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 3 of the episode we chat about:

  • Becoming the #2 or #3 exec at IBM and wanting to become the next CEO
  • Not having the best relationship with the current CEO
  • Considering options for his next move after spending 28 years at IBM 
  • Negotiating his first CEO role at Symantec
  • Leading Symantec & becoming one of the highest paid CEOs in the world
  • Biggest challenge as CEO
  • Being asked by Bill Gates to become chairman of Microsoft's Board of Directors
  • Current passions and future focus