When I was growing up, I was interested in science and math and computers. I loved finding out how things worked.
At fifteen, I bought myself a computer and took it apart. Those were the days when you could take the top off and, with the help of books, figure out what each of the parts did. (Today, if you unplugged a computer and took off the top, you'd see a big black chip in there, and you'd have no idea what it does!) Playing with that computer taught me that you learn almost everything by doing.
My early curiosity about computers helped lead me to the job I have today, which I love. So whenever I see kids becoming passionate about an interest or pursuit, I try to encourage them. Maybe your curiosity will lead you to a job you love, too.
It's good to be curious. I also think it's good to look for opportunities and to try new ways of doing things.
At one of my first jobs, I learned this lesson through experience. I was sixteen, and I got a job with the Houston Post, selling newspaper subscriptions over the telephone. My co-workers and I would call people and say, "Hey, would you like to buy the Houston Post?"
During my first few weeks, I figured out that most people who wanted to buy the newspaper were either moving or getting married. So I thought, "Well, how can I get the names of all these people who are moving or getting married?"
I did some research and found out that a lot of that information is legally available to anyone. Once I learned how to get those names and addresses, I sent out offers to buy the newspaper. My experiment was a success! Within my first month on the job, I became the top salesperson.
It was simply a matter of finding an opportunity and trying a new way of doing something.
Kids have fresh approaches to things, and they often come up with great new ideas. When you pursue your interests and fellow your dreams, a lot can happen. You can do big things, and you shouldn't be discouraged by people who tell you otherwise.
Michael Dell is the chief executive officer of Dell Computer, which he founded when he was nineteen.