August 13 is unanimously declared as International Left Handers Day. Some sources credit it to the “Left-Hander’s Day Club” starting it in 1992, while others attribute it to an organization called “Lefthanders International” who reportedly celebrated it first in 1976.
Although scientists disagree over the exact percentage of left-handed people in the world (with statistics varying from 5% to 30%), it can be agreed upon that some of the most extraordinary and successful people in history have been left-handed. Bidness Etc highlights five such tycoons who have left a mark in the business world.
1. Bill Gates
The founder of Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) has been the richest man in the world 15 out of the past 20 years, according to Forbes. In 1975, he dropped out of Harvard University in his junior year to concentrate on his newly-formed company, Microsoft, and developed software for personal computers. In 1980 he got an offer by IBM to make operating systems for them and the result, MS-DOS, soon became the number one software and the growth of licenses soon boosted his illustrious career, that eventually made him the richest man in the world with a net worth of $76 billion.
Leftie Trait – High IQ: Although no official study has confirmed it, the observed trend shows that the proportion of left-handed Nobel laureates and MENSA members is much higher than the general global left:right-handed ratio. Unofficial figures state 20% of all MENSA members are left handers. Bill Gates scored an astounding 1,590 out of 1,600 in his SATs which at that time was equivalent to an IQ level of 170 – around the same IQ level as Albert Einstein (who, along with Newton, was believed to be left-handed, though no concrete evidence exists). This is credited to their ability to use both sides of the brain and process more information.
2. Oprah Winfrey
Oprah’s mother was a housemaid and she was so poor growing up that she had to wear clothes made of potato sacks. At the age of 18, she entered and won the Miss Black Tennessee pageant, attracted the attention of her local black radio show, and started her career in media that would one day make her the richest self-made woman in America and first black woman billionaire in history with a net worth of $2.9 billion, according to Forbes.
Leftie Trait – Artistic: Research conducted by the American Journal of Psychology claims that left handers are “divergent thinkers” which makes them better at thinking creative solutions and arts (famous artists like Da Vinci and Raphael were allegedly left-handed). Oprah’s creativity is clearly seen in her various roles in the media arts including acting, producing, being a talk show host, and a media proprietor.
3. Steve Forbes
With a personal net worth of $430 million, the chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media is well-known for being at the helm of the company founded by his grandfather. The magazine went digital in 1996 under his watch and he is the only one to be the recipient of the prestigious Crystal Owl Award four times.
A distinguishing factor about this left hander is his political ambitions which had him contest for the republican nomination for presidency in 1996 and 2000. Previously, during the cold war period, he was given the critical position of the chairman of the Board for International Broadcasting by Ronald Reagan (who was an ambidextrous left-hander, unlike US Presidents Hoover, Truman, H.W.Bush, Clinton, and Obama, who were born pure left-handers).
Leftie Trait – Multitasking: Research shows that the brains of left handers transfer information more quickly and so make them more efficient when multitasking. Mr. Forbes is sure to have used this trait to manage wearing multiple hats in his lifetime.
4. Henry Ford II
It is widely believed that auto industry pioneer Henry Ford was left-handed. However, a careful observation of his photographs signing guestbooks or holding a violin would suggest otherwise. In contrast, his grandson, Henry Ford II is observed to use his left hand for daily tasks.
Henry Ford II held various positions in his family empire during his lifetime including being the president, chairman and CEO of Ford Motor Company (F) and president of the Ford Foundation. Under his tenure, Ford became a publically traded corporation in 1956 and raised $650 million. In 1980 when he retired, Ford was the world’s fourth-biggest industrial corporation.
Leftie Trait – Better memory: Experiments have revealed that left-handed people – or people related to left handers – tend to have better memories. While the study is not conclusive, scientists attribute the results to a “larger corpus callosums, the bridges of neurons linking the brain’s hemispheres” in left-handers. If Henry Ford was indeed ambidextrous, he could have passed the better memory trait to his grandson which would have served him well in the corporate sector, to have the presence of mind to make the company prosper.
Although there are numerous sources claiming that John D. Rockefeller was left-handed, photographicevidence suggests that he was probably ambidextrous. On the other hand, his grandson David Rockefeller has often been observed signing and writing with his left hand.
David Rockefeller grew up in the famous Rockefeller family, served in the US Army in World War II and upon his return, joined Chase National Bank. He worked his way up to become the senior vice president of the bank, oversaw the merger between Chase National and the Bank of Manhattan, and soon become the chairman and CEO of the merged Chase Manhattan bank to amass a net worth of $3 billion.
He is not only known for his expertise in international banking and foreign relations, but also for his philanthropic spirit which has seen him donate millions to medical research and $100 million to his alma mater, Harvard University – the largest donation by an alumnus in the institute’s history.
Leftie Trait – Money making: A paperpublished by the National Bureau of Economic Research asserts that left-handed men earn 13% more than their right-handed counterparts. This may have various reasons and apparently Rockefeller has utilized the trait well to reach number 588 on Forbes’ billionaires list.
Other left-handed Tycoons include LeBron James (who plays right-handed but writes left-handed), and Jessica Alba.