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Before I Was CEO by Peter Vanham

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Introduction

CEOs of large multinational companies can seem like rock stars. They earn millions of dollars, make decisions that affect hundreds of thousands of people, and sit in oak-paneled, marble-decorated offices. It seems like they were always different from us. They were the ones who went to Harvard, Wharton, and Stanford; the ones who got the best jobs; and the ones whose career went straight up ever since. Or if they were entrepreneurs, they founded their companies at 21, dropped out of Stanford University, and became billionaires by age 30. At least, that's the impression you'll get from reading the profiles of some of the most successful entrepreneurs and business men and women in the world.

If the classic image we have of a CEO is true, then most of us can stop dreaming about ever becoming truly impactful in business. Only about 1 percent of students went to an Ivy League school (and less than 2,000 students get accepted at Harvard College each year). And if you did come from such a top school, there's still only a fractional chance you were one of the two archetypes described above: the valedictorian who got hired by McKinsey, or the dropout who funded a billionaire startup. From then on, it's too late to turn the tables. As a matter of fact, even if you currently work for Goldman Sachs, Blackstone, or Google, most likely there's someone else who you may think is on a faster track to success than you are.

Yet most of us have big dreams and ambitions: we want to get ...

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