The Source of Oracle’s Wisdom: How Ellison Achieved Success

“There's a wonderful saying that's dead wrong,” says Ellison. “‘Why did you climb the mountain?' ‘I climbed the mountain because it was there.’ That's utter nonsense…You climbed the mountain because you were there, and you were curious if you could do it. You wondered what it would be like.”

Ellison wondered what it would be like to run a billion dollar company and he didn’t let anything stand in his way from finding out. From being the son who nobody wanted, to having more money than even he knows what do with (“I thoroughly recommend it,” he laughs), Ellison has created a legacy for himself as a pioneer and innovator, as well as a colourful character in an otherwise often dull industry. How did he do it?

Balance: “What is play? What is work? Is work something you get paid for and play something you don’t?” questions Ellison. “I put a lot of work into my job, where I get paid. They're all in pursuit of the same thing: self-discovery, the discovery of my own limits.” From flying his private jet and racing his yacht on the high seas to building a billion dollar company, Ellison has made sure he devotes himself to a balanced life of work and play.

Ambition: “We will still be enormously profitable and by far the most profitable enterprise software company,” says Ellison. With unashamed confidence, Ellison never misses an opportunity to proclaim his goals and his intention to meet said goals however possible. Neither friend nor foe was going to stand in Ellison’s way of achieving his dream.

Courage: When IBM believed their product could never sell, Ellison made it sell. Whether it was his parents, his childhood teachers or corporate giants, Ellison was never afraid to question conventional wisdom and stand up for his own believes. “All examples are good,” says Ellison. “Bad examples are useful; good examples are useful. It taught me to question experts, to question authority figures. Don't assume they're right just because they're in authority, or just because they're experts.”

Determination: “We're constantly testing ourselves,” says Ellison. “We're trying to understand our own level of competency; our ability to control our own world; our ability to put ourselves at risk, and then save our own lives. There's always an element of risk.” Whether it was starting a company in which few saw the potential for much commercial success or sailing a yacht directly into a typhoon, Ellison used his fear to his advantage, testing his limits and pushing himself to break down the obstacles in his way.

Grit: “If you live your life a different way, and you answer questions differently, that makes them feel very uncomfortable,” says Ellison. He has been called names, he has been called crazy, and he has been written off. But, much like his hero, Napoleon, Ellison stayed true to his instincts, ignored the naysayers and continues to silence his critics with his successes.

“Everyone who works hard and a little cleverly has the opportunity to make almost anything possible,” says Ellison. Despite running the company for close to three decades now, Ellison has no interest in giving it all up just yet. “Five years from now I don't know how I'll think,” he says. “I think after a certain amount I'm going to give almost everything I have to charity. Because what else can you do with it? You can't spend it, even if you try. I've been trying,” he laughs.

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