Dave Packard

In Jim Collins's book, Good to Great, he outlines the commonalities of companies that made the leap from good companies to great ones. He talks a lot about leaders and leadership, about the importance of humility and selflessness. This is one passage that I found particularly inspiring:

Shortly before his death, I had the opportunity to meet Dave Packard. Despite being one of Silicon Valley's first self-made billionaires, he lived in the same small house that he and his wife built themselves in 1957, overlooking a simple orchard. The tiny kitchen, with its dated linoleum, and the simply furnished living room bespoke a man who needed no material symbols to proclaim "I'm a billionaire. I'm important. I'm successful." "His idea of a good time," said Bill Terry, who worked with Packard for thirty-six years, "Was to get some of his friends together to string some barbed wire." Packard bequeathed his $5.6 billion estate to a charitable foundation and, upon his death, his family created a eulogy pamphlet with a photo of him sitting on a tractor in farming clothes. The caption made no reference to his stature as one of the great industrialists of the twentieth century. It simply read: "Dave Packard, 1912-1996, Rancher, etc."

SIDE NOTE: Packard and Hewlett famously started their company in a garage with $538. Here's an HP ad about the "Rules of the Garage."