Icahn relished the label of disruptor.
"Well, the way I define disruptive, it's an honor," he said. "I think being disruptive to a board and to a CEO that is doing a bad job, it's an honor to do that. It helps society."
Icahn also brushed off criticism of his bare-knuckled tactics.
"I have a lot of intellectual security," he said. "I look at these criticisms, and I'm sort of inured to it because I just think, 'Who the hell are these guys to say what they're saying?'"
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Referring to his Princeton University days, Icahn said that he was incredibly focused on his thesis.
"I worked for six months on nothing else. It wasn't to get a good mark. It was just to get it right," he said. "What I've seen is a common denominator for successful people—I don't mean just lucky; you know, you can get lucky for a year or two, get rich. But for people that make a lot of money, at least in business, or in any area, I think, the common denominator is an obsession, that they really are obsessed."
Getting it right, he added, was his primary goal.
"It's like the thesis, just getting it right, getting it done, almost a perfectionist. Money is a scorecard. I don't need the money anymore," he said, noting that most of his estimated $25 billion worth was pledged. "But I'm obsessed in getting something right."
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The 78-year-old native New Yorker said he had no plans to retire.
"I love what I do," Icahn said. "And what else am I going to do? Play shuffleboard in Florida somewhere? What the hell can I do? What would I do?"