Paths to Success: Five Career Lessons To Learn From Larry Ellison

Larry Ellison is the co-founder of Oracle, one of the world’s most successful tech companies—and more importantly, he is widely believed to have inspired Robert Downey Jr.’s performance as Iron Man. Here are five career lessons that you can learn from Ellison, a college dropout-turned-billionaire.

 Turn your disadvantages into motivation.

Growing up in the impoverished South Side of Chicago to working-class immigrants, Ellison was repeatedly told by his adoptive father that he was good for nothing. However, these circumstances motivated Ellison to get ahead; in his own words, Ellison “had all of the disadvantages required for success.”

 Keep picking up skills while you’re employed.

After dropping out of the University of Chicago and moving to California, Ellison spent a decade working at different jobs. However, Ellison used his time away from work to learn how to program, eventually picking up his first programming job at Amdahl Corporation.

Read up!

Ellison taught himself to program by studying books and papers. His billion-dollar idea to create Oracle was also inspired by his reading; Ellison first came up with the concept behind the company when he came across an IBM paper about the SQL programming language.

Join clubs and attend events.

To familiarize himself with the computer science industry, Ellison attended programming-related events and club meetings. Although he had little computer science experience at the time, these occasions allowed him to network and get his foot in the door.

Focus on finding your ideal work environment.

Ellison claims that becoming a billionaire was never his goal; rather, he approached his career with the aim of finding an environment in which he would enjoy working. This career philosophy ensured that Ellison would find a job that he was genuinely passionate about.

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