Have you ever asked yourself: “Have I lost my spark, or I am doing things right?”
Additional questions will add up that may drag you down or lift you up. Whatever right or wrong we think we do, we just have to trust the timing of our lives.
I’ve made a list of tycoons that had the same question in mind “Am I going in the right direction or am I going to sell paper cups and milkshake mixers my whole life?” – Ray Kroc until 52 sold paper cups and milkshake mixers.
Going further with the phenomenal stories of the late bloomers, we will conclude that miracles can happen when we “think” we are lost in life.
1. Marc Cuban, Dallas Mavericks owner (until 25 bartender at his own bar)
At age 25, Mark graduated from Indiana University and moved to Dallas. He started as a bartender, then a salesperson for a PC software retailer. He actually got fired because he wanted to go close a deal rather than open a store in the morning. That inspired him to open his first business, MicroSolutions.
Mark said: “When I got to Dallas, I was struggling — sleeping on the floor with six guys in a three-bedroom apartment,” Cuban writes in his book “How to Win at the Sport of Business.” “I used to drive around, look at the big houses, and imagine what it would be like to live there and use that as motivation.
“I was a PC consultant, and I sold software and did training and configured computers. I wrote my own programs. I immersed myself in the PC industry and studied Microsoft and Lotus and watched what the smartest people did to make things work. I remember one day I had to drive to Austin for some PC part, to a place called PCs Limited. The place was run by this kid who was younger than I was. We sat down and talked for a few hours. I was really impressed by him. I remember telling him, “Dude, I think we’re both going places.” That “dude” was Michael Dell.
That year I made the decision to get MicroSolutions into local-area networks. We hooked up PCs at small to medium-size businesses so workers could share information. We were one of the first to do that. We resold products from TeleVideo and Novell. This was literally the foundation of my later career. MicroSolutions grew into a company with $30 million in revenues. I sold it a few years later to CompuServe. That start enabled me to found AudioNet, which became Broadcast.com, which my partner, Todd Wagner, and I sold to Yahoo. Then came the Dallas Mavericks and everything else, of course.
2. Suze Orman, finance guru (until 30 a waitress)
In the early 1970s she was a waitress at the Buttercup Bakery in Berkeley, Calif. “It was one of the greatest jobs I’ve ever had in my life”. When a few of her favorite customers pooled $50,000 in 1980 to help Orman open her own restaurant, she endowed it to a financial adviser who lost it all in bad investments.
Furious and determined to pay back her customers, Orman devoured the Wall Street Journal and learned the ins and outs of the financial markets, eventually landing a job as a stockbroker at Merrill Lynch. “If I hadn’t lost the money that everybody gave me, I very well would still be a waitress today,” Orman says.
She opened her own financial firm and in 1995, as a way to impress her clients, wrote a book “You’ve Earned It, Don’t Lose It,” which was a surprise success.
Her second book led to TV appearances, and now Orman’s brand of straight talk has become so legendary that she is regularly spoofed on Saturday Night Live. But the current state of the economy is no laughing matter. “It’s really, really, really bad,” says Orman. And before it gets better, think 2015, she says “It’s going to get a lot worse.” That is why Orman is on a mission: “If I can tell you the truth, then just maybe you will know the actions to take for your own good, people! My job is to be the financial truth crusader. It’s time to get honest. Hope for the best. But plan for the worst.”
3. Harrison Ford, actor and producer (until 30 was a carpenter)
By the late 1970s, Ford still had not smashed the big time and was still working as a carpenter. While building a doorway in a studio one day, Ford was spotted by Lucas who was casting for a new film. He asked Ford to come and read with the other potentials and, despite having other actors in mind like Nick Nolte, Kurt Russell and Christopher Walken, Lucas soon realized he had found his man. The film, a sci-fi adventure movie, was ‘Star Wars’. It would later go on to become one of the most successful films of all time and Ford’s role as the wise-cracking, loveable-rogue smuggler Han Solo would set him on the path to super-stardom.
4. Pejman Nozad, angel investor (until 30 rug dealer)
Nozad’s first big stake was on a startup called Danger, which aimed to make handheld devices for exchanging data. Nozad had sold Danger’s cofounder Andy Rubin a $5,000 rug. The deal took hours of negotiation, and Nozad was impressed. He inquired about Danger. He couldn’t quite make sense of the technology, but after the first business meeting with Rubin (who now runs Google’s Android division), Nozad turned to his mentor Amidi and said: “I would invest in that guy if he was selling red balloons. He will make things happen.” And so Amidzad wrote a check for $400,000.
5. Sheldon Adelson, Las Vegas Sands founder (until 30 sold shampoo and windshield defroster)
Adelson was born into a poor family and grew up in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts.
Sheldon started his business career at the age of 12, when he borrowed two hundred dollars from his uncle and purchased a license to sell newspapers in Boston. At the age of 16, he had started a candy-vending-machine business. He attended trade school to become a court reporter and subsequently joined the army. Adelson attended City College of New York, but soon decided to drop out.
He established a business selling toiletry kits after being discharged from the army then started another business named De-Ice-It, which sold a chemical spray to help clear frozen windshields. In the 1960s, he started a charter tours business. He had soon become a millionaire, although by his 30s he had built and lost a fortune twice. Over the course of his business career, Adelson has created over 50 of his own businesses.
6. Manoj Bhargava, 5-Hour Energy founder (until 30 was taxi driver and monk)
Bhargava says he spent his 20s traveling between monasteries owned and tended by an ashram called Hanslok. Bhargava claims he spent 12 years trying to master a technique: the stilling of the mind, often through meditation. He still considers himself a member of the Hanslok order and spends an hour a day in his Farmington Hills basement in contemplative silence.
Bhargava would return to the U.S. periodically during his ashram years, working odd jobs before returning to India. For a few months he drove a yellow cab in New York. When he moved back from India for good, it was to help with the family plastics business at his parents’ urging. He spent the next decade dabbling in RV armrests and beach chair parts. He had no interest in plastics whatsoever but devoted himself to buying small, struggling regional outfits and turning them around.
By 2001 Bhargava had expanded his Indiana PVC manufacturer from zero sales to $25 million (he eventually sold it to a private equity firm for $20 million in 2006). He decided to retire and moved to Michigan to be near his wife’s family. “Nobody moves on purpose to Detroit,” says Bhargava. His retirement lasted two months. He knew from his plastics success that the chemicals industry was ripe for exploiting. “Chemicals are really simple,” he says. “You mix a couple things together and sell it for more than the materials cost.”
Bhargava claims to be the richest Indian in America—a title that officially belongs to Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, but trying to untangle Bhargava’s business structure requires a 24-pack of 5-Hour Extra Strength. He could well be worth much more than Khosla’s $1.3 billion. Living Essentials’ closest comparable public company, energy drink giant Monster, trades at over 30 times earnings, making Bhargava easily a multibillionaire on paper.
7. J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter author (until 31 was single mom on a welfare)
As a single mother living in Edinburgh, Scotland, Rowling became an international literary uproar in 1999, when the first three installments of her Harry Potter children’s book series took over the top three slots of The New York Times best-seller list after achieving similar success in her native United Kingdom. The phenomenal response to Rowling’s books culminated in July 2000, when the fourth volume in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, became the fastest-selling book in history.
8. Ang Lee, film director (until 31 was jobless house husband)
Lee’s NYU thesis drew attention from the William Morris Agency, the famous talent and literary agency that later represented Lee. At first, though, WMA found Lee few opportunities, and Lee remained unemployed for six years. During this time, he was a full-time house-husband, while his wife Jane Lin, a molecular biologist, was the sole breadwinner for the family of four. This arrangement put enormous pressure on the couple, but with Lin’s support and understanding, Lee did not abandon his career in film but continued to generate new ideas from movies and performances. He also wrote several screenplays during this time.
In 1990, Lee submitted two screenplays, Pushing Hands and The Wedding Banquet, to a competition sponsored by Taiwan’s Government Information Office, and they came in first and second, respectively. The winning screenplays brought Lee to the attention of Li-Kong Hsu, a recently promoted senior manager in a major studio who had a firm attention in Lee’s unique style and freshness. Hsu, a first-time producer, invited Lee to direct Pushing Hands, a full-length feature that debuted in 1991.
He failed his college entrance exam, then emigrated to the United States and spent years as a house-husband, but filmmaker Ang Lee will be hailed a hero in Taiwan if he wins Oscar gold at Sunday’s 78th Annual Academy Awards.
9. Amancio Ortega, Zara founder (until 30 was shirt shop helper)
The youngest of four children, Ortega was born in Busdongo de Arbás, León, in Spain, and spent his childhood in León. He moved to A Coruña at the age of 14, due to the job of his father, a railway worker. Barely in his teens, Ortega found a job as a shop hand for a local shirtmaker called Gala, which still sits on the same corner in downtown A Coruña. In 1972, he founded Confecciones Goa (his initials in reverse), selling quilted bathrobes which Ortega produced using thousands of local women organized into sewing cooperatives. In 1975, he opened his first Zara store, so called because his preferred name Zorba was already taken. He opened many big Zara Stores during the eighties throughout Galicia.
Today, Zara is part of the Inditex group of which Ortega owns 59.29%, and aside from over 6,000 stores includes the brands Zara, Massimo Dutti, Oysho, Zara Home, Kiddy’s Class, Tempe, Stradivarius, Pull and Bear, Bershka and has more than 92,000 employees.
10.Andrea Bocelli, singer (until 33 was piano player at bars)
As a young boy, Bocelli showed a great passion for music. His mother has said that music was the only thing that would comfort him. At the age of six, he started piano lessons, and later, also learned to play the flute, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, guitar and drums. Then, when his nanny, Oriana, gave him the first record of Franco Corelli, he realized that pursuing the career of a tenor was his destiny. By seven, he was able to recognize the famous voices of the time and tried to emulate the great interpreters.
Andrea also spent time singing during his childhood. He gave his first concert in a small village not far from where he was born. At the age of 14, he won his first song competition, the Margherita d’Oro in Viareggio with “O sole mio”. After finishing secondary school in 1980, he studied law at the University of Pisa. To earn money, Bocelli performed evenings in piano bars.
Bocelli now has recorded fourteen solo studio albums, of both pop and classical music, three greatest hits albums, and nine complete operas, selling over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists. He has had success as a crossover performer bringing classical music to the top of international pop charts.
11. Mary Kay Ash, Mary Kay founder (until 45 sold books and home goods door-to-door)
Ash married Ben Rogers at age 17. They had three children. While her husband served in World War II, she sold books door-to-door. After her husband’s return in 1945, they divorced. Ash went to work for Stanley Home Products.
Frustrated when passed over for a promotion in favor of a man that she had trained, Ash retired in 1963 and intended to write a book to assist women in business. The book turned into a business plan for her ideal company, and in the summer of 1963, Mary Kay Ash and her new husband, George Arthur Hallenbeck, planned to start Mary Kay Cosmetics. However, one month before Ash and Hallenbeck started Beauty by Mary Kay, as the company was then called, Hallenbeck died of a heart attack. One month after Hallebeck’s death on September 13, 1963 when she was 45 years old with a $5,000 investment from her oldest son, Ben Rogers, Jr. and with her young son, Richard Rogers taking her late husband’s place, Ash started Mary Kay Cosmetics.
Ash was widely respected. She considered the Golden Rule the founding principle of Mary Kay Cosmetics and the company’s marketing plan allowed women to start from the bottom and work as high up as they would like. She advocated “praising people to success” and her slogan “God first, family second, career third” expressed her insistence that the women in her company keep their lives in good balance. Mary Kay Ash died in Dallas, Texas November 22, 2001.
12. Ray Kroc, McDonald’s founder (until 52 sold paper cups and milkshake mixers)
“If I had a brick for every time I’ve repeated the phrase Quality, Service, Cleanliness and Value, I think I’d probably be able to bridge the Atlantic Ocean with them.” —Ray Kroc
How do you create a restaurant empire and become an overnight success at the age of 52? As Ray Kroc said, “I was an overnight success all right, but 30 years is a long, long night.”
In 1917, 15-year-old Ray Kroc lied about his age to join the Red Cross as an ambulance driver, but the war ended before his training finished. He then worked as a piano player, a paper cup salesman and a multi-mixer salesman.
In 1954 he was surprised by a huge order for 8 multi-mixers from a restaurant in San Bernardino, California. There he found a small but successful restaurant run by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald, and was stunned by the effectiveness of their operation. They produced a limited menu, concentrating on just a few items—burgers, fries and beverages—which allowed them to focus on quality at every step.
Kroc pitched his vision of creating McDonald’s restaurants all over the U.S. to the brothers. In 1955 he founded the McDonald’s Corporation, and 5 years later bought the exclusive rights to the McDonald’s name. By 1958, McDonald’s had sold its 100 millionth hamburger.
For more insights on successful people visit 47 successful people you must analyze from the 19th and 20th century.
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