10 Things You Didn’t Know about Doug Burgum

Doug Burgum

Doug Burgum is the current Governor of North Dakota. He secured his position by winning North Dakota’s 2016 gubernatorial election, which followed him beating the candidate endorsed by the state Republican party at the party convention. Very recently, interested individuals might have seen him pleading his state’s residents not to turn the wearing of masks during the current COVID-19 crisis into a political issue.

1. Born and Raised in Arthur, ND

Burgum was both born and raised in the city of Arthur in the state of North Dakota. It seems safe to say that he is the single most famous individual to come from the city, seeing as how its population can be measured in the low hundreds. In any case, Burgum’s family has a longstanding connection with Arthur, as shown by how his grandfather built a grain elevator in said location.

2. Spent Some Time As a Chimney Sweep

When Burgum was a senior at North Dakota State University, he started a chimney-sweeping business. Amusingly, this proved to be very beneficial for the application to the Stanford University Graduate School of Business that he had sent in at around the same time. In short, what happened was that the news did a story about him, which came complete with a picture of him sitting on a chimney in below-freezing conditions. Said story managed to make it to the AP wire service, thus enabling it to reach Stanford University’s admissions office.

3. Befriended Steve Ballmer

While he was studying at Stanford University, Burgum managed to befriend Steve Ballmer, the man who served as the CEO of Microsoft from January of 2000 to February of 2014. The whole thing was rather unexpected because Ballmer was in the cohort before Burgum, but it happened nonetheless. Something that would prove to be useful for the latter.

4. Became a Consultant with McKinsey & Company

After he graduated with his MBA, Burgum spent some time as a consultant with McKinsey & Company. However, it wasn’t too long before he made a jump into the sector that would make him rich. Something that was prompted by him seeing one of his co-workers use an Apple II to recalculate a simple spreadsheet, which made him realize the potential of such technologies.

5. He Bet the Farm on Great Plains Software

Burgum bet the farm on Great Plains Software in a very literal sense. This is because he mortgaged the farmland that he had inherited for $250,000, which was a huge bet on his part. In particular, Burgum felt a sense of fear when he saw something like 64 accounting software companies at the Comdex trade show even though he had been expecting just four or five, meaning that he had underestimated the amount of competition by a considerable margin. Still, that sense of fear wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because it provided him with an incredible motivation to succeed.

6. Attributes His Eventual Success to Two Factors

The immature state of the accounting software industry meant that Burgum’s Great Plains Software had a hard time differentiating itself from its competitors. However, there were a couple of things that changed this. One, Great Plains Software wrote middleware that enabled its accounting software to run on Mac as well as various versions of Windows because its leadership predicted the rise of GUIs, which was missed by a lot of their counterparts. Two, Great Plains Software started offering differentiated support in the sense that callers could wait less in exchange for paying more, which made customers happy because of the increased responsiveness.

7. Missed Out on Calling Center Software

Like most successful executives, Burgum still has some mistakes that he regrets making. For instance, he regrets that he missed out on the chance to jump into the calling center software industry. Apparently, Great Plains Software had just about all of the ingredients that they needed to make calling center software at a time when the industry was still starting up. However, it never turned that into an actual product because Burgum had been focused on its chosen field to what he now considers to have been an excessive level.

8. Knows Satya Nadella

In time, Burgum was convinced to sell Great Plains Software to Microsoft, which was particularly interesting because he had entered the accounting software industry years and years ago because he was assured by Ballmer that Microsoft had no interest in it. Following the purchase, Burgum and the rest of Great Plains Software were put into a very decentralized division of Microsoft, which was where he met Satya Nadella. Burgum recognized that Nadella was headed for great things, which was why he made him his global head of R&D.

9. Seems to See Drug Addiction As a Disease

It is interesting to note that Burgum seems to see drug addiction as a disease to be cured. For instance, he has brought up the importance of removing the stigma of addiction, which is important because stigmatization tends to lower the chances of sufferers seeking out professional help. Something that reduces their chances of either overcoming their issues or bringing their issues under control by a huge margin. On top of this, Burgum has stated that jailtime is not a cure for addiction but instead needs to incorporate rehabilitation for that particular effect.

10. Seems to Have a Lot of Faith in Technology

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Burgum seems to have a lot of faith in the ability of technology to solve the challenges confronting humans in the present time, as shown by his statement that it is innovation rather than regulation that will solve oil and gas-related challenges. To an extent, this is very understandable because technological advancements have enabled past generations overcome what were once considered to be insurmountable problems, with an excellent example being how the Malthusian trap was dismantled by the Green Revolution that happened in the 1950s and 1960s. Having said that, just because technological advancements have saved us from our problems in the past, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we can count on this to always be the case in the times to come.



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