“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) ended his time in school after three months. If he fit the mold of what most people expect of dropouts, his story would end there.
It didn’t. Edison built a career for the history books – and he started young.
- Sold candy and vegetables to supplement his family’s meager income as a young boy. Began his first entrepreneurial venture – The Grand Trunk Herald – before the age of 15.
- Self-taught through reading works such as Isaac Newton’s Principia, Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason, and David Hume’s History of England before he was a teenager.
- Invented – at least as the patents to his name show – 1,090 designs, processes, and products.
Though he is most known for the invention of the first useful monofilament light bulb, Edison performed many other feats from his famous laboratory in Menlo Park. The motion picture camera, phonograph, the electric train, stock ticker, telegraphy, and battery storage all bear Edison’s stamp.
Just as impressively, Edison founded and led several of the businesses that brought his inventions into the world for the first time, including General Electric. He continued his lifelong love of learning and creative work until his death in 1931, piloting the first electric train to hit the tracks in 1930.
Edison succeeded in becoming one of America’s most prolific inventors and entrepreneurs without even making it through grade school. What excuses might be holding you back from doing great work?