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He attended Bismarck State College, where he earned a track and field scholarship, was captain of the cross country team and ran the 1,000 meters at the 1974 National Junior College championship. He then transferred to Stanford University,
Karlgaard's first job after college was as an editorial assistant at Runner's World in 1977. He quit a few months later to write a book called The Last World On Running, that was published in 1978 by Caroline House. Karlgaard spent the late 1970s and early 1980s working as a dishwasher and security guard before becoming an advertising writer in Silicon Valley and a technical writer at the Electric Power Research Institute.
Karlgaard's breakthrough occurred in 1985, when and friend, Anthony B. Perkins founded what became Silicon Valley's largest public affairs organization, the 6,500-member Churchill Club. In 1988, Karlgaard and Perkins founded Upside Magazine. In 1997, Karlgaard and Guy Kawasaki started Garage Technology Ventures.
Karlgaard writes a column called "Digital Rules" for the Fortune magazine and a blog for Forbes.com. He speaks professionally about 40 times a year and is represented by the Washington Speakers Bureau. He is a pilot and holds an instrument rating. He wrote about his flying experiences in a 2004 book called Life 2.0 which became a Wall Street Journal bestseller. Karlgaard took up cycling in 2009 and occasionally competes in local bike races. He is married to Marjorie Unsoeld Karlgaard and has two children.
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