Laurene Powell had been born in New Jersey in 1963 and learned to be self-sufficient at an early age.
Her father was a Marine Corps pilot who died a hero in a crash in Santa Ana, California;
he had been leading a crippled plane in for a landing,
and when it hit his plane he kept flying to avoid a residential area rather than ejecting in time to save his life.
Her mother's second marriage turned out to be a horrible situation,
but she felt she couldn't leave because she had no means to support her large family.
For ten years Laurene and her three brothers had to suffer in a tense household,
keeping a good demeanor while compartmentalizing problems. She did well.
"The lesson I learned was clear, that I always wanted to be self-sufficient," she said. "I took pride in that.
My relationship with money is that it's a tool to be self-sufficient, but it's not something that is part of who I am."
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, she worked at Goldman Sachs as a fixed income trading strategist,
dealing with enormous sums of money that she traded for the house account.
Jon Corzine, her boss, tried to get her to stay at Goldman, but instead she decided the work was unedifying.
"You could be really successful," she said, "but you're just contributing to capital formation."
So after three years she quit and went to Florence, Italy, living there for eight months before enrolling in Stanford Business School.