Ted Waitt (Gateway) Keys to Success

In a recent speech at the Dean Executive Leadership Series of the Graziadio School of Business and Management (Pepperdine University) Dr. Linda Livingston (Dean) interviewed Ted Waitt, co-founder and former CEO of Gateway Corporation. Ted’s energy and charisma are not doubt captivating, but his story is far more powerful. Ted shared a little about his background and starting Gateway, and moved on to share 10 keys to success you will not learn in business school. 10 keys along with my notes:

1. Vision:  The ability to see what has not yet been done.

2. Faith and Belief:  Either personal and/or religious. You must believe you can do it.

3. Being Naïve:  Setting no limitations on yourself. Ted jokes, ” We were too stupid to know what we were not supposed to do to accomplish goals. We thought we could do anything.” This self-confident winning attitude is key.

4. Ignorance:  Not of knowledge, but the ability to ignore negative people, distractions, naysayers, etc. People will always say “you can’t.” Ted never read the press whether it was good or bad.

5. Common Sense:   “Common sense is something not so common these days.” Many businessmen and leaders are trapped in paralysis by analysis.

6. Risk and Gut:  “Don’t be afraid to put it all on the line. ” A great example of this was Gateway’s advertising featuring cows and farms. There was no market research conducted for this.  Ted wanted the advertising to resemble where he came from, a farm in Iowa.  He thouught it was hilarious because nothing was more contradictory than cows and computers.  Soon Gateway’s logo and brand indentity became one of the most recognized logos ever.

7. Sacrifices:  “Pay yourself enough to live even if this amount is less than your employees.” Ted Waitt’s spending was conservative, in fact,  it became a value for the company. They did not fall prey to the glamour of fancy offices, planes, sports cars, etc. They kept it real.

8. Persistence: Don’t give up, keep going at it. Ted shared this quote that is one of two on his desk: “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” -Calvin Coolidge quotes (American 30th President of the United States, 1872-1933)

9. Improvisation: “Be open to changes, any type of change!  No plan, ever, will unfold exactly like you plan it. Be flexible and receptive to do things differently.

10. Fun:  “Life is short, make the most out of it! Build the life that you want. You can do whatever you dream, if you put your mind to it!”

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In May 2005, Ted Waitt formally retired as Chairman of Gateway. Today he is the founder and CEO of two major philantropic organizations: Avalon Capital Group, Inc. (private investment company with diverse interests in technology, energy, health care, finance, and entertainment) and The Waitt Family Foundation (a nonprofit organization dedicated to the improvement of mankind’s knowledge through historical and scientific exploration). The Waitt Insitutes–the Waitt Institute for Discovery, and the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention–created in 2005, have allowed the Foundation to broaden its program interests to the global community.twwaug2006.jpg

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