The marketer in question is, of course, David Ogilvy. He was given the educational opportunity of a lifetime—the chance to study at the prestigious University of Oxford. He was expelled, with the reason undisclosed, in 1931.

Ogilvy never had a college degree, proving you don't need to have a marketing degree to be a fantastic marketer. However, the experiences in the years that followed did shape him into one of the greatest marketers ever.

The Wilderness Years

After a brief stint as a kitchen monkey in a Paris hotel, Ogilvy started working for the Aga Cookers company in England, selling stoves door to door. It was his first taste of marketing, and he excelled, eventually writing a sales manual for Aga salesmen described by Forbes as "probably the best sales manual ever written."

After fortuitously landing a job at a London agency in part because of that very manual, in 1938 Ogilvy was sent, at his request, to the United States to attend George Gallup's Audience Research Institute in New Jersey. He cited this experience as a huge influence on his thinking, because he learned not only research methods but also how to apply findings to real life.

In the 10 years that followed, Ogilvy worked for British Intelligence during the World War. He purchased farmland in rural Pennsylvania, where he lived among the Amish. By 1948 he realized that farming wasn't his calling, and he moved to New York to start his own ad agency.

Founding an Agency

Ogilvy became a founding member of Hewitt, Ogilvy, Benson & Mather (which would eventually become Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide), even though he had little experience as an ad man.

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Matt D'Alesio is the owner of Marketing Degree Advisor, an online resource for getting the lowdown on getting a marketing degree.