Learning the Value of Persistence
In elementary school, he got the traditional basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. Music was also part of the curriculum and he learned to play the accordion, a skill that he said later helped his understanding of technology and business.
He originally thought about becoming a doctor but by high school, decided he wanted to be a successful businessman. This goal was briefly jeopardized by a lackluster report card, causing one of his teachers to confront him: "Ross, talk is cheap. If you are as smart as they are, let me see some results."
With the encouragement of his teachers and others, he finished the next two years with stellar grades.
He attended Texarkana College, where he quickly made a name for himself. Elected student president, he led efforts to publish a yearbook, develop an intramural sports system and expand the school’s campus.
His dream was to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. He wrote letter after letter to Texas congressmen requesting admission. All went unanswered.
Then, one fateful day, Sen. W. Lee O’Daniel was going through paperwork, trying to address unfinished business before his looming retirement. An aide remembered Mr. Perot’s letters and suggested that an unfilled academy appointment should go to the "kid from Texarkana who has been trying for three years."
That opportunity fundamentally changed the direction of his life. He graduated from junior college and took the midshipman’s oath on his 19th birthday: June 27, 1949.
Like other plebes, he found freshman year at Annapolis challenging. Yet he was undaunted, and quickly distinguished himself as a leader. He became class vice president his sophomore year and was class president his junior and senior years.
He served as the chairman of the Naval Academy’s Honor Committee, which helped establish the honor system that guides its students today. He also served as a Battalion Commander, and escorted President Dwight D. Eisenhower during his tour of the Naval Academy.