Your Formative Years Are Important

Dropbox founder Drew Houston on his formative years:

Initially, it was about playing games, and when I was about 11, I was pretty sure I was going to make computer games for a living. Part of my interest was also just discovering what makes these games tick. I would get the source code of a game and then modify it to work how I wanted.

That’s how I got my first job, actually. I was a beta tester for this game, and I was frustrated because the developers weren’t moving fast enough. So I started poking around under the hood, and I found all these security problems.

I emailed the developers, saying, “Hey, guys, you’ve got all these problems and here’s how you should fix them.” And they wrote back, “Great, do you want to work for us?” They said I could work remotely, too, so I said, “Is it O.K. if my dad fills out the paperwork, because I’m 14?” They said, “We couldn’t care less.”

Curiosity, drive, and not waiting for permission to do something: you’ll find these qualities in many successful people.