Geoffrey Moffett

March 27, 2023

From Bookstores to Rockets: The Surprising Paths of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sam Altman to Success

It's easy to assume that successful people were born with some inherent talent or advantage that enabled them to achieve greatness. However, the reality is frequently quite different. "Sometimes it takes an outsider," as the saying goes.


Take, for example, Elon Musk. He may now be one of the world's foremost experts on rockets and space travel, but he wasn't always that way. Musk's background is in computer science and economics rather than engineering or astrophysics. Nonetheless, he was able to use his knowledge and creative thinking to shake up an industry that had been stagnant for decades.

Sam Altman, the former president of startup accelerator Y Combinator, is in the same boat. Altman has a background in computer science, but he had no experience in AI research when he became interested in it. He was, however, able to use his entrepreneurship expertise and ability to identify promising startups to become a leader in the AI community.

Then there's Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. Jeff started his career in business after graduating from Princeton University in 1986. He worked for several companies in the finance industry, including Fitel and Bankers Trust. In 1990, he became the youngest vice president at the investment firm D.E. Shaw & Co.

While at D.E. Shaw, Bezos became interested in the emerging field of e-commerce and the potential of the internet as a platform for retail. In 1994, he left his job and moved to Seattle to start, an online bookstore that he initially operated out of his garage.

Bezos used his own money and investments from friends and family to fund Amazon's early growth. The company quickly expanded beyond books and into a wide range of other products, becoming one of the largest retailers in the world.

Finally, we have Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. When he was developing the social network, Zuckerberg may have had some technical skills, but he didn't have a large circle of friends to draw from. Instead, he drew on his own experiences and observations to build a platform that would eventually connect billions of people worldwide.

The point is that having the right background or credentials does not always guarantee success. To achieve greatness, it is sometimes necessary to have a fresh perspective and be willing to think outside the box. So, if you're thinking about starting a business or changing careers, don't let a lack of experience stop you. 

Remember that sometimes it takes an outsider to make a significant difference.

About Geoffrey Moffett

Hey!  I'm Geoffrey and right now 110% of my time is focused on building Triovia, a digital and social media marketing education company.  

In this small part of the internet I blog about thoughts, stories and ideas.