1972 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"In business, you’ve got to know your own strengths and weaknesses, and then concentrate on what you do best."
Ross Perot was born in 1930 in Texarkana, Texas. Although the family lived in modest circumstances, Perot has often stated that he was born rich because of his parents. Beginning at the age of seven, Perot worked at various jobs throughout his boyhood, including breaking horses; selling Christmas cards, magazines, and garden seeds; buying and selling bridles, saddles, horses, and calves; delivering newspapers; and collecting for classified ads.
He attended the United States Naval Academy from 1949 to 1953. While there, he served as class president. He spent the next four years on a destroyer and an aircraft carrier. Upon his honorable discharge in 1957, Perot went to work for IBM's data processing division as a salesman. In 1962, when he was 32, his wife, Margot, who worked as a teacher, gave him $1,000 out of her savings to help start his one-man data processing company. Electronic Data Systems (EDS) designed, installed, and operated computer systems for large companies. Today, EDS is a multibillion dollar corporation employing more than 70,000 people.
In 1969, the U. S. government asked Perot to work on improving the treatment of our POWs in Vietnam. He worked on this project until the prisoners were released in 1972. For his efforts, Perot received the Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the highest civilian award presented by the Department of Defense.
When two EDS employees were taken hostage by the Iranian government in 1979, Perot directed a successful rescue mission. This story was later told in Ken Follett's bestseller, On the Wings of Eagles.
In 1984, Perot sold EDS to General Motors for $2.5 billion. In 1988, he started Perot Systems Corporation, a computer service company. In 1994, he established a watchdog group called United We Stand America to monitor the actions of the federal government and the two major political parties. In 1995, he formed a third political party, the Reform Party, to challenge the Democratic and Republican parties in the 1996 presidential election.
Perot is the author of seven books, including Ross Perot, My Life and the Principles for Success, published in 1996. He often tells young people, "Concentrate on what you do best and success will come to you."