I happen to be in Poland and just heard of Andy Grove’s passing away. If you go south from here, cross Slovakia, you will reach Hungary. That’s where Andy Grove grew up in a jewish family. Then came the Nazi occupation in the 1940s when jews were exterminated. Andy had to flee the country to Austria in very difficult circumstances. Then he got unto a boat and sailed for unknown land of America. He reached New York with $20 in his pocket and no idea what he was going to do. As he enrolled at City University of NY, he took up physics. He taught himself english and topped the class soon. A brilliant student, he continued his journey to the west coast to UC, Berkeley where he got a Ph.D. in chemistry/chemical engineering.
Andy started at Fairchild, but left to join Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore to start a new company called Intel. He basically built the company from scratch. From memory chips, Intel took a leap into microprocessors, considered a huge risk in those days. But Andy was at the helm, the CEO of a hugely successful company Intel, that almost defined the Silicon valley of today. Many would agree that Andy created the Silicon valley. He was Time’s man of the year in 1996. His straightforwardness and no-nonsense style of management is legendary. His famous book, “Only the Paranoid Survives” made big waves when it came out. You have to run scared to win in your business. Intel defined the computing era of 1980s and 1990s.
Andy taught many leaders of the valley as a mentor – Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs, John Doerr, Mark Zuckerberg, etc. etc. During my days at Oracle, I had the opportunity to listen to Andy a couple of times. He lead by example and was completely full of substance. People who worked for him, adored him. With all that success, he had the humility of very egoless person. He contributed significantly to many charities through his foundation. Oh, there is so much we can learn from Andy Grove.
As we mourn his death, let us remember his great leadership qualities combined with utter humility.