5 Surprising Mentors of Legendary CEOs

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It’s no secret that the greatest minds have been shaped by maestros; people who served, not just as mentors, but more like godfathers, and helped them to become the legends that they are.

While these visionaries are rarely seen with their teachers, each credits their beginnings and eventual success to them. In many ways, these entrepreneurs have incorporated an aspect of their studies into their now exemplary lives.

Below is a list of five of such famous persons, and the people who helped start them on their journey to unimaginable success.

Bill Gates, Microsoft


It doesn’t get much better than this duo. Having one of the most influential people in the world as a mentor clearly has obvious benefits. The “richest man in the world” title has been awarded, at various times, to these two men. Gates was introduced to Buffett by his mother and didn’t think they would have anything to talk about. Much to Gates’s surprise, the two became fast friends, and Buffett is the one who lit the fire of philanthropy in his heart.

Despite his enormous wealth, Buffett lives frugally and has pledged 99 percent of his wealth to philanthropy, most of it channeled through the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Buffett was born in 1930 and is considered the 20th century’s most successful investor. His senior yearbook picture reads, “likes math; a future stockbroker.”

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo


Mayer was Google’s first female engineer, which is where she met Lawrence Page. She credits him, alongside Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt, as the people who allowed her to grow in the world of technology.

Lawrence Page is a computer scientist as well as being one of the founders of Google and he later succeeded Schmidt as the CEO. He is the inventor of PageRank, Google Search’s ranking algorithm.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook


Mark Zuckerberg is probably the most successful entrepreneur of this decade. His mentor, Don Graham, is 39 years older than Zuckerberg and is also involved in media–print media to be exact. He is the CEO of the Washington Post, and Zuckerberg has even spent days following Graham in an attempt to learn “how to be a CEO.”

Graham’s grandfather bought the Washington post and his father was a publisher, later becoming president of the paper. After his father’s death, Graham’s mother ran the paper for more than two decades, with Don succeeding his mother as publisher. He became CEO and then chairman in 1991 and 1993, respectively.

Steve Jobs, Apple


Jobs, “the inspiration of entrepreneurs,” was mentored by the pioneer of the semiconductor industry. Strangely, Andy Grove also contracted prostate cancer like Jobs, though he survived it. Jobs often went to him for moral support during his own illness.

Grove is credited with having transformed Intel from a memory chip manufacturer into the world’s dominant producer of microprocessors. Grove lives modestly and, according to people who know him, he “has no airs.”

Bill Hewlett and David Packard, HP


Frederick Terman was Bill and David’s professor in college. He encouraged his students to be entrepreneurial by starting their own businesses and invested in many of them. They sought guidance from him and he provided the two with a list of their first potential customers.

He spearheaded the creation of Stanford Industrial Park, which enabled high tech firms to lease part of Stanford University’s land. This park eventually became a hot bed of innovation, and became known as Silicon Valley.

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