Kirsty Dunphey

Although a life-long learner, I don’t have a university degree. For entrepreneurs, it is a distinction that may not have much relevance.

Do uni dropouts rule the world?

Kirsty Dunphey

As I’ve written about a number of times in both of my books, I’m a university dropout. I consider myself a life-long learner, and yet at age 28, despite attending uni on and off since I was 17, I’m still yet to get that all important piece of paper. 

As an entrepreneur, I don’t desperately need a degree to enhance my career prospects, however I find it strangely fascinating that a small but persistent part of me still wants a degree. I don’t know whether it’s to fulfil some distant childhood ambition or if I just want to wear the long black gown and fancy hat!

When I look through the list of my business role models however, I’m comforted to see so many who are also in the dropout category: Bill Gates and Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founders), Ray Kroc (the man who took McDonald’s to the world), Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, Richard Branson, Larry Eillison (Oracle founder), Michael Dell, David Geffen (Dreamworks co-founder), Ted Turner (media giant), Blake Ross (Firefox co-creator) and Sean Parker (Napster co-founder).

Not a lot of women on that list – but for the time being I’m happy to have my name in the same category – so long as I stick to my goal of being a life-long learner.

Steve Jobs (Apple and Pixar co-founder) is a name glaringly missing from the above list. Having just finished reading iCon – a book all about Steve – I found his dropout story one of the most fascinating I’ve read. He dropped out after his first semester, managed to get a refund on the fees his parents had paid and still somehow managed to keep living on campus – only now he was attending the classes he was actually interested in (and not paying!).

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 Kirsty Dunphey, the youngest ever winner of the Australian Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year award, Kirsty started her first business at 15, her own real estate agency at 21, was a self-made millionaire at 23 and a self-made multi-millionaire at 25. For more information on Kirsty or either of her books – Advance to Go, Collect $1 Million and Retired at 27, If I can do it anyone can head to:



Lorna Marty writes: I agree (and I have a BA and an MA!!) … now trying my own business I want to learn a new way of thinking … what business courses do you recommend – or a mentor? So many courses out there! Any advice would be gratefully received.

Amanda writes: What a truly inspirational speaker Steve Jobs is and he is absolutely right and so are you. You don’t need a degree to reach your true potential you just need drive, determination and an entrepreneurial spirit. I have just started my own business at the ripe old age of 38 and it has taken me this long to discover this fundamental truth. I hope this small piece will encourage all those Gen-Ys out there to discover it sooner and become all they can be.



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