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If you like Craig McCaw's story, you might also like:
Timothy Berners-Lee,
Jeff Bezos,
Susan Butcher,
Steve Case,
Michael Dell,
Lawrence Ellison,
Bill Gates,
Jeong Kim,
Pierre Omidyar,
Larry Page,
George Rathmann,
Carlos Slim
and Ted Turner

Craig McCaw's recommended reading: Oliver Twist

Craig McCaw also appears in the videos:
Education in the 21st Century

Making a Better World: What is Your Responsibility to the Community?

Entrepreneurs and the Information Age

Teachers can find prepared lesson plans featuring Craig McCaw in the Achievement Curriculum section:
The Information Age

Related Links:
Wireless Wizard
12 Lessons

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Craig McCaw
Craig McCaw
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Craig McCaw Interview

Pioneer of Telecommunications

May 22, 1997
Baltimore, Maryland

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  Craig McCaw

In school, was there a teacher who influenced you?

Craig McCaw: Where I went to school, there was a very personal relationship with the professors. There were a number who challenged me very personally. Ultimately, what really drives you is the competitive relationship to someone pushing you, and you respond.

I had a particular English teacher who was wont to challenge me in the learning of Macbeth. And as a result of that, I think I memorized more passages of Macbeth than anyone would ever want to know. But to this day, those beat heavily in my mind as I think about processes and about Macbeth's whole sort of philosophical relationship to opportunity and the good and evil that he failed to comprehend, and as it were control his most base instincts. And that ultimately destroyed him. And I must say that whole process with that professor was very powerful to me.

[ Key to Success ] Preparation

Was there a book that moved you as a child?

Craig McCaw: Another one would be Oliver Twist. There, but for fate, go I. Oliver Twist lived in the boarding house for orphaned kids and was treated very badly, and yet he turned out to be the child of a very wealthy person. Solely because of the context in which he lived, he was a treated extraordinarily badly. I remember that, and the recognition that there really is very little difference between people.

I think Dickens' whole approach to that question, the whole moral question of whether we are or are not different because of our upbringing and our social status, I think has put me in a stead to where I think I'm more comfortable with an egalitarian world, such as we're seeing evolve from the Internet where everyone really is nameless, faceless, you don't know where they are, you don't know what they mean. And in a sense, you can't put them in a box, because you don't know what box they would belong in. So, I think Dickens to me had a very sad message about human behavior, but also a very optimistic one. That if you recognize that, if we get beyond that, that there's a wonderful life beyond for all.

[ Key to Success ] Vision

How old were you when you read that?

Craig McCaw: I think I read Oliver Twist when I was 14.

Did you have a philosophical bent already?

Craig McCaw: I grew up in Seattle, and I have to say the West, being younger in its settlement, was less stratified socially. I think we grew up in a relatively more open and -- if you use the term egalitarian -- society. It wasn't really egalitarian, but much more so than if you grew up in the oldest city in the East. So naturally you see, in people from the West, a little more open thinking. I think that happens solely because the communities have had less time to gel, and for people to achieve a pecking order. I think that explains how that would happen. But also, I think I had trouble fitting as a dyslexic. I don't think like other people, so I don't fit very well in a clique. As a result of that I have trouble quantifying people as directly as others. I look at their ideas, rather than at them so much as individuals.

Craig McCaw Interview Photo
Craig McCaw Interview Photo

As a child, were your parents supportive and encouraging people?

Craig McCaw: My parents believed that you are individually accountable for your actions, and did a wonderful job of challenging us, giving us freedom. I have three brothers, and I think all of us benefited from an extraordinarily open relationship. That is to say that we had the right to do nearly anything we wanted to do, and to be accountable for the actions and, as it were, decide for ourselves what the proper balance between doing good and evil was, based upon the consequences. I think that's very appropriate for governing human beings in general. The fewer rules you put on people, the better they will behave ultimately. The more they sense that their fate is in their own hands and their own choice, the more they will respond in the way you want them to do.

So you became aware of autonomy at a pretty early age.

Craig McCaw: Autonomy is really a central part of my life. I believe that it drives the kind of behavior in individuals that we want. And it really made a major impact on my life and how I respond to others. And my belief is that if you pass autonomy as far down in any grouping of people as you can, you will get extraordinary results if you ask for a lot. The greatest burden you can put on someone is trust.

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This page last revised on Mar 28, 2011 09:34 EDT
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