My father and his brothers were all lawyers, so I think that the expectation was probably for me to grow up to be an attorney, but it never really fascinated me that much. I was more interested in building things.
One of the biggest challenges we had in the first decade was not that many people had personal computers. There weren't that many people to sell to, and it was hard to identify them.
One of the problems with computers, particularly for the older people, is they were befuddled by them, and the computers have gotten better. They have gotten easier to use. They have gotten less expensive. The software interfaces have made things a lot more accessible.
So you have to force yourself out of a comfort zone and really try to figure out what are the key ingredients, the key skill sets, the key perspectives that are necessary, and then figure out a way to attract the very best people to fill those particular roles.
The idea that maybe you don't have to own a car if you only need one occasionally may catch on, just like time-sharing caught on in real estate.
We don't want to turn the TV into a computer.
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.
You have to get along with people, but you also have to recognize that the strength of a team is different people with different perspectives and different personalities.
I'd say one of the great lessons I've learned over the past couple of decades, from a management perspective, is that really when you come down to it, it really is all about people and all about leadership.
But the idea that someday 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.
Five or ten years ago, when it was clear the Internet was becoming a mainstream phenomenon, it was equally clear that a lot of people were being left out and could be left behind.
For better or worse, that is true with any new innovation, certainly any new technological innovation. There's many good things that come out of it, but also some bad things. All you can do is try to maximize the good stuff and minimize the bad stuff.
I continue to have a special pride and passion for AOL, and I strongly believe that AOL—once the leading Internet company in the world—can return to its past greatness.
I do think actually in this case the government does get credit for funding some of the basic research.
I do think that a general liberal arts education is very important, particularly in an uncertain changing world.
I enjoyed high school and college, and I think I learned a lot, but that was not really my focus. My focus was on trying to figure out what businesses to start.
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.
I was not an outstanding student. I did a reasonable amount of work. I got generally good—pretty good grades, but I was not that passionate about getting straight A's.
If you're doing something new you've got to have a vision. You've got to have a perspective. You've got to have some north star you're aiming for, and you just believe somehow you'll get there, which kind of gets to the passion point.
It's stunning to me what kind of an impact even one person can have if they have the right passion, perspective and are able to align the interest of a great team.
Memorable Quotations: Business Leaders
Memorable Quotations from Business Leaders (Kindle Book)
Books by Jim Dell
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