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Perot’s persistence paid off early

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

Growing up in Texas, the young Ross Perot had never seen a ship or an ocean but knew he wanted to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., because his scout leader had gone there.

Perot’s buddies couldn’t understand why he was so determined (read: “stubborn”), but he’d made up his mind.

Perot enrolled at Texarkana Junior College but wrote letters—over and over—to congressmen and senators, asking them to appoint him to Annapolis. Finally, a telegram from Sen. W. Lee O’Daniel delivered what Perot had wanted so badly: an appointment to the academy.

Long after he’d become a millionaire, Perot took a call from the senator’s former aide, who asked Perot if he’d ever wondered how he got that appointment.

As it turns out, the aide was tidying O’Daniel’s office when he discovered an unfilled appointment to the Naval Academy. The senator asked if anybody wanted it.

“Well,” the aide said, “there is this boy from Texarkana who has been trying to get it for three years.” Give it to him, O’Daniel said. The young man’s name never came up.

Perot calls it luck, but what do you think?

—Adapted from Take Command, Kelly Perdew, Regnery Publishing Inc.

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