What 11 Extremely Successful People were doing as Teenagers


Bill Gates was falling in love with computers.

Inc Bill Gates.

The Microsoft founder spent his early teens attending the prestigious Lakeside prep school in Seattle. While there, Gates discovered his love of computers by writing a computer code for a version of tic-tac-toe.

Gates and fellow student Paul Allen, his Microsoft cofounder, went into business together for the first time in high school. When Gates was 15, the duo created Traf-O-Data, a tool for tracking traffic flow in the area.

After high school, Gates attended Harvard University but dropped out in 1975 to work full-time on Microsoft, which ultimately made him the world’s richest self-made billionaire.

Warren Buffett had multiple revenue streams.

REUTERS/Rick Wilking Warren Buffett.

The billionaire CEO of Berkshire Hathaway started building his wealth early. By the time he was 16, he had earned today’s equivalent of $53,000, according to the biography “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life” by Alice Schroeder.

One of Buffett’s first jobs was delivering The Washington Post. As a teen, he also had several personal business ventures, including selling golf balls, buffing cars, selling stamps, and setting up pinball machines in barbershops.

Oprah Winfrey worked for a local radio station.

Brian Snyder/Reuters Oprah Winfrey.

Winfrey bounced between family members before moving in with her dad in Nashville, Tennessee, at age 14. The move sparked a drastic change in her life.

Winfrey studied her way to honor-roll status at East Nashville High School and became the most popular girl in her class. More importantly, she established a love for media and joined the school’s speech team.

She got her first job when she was 16 as a broadcaster for WVOL, a Nashville radio station. As a 19-year-old sophomore at Tennessee State University, Winfrey got a call from a local television station and left school to start her media career. The gamble paid off.

Mark Zuckerberg was writing computer programs.

Robert Galbraith/Reuters Mark Zuckerberg.

Coding was an early hobby of Zuckerberg’s. The Facebook founder created a messaging program for his dad’s dental office when he was 12.

While enrolled at Phillips Exeter Academy, an exclusive prep school in New Hampshire, Zuckerberg created a music streaming platform that got the attention of AOL and Microsoft. He turned them down.

In his early years at Harvard, Zuckerberg was running Facebook out of his dorm room. He dropped out following his sophomore year to devote his time to the social media platform.


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