MasterClass CEO David Rogier On The Extreme Power Of Curiosity
David Rogier always loved to ask questions.
- December 22, 2017
David Rogier always loved to ask questions. “I love to learn,” shares the Co-Founder and CEO of MasterClass.”But ever since the first grade I got in trouble in class because I usually questioned what my teacher said.” As much as he loved learning, Rogier, who had a bad stutter when he was a child, struggled in school. “I wasn’t rewarded for being a kid who was dorky and curious,” says the entrepreneur who created and sold a search engine with his friend when they were in middle school. “Those traits were not valued. So I got in trouble and didn’t get good grades.” He will never forget the time when he complained to his grandma about his math homework. Her response was sit down and let me tell you a story. When she was 16 and living in Kraków, Poland, she and her mother went on vacation while her father stayed behind to work. While they were away, the Nazis invaded Kraków and her father was killed. She fled to New York City, got a job on a factory floor but longed to go to medical school. “She applied to something like 50 schools and got a “no” from every single one," says Rogier. The following year she applied again and was rejected by every single one. “Then she called the Deans of Admissions asking why didn’t you let me in? Each person hung up the phone on her except for one who told her point blank: "You have three strikes against you. You are a woman. You’re a foreigner. And you’re Jewish." And he hung up," recalls Rogier. Ever intrepid, Rogier’s grandma applied to medical schools until she finally got accepted into one. She ultimately became a doctor and built a successful practice. “Here I was in the second grade as she told me this story,” recalls Rogier. “She said, “David, I’m trying to tell you that education is the only thing that someone can’t take away from you.” Rogier kept his Grandma’s precepts close to his heart. “I wanted to build a school which teaches things that people can’t take away from others. I wanted to create a school that made it possible for anybody in the world to learn from some of the best minds and masters of their crafts,” says Rogier who was recruited by Tesco to launch their first stores in the United States He then got his MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business where he met tech investor Michael Dearing, whom he worked for after graduation. In fact, Dearing became his first MasterClass investor. “I thought, how do we do this affordably, where it's not thousands of dollars. How do you do it in a way for somebody like me who is curious and wants to learn?”
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