ensen Huang's remarkable journey begins not in the boardrooms of Silicon Valley but in the bustling streets of Taiwan. 

Born in 1963, Huang's early life was a tapestry woven with cultural transitions, family sacrifices, and an unwavering passion for learning.

Early Challenges and Resilience:

When he was nine years old, he and his older brother were sent to the U.S. as unaccompanied minors. They arrived in Tacoma, Washington, to live with their uncle before being sent to the Oneida Baptist Institute in Kentucky, which Huang's uncle considered a prestigious boarding school. 

Unfortunately, due to a misunderstanding, they were initially sent to a boarding school for "troubled youth." This challenging experience undoubtedly shaped Huang's resilience and adaptability.

"Every student smoked, and I think I was the only boy at the school without a pocketknife," Huang told me. His roommate was illiterate; in exchange for teaching him to read, "he taught me how to bench-press. I ended up doing a hundred pushups every night before bed." - Huang to The NewYorker

According to a friend of Huang's named Bayes, who spoke with The New Yorker, Huang endured constant bullying. "To reach school, Huang crossed a rickety footbridge over a river.

"These swinging bridges, they were very high," Bayes said. "It was old planks, and most of them were missing." While crossing the bridge, local boys sometimes grabbed the ropes and tried to dislodge Huang.

"Somehow, it never seemed to affect him," Bayes said. "He just shook it off." By the end of the school year, Huang was leading those same kids on adventures into the woods. 

Support of Parents: 

While Huang's parents tirelessly worked to provide for their children, his mother played a particularly pivotal role.

Jensen's mother, who didn't speak or understand English then, taught him and his brother ten words from the dictionary daily to prepare them for a future on the other side of the world.

He credits his parents' hard work and sacrifices for putting him in a position to succeed and is incredibly thankful for them. This parental support and encouragement undoubtedly fueled Huang's determination to succeed.

A Thirst for Knowledge: 

Huang's innate curiosity and love for learning flourished despite the hardships. 

Huang was an exceptional student in high school, demonstrating a talent for academics and athletics. He was a nationally ranked table tennis player and participated in various school clubs related to math, computer science, and science.

Due to his advanced abilities, he skipped two grades and completed his studies at sixteen.

He had trouble fitting in with his peers and has spoken openly about attending a school for so-called "problematic" students, where he was made to clean toilets.

From Oneida to Oregon: Huang enrolled in Oregon State University, pursuing a degree in electrical engineering. This period saw the blossoming of his entrepreneurial spirit.

While studying, he co-founded a chip design company, demonstrating his early aptitude for innovation and business ventures.

Huang majored in electrical engineering at Oregon State University. "I was the youngest kid in the class," he said. "I looked like I was about twelve."

After completing his degree at O.S.U. in 1984, Huang began working and gaining experience at companies such as AMD and LSI Logic.

He continued his education in electrical engineering at Stanford during nights and weekends, earning his master's degree in 1992.

The academic atmosphere at Stanford and its emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship played a significant role in Huang's decision to found NVIDIA the following year. 

The Seeds of NVIDIA: 

Even during college, Huang's visionary thinking took shape. Fascinated by the emerging field of computer graphics, he saw its potential beyond the realm of professionals.

This nascent vision, nurtured during late-night discussions with friends, eventually bloomed at Denny's diner, marking the birthplace of NVIDIA.

In 1993, Nvidia was founded by Huang, Chris Malachowsky, and Curtis Priem, two veteran microchip designers. Huang had found work in Silicon Valley as microchips and was soon running his division while attending graduate school at Stanford by night.

Despite being younger than Malachowsky and Priem, Huang was considered ready to be C.E.O. due to his fast learning ability, according to Malachowsky.

The Future with Huang

According to Huang, Nvidia aims to merge its computer graphics research with generative A.I. research. Huang believes that image-generation A.I.s will become so advanced that they can create three-dimensional, inhabitable worlds populated by realistic-looking people.

Simultaneously, language-processing A.I.s can interpret voice commands immediately, and the "programming language of the future will be 'human,'" according to Huang.

Huang hopes to combine these technologies with ray tracing to enable users to speak entire universes into being. Our world's resulting "digital twins" could be used to safely train robots and self-driving cars.

The Omniverse, combined with V.R. technology, could allow users to enter customized realities.

The Power of Inspiration:  

Beyond his technical prowess and business acumen, Huang emphasizes the crucial role of inspiration in leadership. He believes that influential leaders need to be able to "create for nothing", meaning they don't need tangible resources to inspire and motivate others. 

Hope, aspiration, and inspiration are the driving forces that can ignite innovation and propel teams towards achieving seemingly impossible goals.

Furthermore, Huang's own story exemplifies the power of perseverance and taking the best of what you can, even in difficult situations. 

Despite facing challenges early on in the United States, he never allowed them to hinder his pursuit of knowledge, innovation, and success. This unwavering spirit is a testament to his strength and serves as an inspiration to others facing adversity.

Jensen Huang's childhood, marked by challenges and adaptations, shaped him into the resilient, innovative leader we know today.

It's a testament to the power of perseverance, parental support, and an unwavering passion for learning, laying the groundwork for the groundbreaking journey ahead.

Mar 1, 2024
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