on paper qualifications.

“Education: It is so painful that we deceive ourselves. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of school but didn’t drop out of learning. They left the four walls of the university where professors taught them to the boardroom where venture capitalist taught them and also wrote the cheques.

“Africa needs to build processes; not to prepare the young people for certificates but a life time growth trajectory.

He also called for broadband affordability as key to unleash Big Data and Business Analytics in Africa. “It amazes me that Facebook can be free in Nigeria but most online courses and materials are not free. I believe that with Satellite broadband will bring down the cost of connectivity and most African kids can have access to the internet to learn new courses and improve on their skills”.

NB: Photo – With Emeka Okoye, CEO of Cymantiks, after my talk in BDBAC this month.

LinkedIn Comment on Feed

COMMENT #1: I think we need to redefine the concept of education and its qualifiers, that way – the notion of equating quality education with four walls of classroom in a certain location in the world could become moribund.

If the purpose of education is to liberate minds, then the mind that does not suffer any form of inhibition or distraction is the most educated of course. Schools make it possible to standardise learning and make it robust, reducing biases or tendency for one to only learn about few things that interest him/her. Schools also make it possible for a teacher to not only teach the subject he/she likes or the one that pleases, which could lead to skewed learning outcome.

The greatest institutions remain humans, not the buildings or locations where they are sited. If Harvard or MIT professors come to your village to teach you, obviously you have acquired a Harvard/MIT level of education, but you may not receive a paper certificate bearing those iconic names.

Some of us have been privileged to learn from the finest minds across the globe, without sitting in classrooms to be taught by them. With a lifelong learning mindset, you could be more educated than your professors, only that they have the papers...

COMMENT #2: Interesting fact. And just like young Nigerians keep holding on to the assertion that Mark, Bezos, and co started in a garage and built a world-class business, so they too can start from nothing.

But the bitter truth is that none started from nothing. Mark and Saverin invested a thousand dollars each (approximately N300k then) in 2004 to start Facebook of which within a few months they got a seed capital of $500k from Peter Thiel.

In the same light, according to Bezos recently, he brought together about 20 investors who brought in checks of $50k each raising a seed capital of $1million for Amazon. This is excluding the initial investment he got from his rich parents.

These guys started from their garages but surely didn’t start with just a laptop and an internet connection. Money was invested.

So, thinking they are school dropouts and wanting to “imitate” them might be a big mistake. With these tech gurus, there is more to them than we think. They are the most educated bunch we have seen.

The Mirage of Lagos Dropouts – Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates


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