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The Quick 10: What 10 CEOs Were Doing Before Conquering the Corporate World

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Yeah, they're making a bazillion dollars now, but even the corporate bigwigs had to start somewhere. Here are a few that might give you hope for your own career. I'm especially fond of #1...

1. Robert Iger, CEO of the Walt Disney Company, was a weatherman for the local news.

2. Howard Stringer, CEO of Sony, served in the Vietnam war for the U.S., even though he is British and had only been in the States for about six weeks when he was drafted. After that he worked various jobs at CBS, including running the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, which he claims is still his favorite job ever.

3. Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, worked for Atari on and off for a while, helping them develop and tweak games. He designed the circuit board for the Pong-like game Breakout.

4. Mark Parker, CEO of Nike.

This may not come as a surprise, but Mark used to design footwear... for Nike.

5. Frank Blake, CEO of Home Depot, served as the law clerk to Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

6. Larry Probst, the CEO of Electronic Arts (you know, The Sims, Spore, Rock Band, etc.), was the National Accounts Manager for Clorox. Yeah, the bleach. So it totally makes sense that he runs a video game publisher now.

7. Vikram Pandit, the CEO of Citigroup, was a junior finance professor at Indiana University (Bloomington).

8. Brad Anderson, the CEO of Best Buy, started his career in the music business in 1973 as a salesman with a chain of stereo stores called Sound of Music. It took him two weeks to make his first sale.

9. Samuel Palmisano, the CEO of IBM, had a stint playing backup sax for The Temptations. OK, it was only for a week, but that's still interesting.

10. Alan Lafley, the CEO of Procter and Gamble, started his career in 1977 as a "Brand Assistant of Joy". I'm assuming that means the dish soap, not the emotion. Although that would have been awesome. Balloon animals for all employees!!

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Vanilla and French Vanilla Ice Cream?
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While you’re browsing the ice cream aisle, you may find yourself wondering, “What’s so French about French vanilla?” The name may sound a little fancier than just plain ol’ “vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the origin of the vanilla itself. (Vanilla is a tropical plant that grows near the equator.)

The difference comes down to eggs, as The Kitchn explains. You may have already noticed that French vanilla ice cream tends to have a slightly yellow coloring, while plain vanilla ice cream is more white. That’s because the base of French vanilla ice cream has egg yolks added to it.

The eggs give French vanilla ice cream both a smoother consistency and that subtle yellow color. The taste is a little richer and a little more complex than a regular vanilla, which is made with just milk and cream and is sometimes called “Philadelphia-style vanilla” ice cream.

In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2010—when Baskin-Robbins decided to eliminate French Vanilla from its ice cream lineup—ice cream industry consultant Bruce Tharp noted that French vanilla ice cream may date back to at least colonial times, when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both used ice cream recipes that included egg yolks.

Jefferson likely acquired his taste for ice cream during the time he spent in France, and served it to his White House guests several times. His family’s ice cream recipe—which calls for six egg yolks per quart of cream—seems to have originated with his French butler.

But everyone already knew to trust the French with their dairy products, right?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at

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Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
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Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.


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