As the son of a sharecropper his beginnings did not suit the role of an entrepreneur who would in the future help to shape and run a Fortune 500 company.
His life started off an awful lot like Abraham Lincolns, he was the youngest of five children who had to use a coal burning stove to stay warm and share an outhouse.
By the age of 15 Sperling was a struggling student without much of a future when his father died suddenly.
That was a turning point in his life, it pressed him to start making an income and John joined the Merchant Marines.
There he and his shipmates spent their downtime reading books regarding politics and history.
It was at this point that John became hooked on learning and education and it pushed him towards a job as an instructor of Humanities at San Jose University.
In near by San Francisco is where the now famous, University of Phoenix was born.
Like Nearly all Great Entrepreneurs, John Sperling Saw a Need And Filled It.
In the early 1970's John and a group of instructors created a private entity to educate police officers and other teachers how to work with At-risk youth.
This system was so well received that John and his, now partners, developed an additional curriculum specifically for working adults that was allied with local colleges from the Bay area.
From those programs sprang the early beginnings of an organization often known as the Institute for Professional Development.
While not the first, this group was on a strong path to become the leader in "for profit" education.
John Sperling was considered to be a pioneer in the design and conception of the new form of education delivery services.
While, quickly becoming a successful enterprise, John and his associates found themselves at odds with the State of California Educational system.
Little did he know at the time, but this would result in a profound name change and move.
Which was the start of a company that became recognized all over the world for it's leadership in adult learning and education.
With a quick move to Arizona, this small but promising firm became known as The University of Phoenix.
Sperling Continues To Be An Leader And Entrepreneur Once he had a successful business, John Sperling could have easily sat back and enjoyed the fruits of his labor.
But what made him the leader of an industry still serves him today.
He continues to look past the obvious and ascertain the wants of what some would consider to be a reasonably uninteresting and difficult market to enter.
His company evolved into one of the first to provide on-line teaching and has made its targets for instruction, working adults, parents and minorities offering them lessons and programs not always easily found in traditional colleges.
This has produced challenges for Sperling and his team, but at 90, he continues to contemplate creative methods to bring about new and distinctive programs and methods to deliver those programs to those that are not able to otherwise obtain the education they need to achieve their dreams.
As with most other successful entrepreneurs, John Sperling has continued to direct his company forward and allowed his vision to move him past the trying times and propel him in the good times.
John Seprling is proof once again, that a great entrepreneur doesn't have to come from wealth or even a highly educated background.
But drive determination, focus and a gift for looking for a deficit in the market are the cornerstones of what creates this distinctive combination for success.