Henry Ross Perot: Doing Business, the Cowboy Way

Posted on February 29, 2012

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Henry Ross Perot is best known for being a United States presidential candidate in two election periods: 1992 and 1996. Although he had lost both times, Perot still had something to hold on to: his business.

Born in Texarkana, Texas, in 1930, this famous Texan can best be described as an all-American cowboy. His father worked as a cotton broker, so their family was able to live a privileged life. As a young boy, he attended a private school and became friends with sons of prominent families. He was the perfect model of a patriotic young man, having been an Eagle Scout during his teens and class president and battalion commander at the U.S. Naval Academy.

However, after four years of life in the U.S. Navy, Perot decided to leave the service and enter the world of commerce as a salesman. He became International Business Machine’s top employee, but his supervisors chose to ignore his suggestions. Eager to work independently, Perot left IBM to establish his own company, Electronic Data Systems.

Perot’s startup idea was to give large corporations data-processing services, enabling them to take advantage of the rapidly growing computer technology. But it wasn’t that easy. The entrepreneur got rejected almost 80 times before landing his first contract from Medicare and Medicaid. This propelled Perot’s career as an entrepreneur.

Because of his quick rise to success, Fortune magazine named Perot as the “fastest, richest Texan” in one of their cover stories during 1968.  Aside from running EDS, he also became an angel investor; in fact, Perot gave Steve Jobs $20 million when he was just about to start NeXt. In 1988, he established his umbrella company, Perot Systems Corporation, Inc.

Today, Perot is considered one of the greatest entrepreneurs in history. Although he is now more active as a statesman, his legacy as a businessman still lives on.

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Posted in: Entrepreneurs