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Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was born in 1955. He was the unplanned son of a Syrian father and an American mother, and because his parents were not allowed to marry, his mother decided to give the baby up for adoption. She chose a nice (meaning rich an educated) catholic couple as his adoptive parents, but they changed their mind and chose to adopt a girl instead of a boy. The baby was then sent to a blue collar couple in the Bay Area, and Steve’s mother was not happy. The matter was taken to court and she pushed to have the baby relocated to a different family. She only consented to let him stay after the adoptive parents promised he would be attending college. It was a rough start for both the boy and his new parents, and his adoptive mother has even stated that she was scared to love him (and lose him) in the first few months after the court case was closed. As he grew, he turned out to be a difficult child, and at two years old, she has stated that she even thought they’d made a mistake and wanted to return the boy. Steve knew about these thoughts of his adoptive parents, but never admonished them for it. He has always stood by their side, and counted himself blessed to have had them as parents. He flippantly refers to his biological parents as his ‘sperm and egg bank’, so there’s no doubt where his love and loyalties lie.

Jobs grew up learning mechanics, craftsmanship and electronics, working alongside his father on household projects. Steve was a difficult student until 4th grade, finding it hard to make friends and constantly getting into trouble at school. He claimed it was mostly due to boredom, and his father supported him, against the reprimands from the school, remarking they were not doing enough to challenge him, gifted as he was. When he reached 4th grade he also got a new teacher, who managed to reach Jobs in a way no one had done before. Instead of forcing, threatening or coaxing him into working, she bribed him. This kindled an enthusiasm for learning that Jobs had never felt before, and he has credited this teacher for turning him around.

Steve Jobs attended high school in the famed Silicon Valley, and he continued with his engineering interest as well as developing a new interest in the arts and creative subjects. It was also around this time that his friendship with Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak, was founded. After high school, Jobs attended Reed College for a while, but dropped out after realizing he didn’t want to waste his parents’ hard earned money. He eventually got a job as a technician, based on work done by Steve Wozniak. Jobs was described as being difficult but valuable. Later in life, and after spending a significant amount of time in India, Jobs became a Zen Buddhist.

The very first Apple computer was invented in 1976. Not by Steve Jobs, but by Steve Wozniak. Together with Ronald Wayne, they formed the company Apple Computer, and started running it from Jobs’ home in California. The company was incorporated in 1977, and went public in 1980. The first Macintosh was launched in 1984 as the first personal computer of its kind. This symbolised the spark of Apple’s huge commercial success, and the company has skyrocketed since, despite hitting snags and bumps along the way.

Steve Jobs died in 2011 after a relapse of his, previously treated, pancreatic cancer. Many say that it was his trust in magical thinking that killed him, and that he would have survived if he had opted for traditional and trusted cancer treatments instead of going the alternative route.

Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi is the Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo. She was born in Madras, India in 1955, to a Tamil-speaking family. Her family had the means to put her through a reputable secondary school, and later, also through college. She attended Madras Christian College and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics in 1974. After tha, she went on to study at the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta, where she received a Post Graduate Diploma in Management in 1976.

She started her management career in India, with positions at the textile company Mettur Beardsell as well as at Johnson & Johnson. Nooyi didn’t believe her education was finished and was admitted to Yale School of Management in 1978. Her parents did not want her to go to the US, but she went anyway. She worked her way through her degree as a dorm receptionist, always going for the ‘graveyard shift’ as it paid a whopping 50 cents extra per hour. She finally earned a Master’s degree in Public and Private Management after two years of study. Yale opened up a lot of doors for the young Indian woman and among the opportunities was a summer internship at Booz Allen Hamilton. After graduating in 1980 she got a job with Boston Consulting Group, before moving on to hold important positions with both Motorola and Asea Brown Boveri.

After making a name for herself in the American business world, she was snatched up by PepsiCo in 1994, and given the position of chief strategist. It didn’t take more than seven years before she held the titles of president and CFO. Nooyi has held the top position for 15 years now, and has had a huge influence on the restructuring of the company, as well as the rise in net profit. She was given the title of CEO in 2006, as the 5th person in the company’s history.

In 2014, Fortune named Nooyi the 3rd most powerful woman in business, and she has consistently been at the top in other similar rankings, both as top influential and powerful women of the world as well as people of the world.

One of her clever and fun strategic redirections for the PepsiCo company, was her reclassification of the company’s products into three new categories. The “fun for you” categories hold items such as regular soda and potato chips. The “better for you category” holds items that are slightly healthier, such as low fat versions of sodas and snacks. The last category is “good for you”, where only the healthier items are allowed such as oatmeal. She also made sure that corporate spending was moved further away from the “fun” category and into the “good” category, the aim being that even the “fun” category would improve its healthiness.

Nooyi’s parents were not happy with her choice to move to the US and pursuing a career in business as they had wanted her to settle down in India, to marry and have children. Today, she does have two daughters, but she has never regretted the choices she made, as she knew from a young age that the US was where she wanted to settle. She wanted a proper career for herself and no one can deny she has reached those goals – few women can boast of a larger success in the competitive, American business market!

Beyonce Knowles

Beyonce Giselle Knowles, more commonly known as Beyonce, was born in 1981 in Houston, Texas. Her parents had regular jobs and there was nothing fancy about her upbringing, whatsoever. Beyonce started taking dance classes when she was still in elementary school, and it was her dance instructor who first discovered her incredible talent for song. When she was 7, she won a talent show at her school, overcoming several, much older students, singing “Imagine” by John Lennon. This helped spur her interest in performance through dance and song, and in 1990, she enrolled in Parker Elementary School. The school is a music magnet school, where she was able to further develop her skills. She went on to attend the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, as well as Alief Elsik High School, both focusing heavily on the development of students’ talents.

At only 8 years old, Beyonce auditioned for an all-girl entertainment group alongside her friend from childhood, Kelly Rowland. This is where they met LaTavia Robertson, which was the start of Beyonce’s road to the music industry. The 3 girls were joined with another 3 girls under the name Girl’s Tyme. This group started out by doing gigs mostly in Houston, then went on to play on Star Search after attracting the attention of an R&B producer. Her father left his current job in 1994 to allow him to manage the group full time, and one of his first moves was to reduce the number of members to four. The girls continued performing as opening acts for more established groups and auditioned for several record labels. Their first contract proved short lived, and they were dumped before having a chance to make anything happen. They were re-signed by a different company in October 1995, which set them on the path towards their very first album and larger contracts.

The girl group changed its name in 1996, becoming Destiny’s Child, and Beyonce enjoyed great success as part of this group in the late 90s and early 00s. By the early 00s Beyonce was also starting to get work as an actor, and appeared in the Box Office hit Austin Powers in Goldmember. This was also the time when Beyonce was starting to find her feet as a solo artist. Her first solo album was released in 2003, after the 2 other members of Destiny’s Child had released their own solo projects, without any inspiring success.

As the years went by, Beyonce managed to solidify her role as a solo artist and her success grew hugely alongside her popularity. She married rapper Jay Z in 2008, and they’ve established themselves as one of the most successful and powerful couples in the music business. They have both been active in politics and activism, and are friends with Barack and Michelle Obama. One of her later causes has been feminism, and she has contributed in different ways to the empowerment of women both in and outside the US. Both Beyonce and Jay Z have been involved in and very outspoken against, cases involving police violence and the unfair treatment of African Americans. One such example is their support of the family of deceased, Freddy Gray. Another major issue for her has been that of gun control, which needless to say, is a very touchy subject in the US and has earned her a reputation as unpatriotic in the eyes of some of the more conservative gun enthusiasts.

Beyonce’s latest single was released in February of 2016, and an album should be following later this year.

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