049 – Running the Numbers with Phil Drake

049 – Running the Numbers with Phil Drake


Phil Drake and Steve Kurti - Table Top Inventing Podcast

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[In This Episode][Guest Bio][Additional Notes][Text Transcript]

In This Episode

How important are failures in the process of success?  Just how different is a career in computer science in 1977 from the same degree in 2015?  Can small town students find success in the “real world”?  Join us for the down home answers on today’s podcast.

Hey there, Innovation Nation!  Today’s guest is from my home town of Franklin, NC.  Franklin is a small town in the Smoky Mountains and home to some of the most down-to-earth, gentle, gracious folks in the country–I’m not biased or anything.  As a kid, I always dreamed about growing up to be significant, and businessmen like Mr. Drake fired my imagination.  However as a young teenager, no one told me how to get on that path to significance.

Unfortunately, many young teenagers are like I was:  a little misguided.  I didn’t know what it took to realize great dreams, but T. E. Lawrence–an English archaeologist and military officer–sums up the process quite poetically.  He says,

“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did.”

Great deeds do not begin on the drawing board.  They begin in the heart.  Perhaps rather than trying to find out how great our students are by testing them, we should instead spend time working to inspire them.

At Table Top Inventing, we exist to inspire teenagers.  Our summer Inventor’s Bootcamps, after school Inventor Workshops, and exclusive tech mentoring are all designed to inspire students to aim higher.  Our globe is facing significant challenges over the next 20 years, and today’s students will be the ones to solve many of the current problems.

Students must learn that they can find the answers they need through research, experimenting, and collaborating with others.  They need to discover just how powerful they can really be, but these realizations will not happen by accident.  The proper environment for innovative, creative learning is essential.  Learn more at InventingZone.com.

Today’s guest is no stranger to innovation.  Phil Drake started programming a computer in 1977 when computers still had to be programmed by hand if you wanted them to do anything.  You might think that such a forward thinking individual would come from New York City or LA or San Francisco, but this entrepreneur started life on a farm as the son of the local “tax man”.  Let’s listen in to the story of a fascinating homegrown businessman.

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About Phil

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 1.31.56 PMPhil Drake is a native of Franklin, NC.  He graduated from Franklin High School in 1969, and graduated from Davidson College with a BA in Mathematics in 1973.

He has been married to the former Sharon Johnson for 39 years. They have three adult children and six grandchildren.

After teaching high school for three years, he entered the accounting arena and began developing Tax Software in 1977. His company now has over 500 people employed either full-time or part-time in Macon, Clay and Haywood counties in various enterprises. Those businesses include accounting, retail, software, dining, theater, golf, printing, internet service, family entertainment, construction, and fiber optics.

Drake Enterprises has teamed with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to build a fiber ring that connects the far western counties of North Carolina via a fiber backbone.
The software division of Drake served over 42,000 tax preparers throughout the United States, and electronically filed over 13 million federal tax returns and 10 million state returns in 2013.

Phil has served as a Minister of Music and Youth, has taught Sunday School for many years, and currently serves on the Board of The National Christian Foundation in Atlanta.

He likes his work, and he loves spending time with his family, including trying to outplay his grandchildren in video games.

What is the Purpose of an Education?

“It’s learning how to make a living, but knowledge for knowledge’s sake is worth something too.”Phil Drake

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Additional Notes


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Full Text Transcript – Coming Soon!

phildrake“The IBM guy that came in rolled the computer in on a hand truck, and he brought a programming manual.  I flipped through the programming manual, and in 30 minutes I was able to read enough that I knew I could learn it.  I knew I could learn how to program that computer, even though I never had any programming background.” –Phil Drake

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