In a previous post I mentioned the podcast How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz. Out of the episodes I have listened to from How I Built This, my favorite episode was a recent one with Sal Khan. Sal Khan is founder of Khan Academy, which is one of the most incredible education systems ever devised.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Khan Academy, it is a free-to-use website that you can use to learn almost anything. Subject matter available range from math to economics to physics, etc. Also, similar to Wikipedia, Khan Academy only runs on donations, which means that it is free for anyone around the world to use. I have personally used it for high school subjects, as well as college subjects. One of the newest things that Khan Academy has started to offer is free SAT tutoring in collaboration with The College Board.
In the How I Built This episode, Khan goes into detail about how he started Khan Academy. Basically, he left a very successful job at a hedge fund (that would have set him up for life financially) to go off and start a non-profit that would become Khan Academy. Originally, he was just creating videos to help his cousins with their homework; however, once he started posting videos on YouTube, they began to get so many views that he thought he needed a new platform. With the help of people such as Bill Gates, this platform eventually turned into Khan Academy.
I think Khan’s story is so inspiring because he could have made so much money if Khan Academy was not a non-profit. However, he chose to structure the company as a non-profit, as he believed this was the only way he could stay true to his initial goal of providing a free education for anyone, anywhere. Even though this meant that there were times where he went through some financial struggles (and passed up on the opportunity to make a fortune), he believes he has been successful. Khan says something in the podcast episode to the effect of: while most people get rich and then start trying to find ways to help people, I was fortunate enough to already impact people without needing to have a fortune. It is this attitude and perspective that I really admire from Khan, and I truly enjoyed listening to this episode!