12.12.22 Today’s Inspiration from Reed Hastings, Co-founder, Chairman and Co-CEO of Netflix
Have you ever considered the Co-founder, Chairman and Co-CEO of $30B Netflix to be inspirational? Besides being a billionaire American businessman, Reed Hastings also “sits on a number of Boards and (sic) non-profit organizations.” (per Wikipedia). What’s more, as a former member of the California State Board of Education, Hastings has proven himself to be a strong advocate of educational reform, primarily through charter schools.
Growing up in Boston, the 62-year-old once sold vacuum cleaners during a gap year before starting college at Bowdoin, where he majored in Math. Later, despite entering the Marines, Hastings didn’t complete his training and opted instead for the Peace Corps, “out of a combination of service and adventure.” After teaching math in rural Swaziland, for which he credited his entrepreneurial nature, Hastings was quoted as saying: “Once you have hitchhiked across Africa with ten bucks in your pocket, starting a business doesn’t seem too intimidating.”
Fast-forward to earning a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Stanford (after being rejected from his first choice, MIT), working for a few years at Adaptive Technology and then starting a company (Pure Software) which eventually merged with several others in the software space. In 1997, Hastings and a former co-worker founded Netflix, although he shared that: “he had no idea whether others would use the service.” Interestingly, the initial idea was born out of personally owing a huge late fee on a rented Apollo 13 VHS cassette!
Outside of business, Hastings has also been active in public service. A Giving Pledge member since 2012, he has donated millions to a variety of social service causes, especially education. Perhaps most impressively, as evidenced in the article below, Hastings has shown that he is willing to demonstrate the humility and agility to publicly admit a change in thinking, which requires the courage and confidence we hope to instill in every ambitious international student (including you!)