Leonard Riggio

Leonard Riggio

Founder & Chairman

Barnes & Noble

New York, NY USA

If you try to leap too far ahead too fast, a sense of alienation can set in...Remember that you can always start small.


By Roadtrip Nation

Leonard Riggio

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My road in life took a while to figure out.
I was born and raised in New York City.
After high school, I began attending night classes at New York University, where I majored in metallurgical engineering.
I was too poor to attend college full-time, so I took a day job as a clerk at New York University's campus bookstore—this is what initially sparked my interest in business and retail.
Feeling too confined and unable to make a difference at the NYU bookstore, I decided to drop out of college and use my savings to open up my own college bookstore: the Student Book Exchange.
The store ended up being a huge success and we were able to open up more campus bookstores throughout New York, eventually expanding onto other college campuses.
In 1971, I bought the struggling Barnes & Noble bookstore and began further expanding the company.
In 1986, I bought B. Dalton—a chain of 800 mall bookstores—and we began to explore the concept of turning our bookstores into superstores that served as multifunctional gathering places.
Since building Barnes & Noble into one of the biggest booksellers in the world, I’ve upheld a commitment to public service, serving on the boards of two dozen nonprofit organizations.
Keep following my journey


Founder & Chairman

I am a businessman and entrepreneur leading one of the largest chains of booksellers in the world.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Upholding a Cause and Belief

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

You have to be a hustler. Work harder, longer, and faster than everybody else. Have a mission and dedicate yourself fully to it, everything else you do will revolve around that. Never think that you know everything, always be open to continually learning and growing.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for everyone

Start small and build as you go. If you feel like you can do a better job than someone else, then go do it.


The Noise I Shed

From Peers:

"Here, read this you dummy."

Challenges I Overcame