The 20 Genius Hustlers Who Owned History…WITHOUT An Education! You Won’t Expect #19

Today, education requirements can seem like they’re getting out of control. These guys just went and did it. They made immense fortunes. They made histories. Get in on their hands-on hustle!


1. Ed ‘Doc’ Ricketts

Sure, he was known as ‘Doc’, but he actually dropped out of college to go ‘hands on’ with the wildlife that he loved. He came up with the term ecosystem and habitat, and is a revered figure today.


2. Orville and Wilbur Wright

The Wright brothers were the first to create a flyable plane. They didn’t finish high school.


3. Jane Goodall

She’s well known today for her work with chimps, but she didn’t actually finish college. Instead, she went right to the source and became friends with them. She’s a pioneer in the field, and we wouldn’t know too much about their civilization and society as we do today without her dedication.

4. David Bowie

He’s one of the true legends of the 20th century, and continues to fascinate the world. He’s a legend who skips across genres and mediums. But he never received formal musical training. Yeah. Bowie forever.


5. Steve Irwin

He was respected and famed for his unique and enthusiastic relationships with all manner of animals and the natural world. But, he never received no formal education. He was always a ‘hands on’ learner, ‘coming to grips’ with crocs on his parent’s crocodile farm in Queensland. He showed such skill that he was wrestling and playing with his favorite critters at the age of nine. RIP.


6. Steve Jobs

He is undeniably one of the absolute game-changers of recent history. What would the world be like without Apple? It’s almost impossible to imagine. But the mastermind did not spend his life getting good marks. The hyper-determined Jobs dropped out of college after a semester. And they say drop-outs do nothing in this life! He didn’t even study what you would expect: he took calligraphy, Shakespeare, and Modern Dance. What a guy.

7. Ben Franklin

One of the key founding fathers of the American nation, Ben Franklin dropped out of school at 10 years of age! He would go on to set up scores of libraries, schools and universities. He is also famed for the breakthroughs he made in science. His reputation is massive, partly because he aided in drafting the Declaration of Independence. The American Dream, indeed.


8. Jerrie Mock

Sure, Amelia Earhart springs to mind as the pioneering female aviator in history, but housewife Jerrie Mock did what Earhart could never do: she was the first woman to fly around the globe, solo. And she only had 750 flight hours under her belt! She was a college drop out, but that didn’t stop her determination to make history and change perceptions of women worldwide.


9. Sequoyah

Sequoyah was a Cherokee Indian who worked as a silversmith. But in 1921, this brilliant man decided to do what no one had ever tried before: he devised an entire independent writing system in Cherokee Indian. Within five short years, his brilliant system had made his ‘uncivilised’ people’s  literary rates better than the settler whites. Absolute inspiration.

10. Mary Anning

The movies will make you think that you have to be a big-time academic to change the world of archaeology. Mary Anning would have something to say about that. It started off as a hobby, but soon she was stunning the world with her discoveries. She was the first to uncover many dinosaur fossils, including the pterodactyl among many others. Show ’em!


11. Antoni van Leeuwenhoek

This fabric maker made nearly every biological breakthrough possible. Teaching himself by trial and error, he invented the microscope and the means to build lenses. With his breakthroughs, he discovered bacteria, protozoa, animal sperm cells, and red blood cells. Trust yourself.


12. Gregor Mendel

He wasn’t even a scientist, but he is credited as the father of genetics! He was a monk who spent vast amounts of time with his beloved plants. He started to think about the inheritance of traits between generations of species. Imagine where we’d be without his work!

13. Frederick Douglass

Awfully, he was born into slavery. During this terrible time, Douglass would teach himself and others to read and write, even though the threat of extreme punishment was constantly present. He would eventually earn his freedom and go on to become a force for freedom due to his ceaseless path as a social reformer, orator, statesman, and a best-selling author.


14. Jimi Hendrix

Who doesn’t know who Jimi Hendrix is? He was an absolute magician with a guitar. He could do things with a guitar that no one else could, and possibly never will. Yes, he had a troubled personal life, but that doesn’t take away from his incredible ability to make life-changing music. The mad thing? He taught himself to play guitar, and couldn’t even read music. He’s provided endless inspiration for generations of musicians. He was rock and roll, to the very core.


15. Henry Ford

Admittedly, he didn’t exactly come from humble beginnings, but he was not schooled. He was raised to run his father’s farm. Instead, he’d implement the assembly line, and changing the face of the American Dream landscape forever. Where would we be now without the Ford Motor Company? An American Legend.

16, John McConnell Black

Until he was 48, Black was just another reporter in Scotland. But then his dream bloomed as he traveled to Australia and decided to dedicate himself to botany. He would discover and distinguish nearly 2500 new plant species. He remains a cornerstone in the evolution of botanical studies. He thought outside of the box.


17. John Glenn

During the fraught years of the Space Race, John Glenn was the man who America rested her hopes upon in order to beat the Soviets to space. He was a celebrated war veteran, but he had not received college education. His intellect, dedication and discipline took him to the top. A hero.


18. Raymond Chandler

A legend of the noir genre of mystery novels, but he only decided upon writing at the age of 44. Before this he did a whole array of jobs, eventually working his way up to an oil executive. Unfortunately (or fortunately), he was incredibly dissatisfied with this work and turned to incredible drinking bouts. He got fired, and the legend of Chandler began. If you haven’t yet, watch or read The Maltese Falcon. You should.

19. John D. Rockefeller

The richest American in history was born to a con artist and bigamist. His personal fortune exceeded $1 billion USD. That’s equivalent to 336 billion in today’s dollars. He put huge swathes of his riches into charity works. He’s undoubtedly one of the most powerful men that has ever lived, but he started work at 16 years of age.

20. Quentin Tarantino

You surely know who Tarantino is, right?! He’s changed the cinematic landscape of the 20th Century and earned 2 Oscars. He’s controversial and courageous, and hugely talented. But he didn’t learn from the books. He was just obsessed with films and watched as many as he could working at the counter of a video store. The world watches your every move now, QT!