Born to hard-working, working class parents, John W. Thompson grew up in a small town in Florida, where he was first introduced to business at the early age of 10 by mowing lawns and helping his father collect rent checks.

Upon graduating high school, an encounter with racism as a freshman at Lincoln University led him to transfer to Florida A&M University, where he parlayed his natural 'knack' for sales into a full-time role within IBM's coveted sales program. John rose from trainee to large account salesman almost overnight, becoming chief of staff of IBM's Northeast region and clinching a fellowship to get his MBA at MIT.

Rising to become GM of IBM Americas, he left  IBM after nearly 28 years to run Symantec, building it into a Fortune 500 firm and becoming one of the world's highest paid CEOs. John's served on the boards of Microsoft, UPS and Teach for America in addition to being an owner of the Golden State Warriors.

In part 1 of the episode we chat about:

  • His humble upbringing and biggest influences growing up
  • Transferring to Florida A&M University after encountering racism
  • Becoming a father early in life/college
  • The importance of a sales background & realizing he could compete at the top
  • Value of getting an MBA and the international exposure it provided