The First Million: What is the Real Story?
Ken Langone, the co-founder of Home Depot, is worth about $5 billion.
Ken Langone has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to medical research. If you drive around New York City, you’ll see many hospitals named after Ken Langone Medical. I am grateful to him because these hospitals have successfully treated many friends and family members. Well, Ken Langone told me a story once that he didn’t think was a story. Or, at the very least, he thought he was telling me a money story — but he ended up telling me something very different. In the late 1960s, a young man named Ross Perot was building a company that focused on selling computers — a very young company in a very young industry.
Ross Perot wanted to “go public.” Meaning, he would sell part of his company to the public and be listed on the stock exchange. Back then, Ken Langone wanted to get the deal to take Ross Perot’s company public. Ross Perot would become a billionaire as a result. And Ken would make his first million or so as his feet in the process. More importantly, his network of people he could count on for his future successes now included billionaires. (Rule #1: If you help someone else make a billion, you will definitely make millions.) But Ken’s first million didn’t come easily. Ken Langone was not from one of the big banks like Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley. He didn’t have the pedigree. He was from a small bank, from a small town, and didn’t have a fancy degree.