(bright music) - [Interviewer] So this first one is just about you and we just wanna know about you that's why I kind of started with what's your origin story, so you know, you have celebrity status. Definitely. - (laughs) There's many degrees. We're talking about, we're being interviewed by LinkedIn, where you've got Reid Hoffman, you have Jeff Weiner, so there's lots of degrees here. - [Interviewer] Yeah, sure, sure. So of course people are wondering what were you like as a kid.
What was DJ like as a kid? - Yeah. I was a very curious kid. But perennially in trouble. So it's somewhat well known, I've talked about it on LinkedIn. You know, by the time I was a freshman in high school, the first I think six weeks into my freshman year, I had already been suspended, kicked out of my math class, had my rights read to me. Wasn't really off to a great track. - [Interviewer] What exactly did you do? - I just didn't have a great circle of friends.
And so I listened to them. Like all of us, when we're in that age of trying to grow up. If you're not surrounded by people who are pushing you, it's a challenge. But who're pushing you in a constructive way to be better. And I got very fortunate that I was able to have people who said "look, this is right and wrong." One of the ones that did happen is the person who suspended me was a person named Mr. Nabb, and I had a chance to give a commencement speech about Mr. Nabb. But the part that was most important about that is that what Mr. Nabb did was he suspended me, made it very clear why he was suspending me, but two years later, in the summer of my junior year, he actually picked me to be in the special leadership program at the high school.
To basically champion people. And was kind of this moment of walking into this program about "Hey, here's all the next generation leaders," and everyone's like "Why is DJ here?" (laughs) And it was like he fundamentally believed in second chances. And what does it take to have a second chance. And that sort of really awakened a different idea that I could be something different. And what would it look like if I started to work hard at that? My grades were dismal. I failed my first algebra class, had to go to summer school, barely graduated from high school, had to go to community college.
But the thing that was in there was all that time, I was still playing with science. I was playing with computers, I was figuring out how to hack into the grading system to change grades, I was figuring out how to do clever things with technology and data. But part of it also was I didn't have a great broad set of teachers who were realizing "Hey, there's maybe something interesting that this traditional educational structure doesn't work." We need a different style for me. And we're lucky nowadays that we have that.
We have places you can go, problems you can work on, there's other services, there's online courses, there's things people can do. I didn't have that. (bright music)