Entrepreneur of the Century—Michael Dell

He’s one of the great success stories of the modern era: a college dropout whose operating principle revolutionized the business world. And made him soooo rich.

Michael Dell’s mantra these days is “be direct,” so I decided to take him up on it. “You and I are a lot alike,” I said as we sat in the conference room down the hall from his office in Building One on the Dell Computer campus in Round Rock. “We’re about the same age. We’re both nice Jewish boys from big cities. We both sold newspaper subscriptions. My daughter goes to the school your kids went to. But you’re worth billions, and I’m not. Why? Why you and not me?”

For a moment Dell looked at me as if I were crazy, then realized I was kidding. He smiled as broadly as he would in our time together and returned the volley. “Why not you?” he

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