Takeaways from the cofounder of Microsoft, owner of the Seahawks and Trailblazers- Paul Allen- Idea Man

My main takeaways is that holy crap! This man has lived a super important life. I can’t believe I have never really heard of him until stumbling upon this gem from Stig and Preston on the Investors Podcast which if you haven’t listened to yet. You totally should. I will link it at the bottom of this post.

First of all, the man is a genius and is incredibly humble. He has been a self-made billionaire for most of his life and still thinks there is so much left to accomplish.

Anyone that has a passion or curiosity towards life, in general, should read this book. I do not know one person that would not benefit from reading this book.

I will just list his main accomplishments below.

  • Cofounded Microsoft with Bill Gates- in August of 2016, he was the 40th richest world in the world with an estimated net worth of $18.6 billion.
  • He owns the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trail Blazers. -He was a player’s owner and really spent the time to get to know his players and everyone on his team loved the way he treated them.

Once his dad passed away he really wanted to invest and save the Seahawks from moving to a different city because they were short on funding. His dad also used to take him to University of Washington football games as a young child so it was a way to honor his dad but became one of his many passions.

  • He founded the Allen Institute for Brain Science.- the type of work he is doing for society and in the name of science is just so amazing and inspiring!
  • Institute for Artificial Intelligence- He does right a lot about the challenges of Artificial Intelligence is does acknowledge we need to understand our own brain first before can truly master AI.

He grew up middle class but did extremely well in school and got into a highly competitive private school where he met Bill Gates.

This taught me the importance of having a really solid network because even though Bill Gates was a lot richer than Paul Allen was as a young child. The meeting during their younger days was from the initial contact of being in the computer science club.

His passion, curiosity and relentless amount of hard work. While everyone else told him to quit computer science, his family I mean basically they were told that business and being a lawyer were much more practical majors and career paths. Computer science being relatively new back when he started and not as respected.

Paul Allen is the ultimate idea man. He is extremely creative and pursues a passion for music also invested in Ticketmaster to acquire 80% of Ticketmaster.

Despite the impressive resume, I do get the feeling that legacy is what is extremely important to him. Being able to be remembered. He created a scholarship fund when he dad died and his dad was the master librarian so he said he was fortunate to be the son of the head of librarians which gave him a passion and the resources to be so knowledgeable about what is going on in the world of computer science. He said that his dad gave him the best advice in the world which is to have a job you love and he certainly lived his life that way. He said in a way, being so interested in computer science most of his early career/ life during those times were very one dimensional. He poured so much of his time and energy into it that he was not able to do everything else he was passionate about such as music and playing the guitar.

His natural curiosity for everything in life could not be understated. The man always challenged conventional thinking and he invested in SETI– Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence when the company was at risk of going down under.

He talks about the point of singularity which is a really interesting topic now that we started to see AI change our ways and the way we do things. It is hard to go anywhere and not see AI start to pop up as main discussion topics.

He loves making a difference in people’s lives. It is funny people always ask him how he thinks money has changed his life but he says that it really doesn’t. It just gives him more influence over the things he loves in life. Like after growing through some close calls where he almost died. He then invests in learning more about how to cure Dementia and other diseases. Because his mother has a severe case of Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

It is interesting to see someone who is so bold and rich but still has the same level of insecurities that we do as you and I. I saw a lot of myself in Paul Allen being a dreamer. His advice is that research and development are important but you need a truly fearless leader such as Bill Gates to be able to execute. That is actually one of the biggest takeaways from this book.

He gives examples of how Bill Gates used to be the biggest risk taker ever and would risk his life speeding everywhere. It was his escape from working 80-100 hours a week without sleep. Bill gates even had to hire the best traffic attorney in the country to help him with the fact that he was getting so many speeding tickets.

I found it interesting how he portrayed Bill as a ruthless negotiator and about how he pushed everyone to their limits mentally and physically. That type of leadership is what made Microsoft so successful because of the fact that Bill would challenge you for hours and days. That type of accountability made the company so successful.

Another consistent topic was that timing is everything. He mentioned that during the timeframe of where he went to school and how the computer programmers were at the time. It was an opportune moment, if he was born 5 years later then he would have missed the boat and 5 years before, everything is so new he wouldn’t have the opportunity to do everything that he did.

He does mention that yes timing and luck is important but he did bust his ass and took bold risks to get to where he is.

Money is not everything, but it does give you a vehicle to influence potentially millions of people. He has invested billionaires into research, charities, non-profits. When he became the youngest NBA owner, he went through the emotional rollercoaster of the draft and going to the playoffs, etc. I loved his stories about how he took a big risk with the Seahawks but he is excited to see how they are able to compete with big money markets.

He also mentioned that if he was more patience and held onto his AOL stocks, he would have made 40 billion dollars!!!!! More money than he has made from all of the Microsoft stocks. That is such a crazy concept just because is still one the richest men in the world.

Another reflective comment he keeps talking about is it doesn’t matter if you have the coolest idea in the world, there needs to be a market for it. That is why being a dreamer is important to a certain extent but you still need a market because his research innovation lab was his biggest wasted investments, because on paper it was really good and there were groundbreaking inventions but none of it amounted to everything because they were poorly executed and the market thought it was too early for wide adoption.

Surround yourself with great people –he surrounded himself with People like Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Richard Branson, and I mean most of all of the people he hired were amazing, hard working people. He does realize the importance of your network. Even though Bill dropped out of Harvard he did meet a ton of very successful people that he hired that ended up growing his company to one of the biggest companies in the world today such as Ballmer and the guys who invented many other important Microsoft milestones and products.

His appreciation for the finer things in life is evident.

Creating a museum for Jimi Hendrix because he was such a fan and loved playing the guitar. The way he describes music is simply amazing. It truly gave me a new profound appreciation for the electric guitar.

I thought it was interesting that when he first met Michael Jordan in the playoffs he said the only time he has ever met someone with that level of confidence and leadership was Bill Gates. I just thought it was interesting because most people would never compare Bill Gates to Michael Jordan but it does make sense now because no one else is willing to work as hard as them. The vision that both MJ and Gates have was evident from day one.

Bill Gates at the young age of being in 8th grade knew that he was going to be Fortune 100 CEO and the stories that Paul Allen had of Bill being so fearless cold calling companies at the age of 18 is amazing pitching them his ideas before anything was even developed.

He also talked about the importance of diversifying your investments. One of his worst investments was his billions of dollars into Charter Communications. He felt like the telecom industry is moving at a mule’s pace for innovation and realized that put way too much energy time into that could be been diversified in other ventures he was more passionate about.

I hope you guys got something out of this read. If you guys are looking to read more and if you want to recommend a cool book similar to this book. Let me know I am excited to continue on my 1000 books journey…



davidsonhang View All →

Purpose: I create an empowering context for curious and hungry people looking for fulfillment, experiences, and creativity. We do this by developing their growth mindset, introducing self-love, and powerful group experiences. It results in people with strong boundaries, resilient mental health, and practical life skills

People leave with the ability to land their dream job, have autonomy and flexibility with their lifestyle, travel the world, and create from their heart and soul.


Davidson was once broke, insecure, low-confidence, and frustrated by doing all the wrong activities. Addicted to drugs, validation, and wallowing in self-pity. No relationship to family, and at the mercy of other people’s suggestions and opinions.

It was hell.

After spending $100k hiring different coaches, traveling the world doing workshops around the world, reading>1000 books, and through curiosity, have created the most effective system to remove people from that situation. My life’s work is to bring joy and abundance to people who as on a similar path as I was and bring back the joy and abundance of their life.

Through shared experiences and storytelling, I inspire and model behaviors that lead to a richer, more fulfilled life full of joy, experiences, passion, and ecstasy from the richness of relationships and being able to experience the depths of the human experience.

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