Michael Dell returns to UT for Texas Cowboys Lectureship series

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Michael Dell, UT alumnus and Dell Inc. CEO, speaks to students at the Hogg Auditorium on Tuesday evening. Dell spoke about his life experiences and emphasized the importance of learning from failure.
Photo Credit: Gabriel Lopez | Daily Texan Staff

Michael Dell discussed Dell Inc.’s evolution and advised students not to be afraid of failure, even in competitive environments, in Hogg Auditorium as a part of the Texas Cowboys Lectureship series Tuesday.

Dell, the founder, chairman and CEO of Dell Inc., began working on computers as a UT student before dropping out to pursue his business. According to Forbes, his net worth is now over $22 billion.

Texas Cowboys foreman Louis Andres, a management information systems senior, said the group was drawn to Dell because of his involvement with UT and his experience in the fields of business and technology.

“We like him a lot because he’s entrepreneurially driven, and I think he’s going to speak not only as a businessman, but also as a former student,” Andres said. “The idea is to inspire anyone there, not to make them drop out, but to make them feel like they can accomplish anything and fulfill whatever dreams they have.”

The interview was moderated by Clint Tuttle, a McCombs School of Business lecturer. They discussed the evolution of Dell’s company, which began with a business he ran out of his dorm room, Dobie 2713, upgrading and selling computers. Dell said he entered college as a pre-med biology student, and he initially faced resistance from his parents when he switched career paths.

Dell also touched on the business model of his company, discussing the company’s main sources of revenue, the new acquisition of EMC and the recent privatization of Dell Inc.

Tuttle asked Dell if he had any advice for budding entrepreneurs at UT, especially given the high level of anxiety about making mistakes that accompanies the increasing caliber of achievement on campus. Dell said he has learned more during times of failure than he has during successful periods.

“Waiting to have a perfect plan or being afraid of failure is not a good recipe for success,” Dell said. “[Opportunity] favors the bold and those who have a new, fresh perspective, which tend to be more in dorm rooms than in boardrooms.”

Psychology junior Alina Schmitz-Hübsch said the lecture showed her that a good idea, passion and an ability to execute are more important to success than a degree in business.

“His life is just a fascinating story, and it’s inspiring to hear him talk about it,” Schmitz-Hübsch said. “He was Entrepreneur of the Year at age 24, which is incredible. I’m 23, so it’s time for me to get going.”