Why Some Entrepreneurs Couldn’t Wait to Leave School Behind

School is not for everyone, and some of the most successful people left school without getting a degree. Some didn’t even make it to upper level-classes. Their ranks include such magnates as Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs. Others made it through to a bachelor’s degree, but it wasn’t necessarily pretty – Mark Cuban and Chris Burch fall more in that category.

Need for More Experiential Learning

Many believe that part of the problem is these high achievers are always looking for the application of principles rather than the simple academic understanding of them. Chris Burch paid his way through college with odd jobs before ultimately beginning his own fashion business and selling it less than 15 years later when it was valued at $60 million. Mark Cuban started selling sets of garbage bags when he was just 12 years old to save for a pair of shoes he wanted. He worked his way through his education and later educated himself while working. But though he’s smart and talented, school is a different way of doing things.

Of course, Richard Branson’s story is a rare but wonderful journey. Branson left school at the age of 16 with problems from dyslexia making school difficult. It wasn’t that his family didn’t have smart and talented people, his mother was a ballet dancer, his father a barrister, and his grandfather a high court judge in England. But as many with dyslexia have before him, he overcame the problem to create a great future for himself. Branson’s imagination roamed free when the letters and numbers didn’t always make sense.

One Area of Specialization

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs both left college before graduating and their stories are so iconic they don’t need to be told. They were driven in one direction instead of following the broader requirements of a full education. It isn’t that these guys haven’t shown over the years they could excel at many things, but in their youth they were driven (as was Mark Cuban), to create something the world had not seen before in the computer field.

Since their early years, all of these entrepreneurs have shown their diversity and imagination in a variety of pursuits. As they’ve succeeded, they’ve also given much of their substantial fortunes back to organizations doing good works or helping others in their own areas of specialization.

School may not have come easy to them, but life didn’t hold back on the opportunities as they fought their way over various hurdles to build their empires. Some kept to certain areas and others, like Chris Burch have invested their time, talent, and resources in a wide array of industries, choosing to invest in people they find compelling rather than a business concept.

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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.