The world’s top entrepreneurs are headline makers known worldwide for their innovation, success and eccentricities.
It’s often assumed that such people, the likes of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, are not like you and me. They’re driven, single-minded in their pursuit of success and sometimes prone to oddities and quirks that are unlike their peers. Musk is a great example – how many other people would put the ownership of a business they recently acquired to a public vote? Very few, but that’s how he operates; he raises the stakes in terms of eccentricity, but it is a facet of his success.
Even away from their day jobs, they often have hobbies and interests that are surprising but that reflect their skills as entrepreneurs. Those hobbies might be entirely normal, but ones that you wouldn’t immediately relate to are some of the biggest faces in the business. Just because they have great wealth and drive in business, doesn’t mean they won’t do the same things you and I might do in our downtime.
Here are some of the surprising hobbies of top entrepreneurs.
Beal is good with numbers. The Dallas businessman accumulated his wealth through banking and real estate investment, his own Beal Bank and even an aerospace company. He’s a well-known philanthropist, as many entrepreneurs are, but he is also an avid poker player.
It makes sense; his earnings outside the game make him one of the most successful poker players in terms of net worth, which is evident at the tables. In the early part of the century, one hand saw him win $11.7m – it even had a book written about it, namely The Professor, The Banker and The Suicide King by Michael Craig. He might play on a different level from the average man, but the pressure is surely the same. “Playing for such high stakes, though, takes a lot of time, energy and focus,” he said. “You’ve got to know exactly what you’re doing. It’s a very consuming process to stay good at that level.”
Beal uses his math skills in his hobby, and Richard Branson does the same, but with a different game. Branson is a strategist and a pioneer, approaching each venture slightly differently. He’s owned Virgin Records and signed controversial artists such as the Sex Pistols. He’s innovated in air travel, space travel and even wines. Each time he identifies an opening and exploits it using his skills, and it doesn’t always work. Remember Virgin Cola? Virgin Cars? He’s not prone to a few losses.
With that in mind, there’s perhaps a little surprise in learning his hobby is chess. In chess, losing pieces is inevitable, but ultimately it’s about the end game, and he recognizes that. “It combines the greatest aspects of many different sports — tactics, planning, bravery and risk-taking — plus you can have a cup of tea and often a stimulating conversation while you play,” he wrote.
Mayer is a tech entrepreneur of similar stature to Zuckerberg and Musk – she joined Google as employee number 20 in 1999, writing code and overseeing a team of engineers. She later spent time as CEO of Yahoo and then started her own company, Sunshine, working in the AI and consumer media industry. Clearly, Mayer likes to build things from the bottom up, overseeing a process that results in a grand finish.
Her hobby goes along the same lines, albeit on a smaller scale. Mayer is a keen baker, making cupcakes during her downtime. As you might expect, it isn’t a simple process; she uses a spreadsheet to record optimal frosting recipes. “My hobbies actually make me better at work,” she said. “They help me come up with new and innovative ways of looking at things.” If her meticulous approach to tech innovation is anything to go by, then it’s certain her friends and family also enjoy her hobby!