Visionaries that changed the world


What did JF Kenndy, Sam Walton, William Boeing, JK Rowling, and Steve Jobs have in common? They had a vision. They were visionaries who changed the world. Exactly how visionaries like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk or JK Rowling come about, is something of a mystery. Social scientists say that the talent of a visionary is neither inborn nor learned, but rather a combination of the two. And while intelligence is key,  creativity and personality matter, too. Here are a few stories on how some people helped shape the world we live in today.


J F Kennedy


In May 25, 1961, President JF. Kennedy announced before a special joint session of Congress the dramatic and ever-ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the Moon and back, before the end of the decade. Kennedy was under great pressure to have the United States beat the Soviet Union in the space race. He didn’t know how he was going to achieve it but NASA’s overall success was guided by Kennedy’s speech. His goal was achieved on July 20, 1969, when commander Neil Armstrong stepped off the Lunar Module’s ladder and onto the Moon’s surface. Kennedy dared big, dreamed big and then NASA built big.    Your goals can never be too audacious in life. Below is an interesting part of his most famous speech.


“We meet in an hour of change and challenge, in a decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and ignorance. The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds. “We shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out–then we must be bold.”   But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”




Sam Walton – The man who changed the face of retail business


Walmart is the brainchild and the result of the sweat and energy of the American businessman Sam Walton. Born in Kingfisher, Oklahoma on the 29th of March, 1918, Sam Walton spent his early years in retail management before opening the first-ever Walmart store in 1962 at the age of 44.


His first Walmart was opened in Arkansas in 1962 and it grew so fast that by 1976 when it became a publicly-traded company, it had a net worth of $176 million. This grew to $46 billion in the 1990s and Walmart became the largest retail store in the USA. Over the next 30 years, the retail chain store grew exponentially till it became the largest company in the world in 2010.  Sam Walton had a vision and was the person that pioneered the move of large discount stores to rural areas and he proved they can be very successful there as well as in large cities.


“Capital isn’t scarce; vision is.”




Boeing and his vision


William Boeing was born in Detroit in 1881 to wealthy German parents. Educated in Switzerland and Yale he moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1903. Having already developed a love of first cars and boats. He envisioned a new challenge, the challenge of flying.


He set out on achieving his dream in 1916 when he started Pacific Aero Products Company with  George Westervelt. They built their first plane that year too – a seaplane known as Boeing Model 1 (B&W Seaplane). He got his big break in 1917 when the United States officially entered the First World War and placed an order for 50 of their flagship seaplanes. The ride was rough after the breakup but Boeing kept at it even breaking out to make furniture to keep the company afloat until the military came back to order more warplanes during the Second World War. This is the story of a man who had a clear vision that he kept on with even in the face of problems from the government. His brainchild The Boeing Company is now the biggest airplane manufacturer in the world.


“I looked ahead to the time… when passengers would become of primary importance.”




JK Rowling and a powerful imagination


JK Rowling always wanted to be an author ever since she can remember: She wrote her first story – called Rabbit – age six and wrote her first novel at age 11.  She applied to study at Oxford, but was rejected, and instead at her parent’s request, studied French at the University of Exeter. Life didn’t start up easy for her. After her marriage broke down, Rowling succumbed to depression. She was left with a baby to bring up on her own. Rowling had to survive on social benefits, struggling many times to get food in the house. It was then she became clinically depressed. She felt the inability to be happy or lighthearted again.


Despite all these, she kept on with her writing and at the end of 17 years of writing, she could finally put the pen down. She completed the Harry Potter Series.  It’s hard to believe that 12 publishing companies rejected the Sorcerer’s Story until finally, Bloomsbury picked it up for an advance of just £1,500.  So far the Harry Potter Series has sold over 400 million copies in 55 different languages. The conclusion of the series became one of the fast-selling books of all time selling 7000 books a minute.   J.K. Rowling is one of only five self-made female billionaires and the first billion-dollar author.


“I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. “




Steve Jobs – A tech genius


Lacking proper direction as to what career path to follow, he dropped out of college after six months and spent the next 18 months of his life dropping in on creative classes at the school. Jobs later recounted how one course in calligraphy developed his love of typography.


Steve Jobs’ early career began In 1976 when Jobs was just 21, he and his friend Steve Wozniak started the popular Apple Computer in the Jobs’ family garage. They funded their entrepreneurial venture by Jobs selling his Volkswagen bus and Wozniak selling his beloved scientific calculator, respectively. Jobs and Wozniak are credited with revolutionizing the computer industry with Apple by democratizing technology and making machines cheaper, smaller, intuitive and accessible to everyday consumers all over the world.


Before his death, Steve Jobs became well known to be the richest American entrepreneur and business magnate. He was the chairman, chief executive officer (CEO), and a co-founder of Apple Inc., chairman and majority shareholder of Pixar.   Jobs and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak are widely recognized as pioneers of the microcomputer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s.  His vision of a “computer for the rest of us” sparked the PC revolution and made Apple an icon of American business.


“I want to put a ding in the universe.”