Reboot Your Life: A Lesson from the Forbes 400 Richest People in America

“Reboot” is often a term used in association with computers – to reboot a computer is to restart it.  But recently, I’ve heard of people who are rebooting themselves or rebooting their lives, meaning that they’re starting over, or recreating themselves.

I can understand why you’d want to reboot yourself if things aren’t going as well as you’d hoped, or if you want to make some significant change in your life – like start your own business or find a new career.   But reboot yourself when you’re at the top of your game and enjoying great success?  Doesn’t seem to make sense, does it?

Last week, I bought a copy of the Forbes 400 Richest People in America. It is a special edition that Forbes has published each October for 29 years, featuring, as the title implies, profiles of the 400 richest people in America.

I’ve read the Forbes 400 since I was a teen.  My dad would buy it each year because he found it interesting to read the stories of how the rich and famous got to be, well, you know, rich and famous.  Somehow, I got interested in it myself and have been reading it each year since.  I was especially fascinated to read about the people from Michigan (my home state) who made the list.

While reading the 2010 Forbes 400, I was particularly interested in an article entitled, A Select Breed:  The Rebooted Rich.  It describes how a few notable entrepreneurs, having found great success in their lives, refused to rest on the laurels of that success, but went on to reboot themselves and create new levels of success – sometimes in the field that first brought them success, but many times in brand new fields.

The article featured people like:

George Lindemann (number 269 on the list) who first got rich in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals but who made three more fortunes in cable TV (Vision Cable Communications), mobile phones (Metro Mobile), and gas pipelines (Southern Union).

Barry Diller (number 332) who was a successful TV and movie producer who went on to huge success in internet commerce and cable tv.  Ever hear of Ticketmaster, Home Shopping Network or Match.com?  Those are all his!

Steve Jobs (number 42) got booted from Apple in 1985. Instead of dabbling in little things here and there like Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, Jobs went on to create bigger success.  He started NeXT Computer which he later sold to Apple for $429 million and 1.5 million Apple Shares.  He bought Pixar for $5 million and later sold it to Disney for $7.4 billion 20 years later.  Then he returned to Apple and rebooted it to greater heights with the success of the iPod, the iPhone, the Ipad, etc.  Forbes reports that Apple’s value has grown thirtyfold since 2001.

Warren Buffet (number 2), the world’s most famous and successful investor, has rebooted his investing style at least three times.  For the first 15 years of his career, he was a pure value investor looking for incredible deals and steals.  Then for 20 years he looked for strong brands he could make stronger.  More recently, he has invested opportunistically, buying high quality companies when their stock prices have dropped.

Larry Ellison (number 3), who built Oracle as a successful database software company but then diversified Oracle by purchasing 60 other companies over the last 10 years.

Bill Gates (number 1), who made his billions, and changed the world, through software development, and is now rebooting himself as a philanthropist who seeks to change the world through his giving.

All of these people, having achieved great success and wealth, could have easily retired and enjoyed a life of leisure for the rest of their days.  But they didn’t.  They looked for new challenges, new opportunities, and new ways to achieve their goals and dreams.  They rebooted themselves.

My takeaway is this:  Everyone should seek to live to their full potential.  No matter what level of success you have achieved, if you’ve still got a dream or desire in you…keep going, keep striving for it.

And one thing I’m always reminded of is that it’s not all about the money either.  In fact, I think the best way to make a difference, and be truly successful in this life, is to build into the lives of others and help them succeed.

What do you think?

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Comments

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