Do you have any regrets?
Would you change any of the decisions you made in the past?
Would you go back and do anything differently if you could?
Well think of this guy.
In 1976, in the days before domestic computers, Ron Wayne was an electronics industry worker.
He’d made a bad investment in a slot-machine company in Las Vegas.
The business had gone bankrupt leaving him with debts.
He decided to settle down with a steady income, and he joined Atari.
After a couple of years he managed to clear his debts.
While he was at Atari, he got to know two young guys who were building DIY computer kits in their spare time.
These kits made it possible for enthusiasts to assemble their own basic computer at home.
The young guys wanted to start manufacturing and selling them and they thought they needed an older, more experienced partner.
They were in their twenties, Ron was in his forties.
They offered Ron 10% if he’d be a partner.
He designed a logo for the company, he helped draw up a contract, he advised them on what they needed to do.
But Ron worried.
All the everyday things that you needed to do to run a company, these kids weren’t interested in.
You had to think about revenue, income forecasts, profit and loss, board meetings, premises, stationary, staff, taxes, a million things.
All these kids wanted to talk about was ‘changing the world’.
This all felt very flaky to Ron.
And Ron was particularly worried about the usual clause in the partners’ contracts on ‘joint and several guarantees’.
This meant that, should the company go belly-up, any single partner could be held responsible for the entire amount of debt.
These two kids didn’t own anything, whereas Ron had a family, a house and all the usual possessions.
Obviously the bank would go after him first.
He didn’t want to get into debt all over again.
So after just 12 days, he decided he didn’t need the stress and told them he didn’t want to be a partner.
He had his name legally removed from the contract and sold his 10% back to them for $800.
And the two kids carried on without Ron.
They even got a venture capitalist involved.
The venture capitalist offered Ron $1,500 if he’d agree to forfeit all future claims against the company.
He was happy, it was money he never expected.
The two kids were Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs.
The company was Apple.
Within 18 months, sales revenues were $2.7 million.
The year after, $7.8 million.
And the year after, $118 million.
By 1982 the company’s sales were $1 billion a year.
Within four years Apple made 300 people millionaires.
By 1994 it became evident that Apple had become part of modern history.
But of course, Ron couldn’t have seen any of that.
Someone approached Ron and asked if he was interested in selling the original partners’ agreement.
They offered him $500 for it.
Ron accepted, again it was money he hadn’t expected.
In 2011, that agreement sold at Sotheby’s for $1.6 million.
When you’re regretting any decisions you made in the past, think of Ron.
His original 10% share of Apple would be worth $56 billion today.