WHAT YOU DO WITH WHAT YOU KNOW MATTERS: College Majors Are Not the Predictor of Entrepreneurial Success

This is the time of year when families all over the world await word on where their children will be going to college. It is also the time when the students are asked to think about their major fields of study. Having been though this process five times with my five children, I have some advice for parents and kids alike: It’s not what you major in that predicts your future. It’s what you do with what you know that matters!

A recent article in Inc. Magazine on what influential tech CEOs studied in college confirmed my advice (https://www.inc.com/business-insider/elon-musk-jeff-bezos-tim-cook-tech-ceos-studied-college-degree.html ) and show that there many paths to the top of a mountain. Consider these majors of tech icons:

            -Alibaba CEO Jack Ma has a B.A. in… English

            -YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has B.A.’s in…History, Literature and Economics

            -LinkedIn CEO Reed Hoffman has an M.S. in…Philosophy

            -Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman has a B.A. in…Economics

            -Tesla CEO Elon Musk has a B.A. in…Economics

            -Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel studied…Product Design

            -FaceBook CEO Mark Zuckerberg studied…Psychology

            -Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has a B.A. in…Industrial Design

            -Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe has a B.A. in…International Studies

            -Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff got his B.A. in…Business Administration

            -Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield has a M.A. in…Philosophy

-Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Apple’s Steve Jobs had… well, “unknown” majors.

Furthermore four of these—Spiegel, Zuckerberg, Gates and Jobs—dropped out of college.

For three decades I have worked with innovative companies whose founders have a broad, interdisciplinary education. They also have had some global living and/or travel under their belts, which has given them the invaluable gift of “perspective.”

So to those entering college I encourage you to choose a major that engenders passion in you, and be sure to build into you college years some time to see the world!