They came from nothing to become something. They persevered through the odds and never backed down despite all the obstacles and hurdles they had to face. In the end, their heads are unbowed because they never gave up that ultimately led to their success. These are the top ten rags to riches stories in the world.
1. Henry Ford – $188.1 billion
Henry Ford was a farm boy with limited formal education. He grew up, however, admiring all the machineries around the farm. He applied at the Detroit Edison Company where he started out as a machine shop apprentice. Eventually, he rose to become its chief engineer. By 1893, Ford was able to build his first car, though the costs were still too high. He kept thinking, until he established a moving assembly line that dramatically cut the cost of production. In 1908, the Model T began production. Around 19 years later, Ford had sold over 15 million cars. And his name has become almost synonymous to the American car.
2. Walt Disney – $5.8 billion
When he was a kid, Disney was immensely interested in the arts and would often create drawings that he would try to sell to his neighbors to earn money. He later on worked for a company called Laugh-O-Grams, which became bankrupt in a few years. Disney moved to California to start his life anew. His imagination and creation led to the opening of his first amusement park in 1955. Now, everyone wants to go to Disneyland.
3. Ralph Lauren – $5.8 billion
He was born to Russian immigrants and raised in the tough New York neighborhood of Bronx. He did not even have his own bedroom when he was growing up. Even before he became a teenager, he was already working to earn extra money. He had great taste for clothes, and he believed in himself, so much so that he took out a $50,000 loan to launch his own brand. Now, Ralph Lauren has a well-known brand. He also has a massive collection of fancy cars.
4. Steve Jobs – $5.7 billion
He was an adopted child, and he did not finish school because he could not afford the tuition. He then started his company in his parents’ garage. That company is Apple, and because of him, the world has continuously been treated to a stream of useful, friendly, cool and groundbreaking products. From the 1984 Macintosh, to the iBook clamshell notebooks, to the iPod portable mp3 player, to the current versions of MacBooks, the iPad tablets and the iPhone smartphones, the world certainly owes Steve Jobs a favor.
5. Richard Branson – $4.2 billion
His family was not poor and he was sent to good schools, but Branson never particularly liked it. Later on, he was diagnosed with dyslexia, which probably explained his poor performance in school. He did well in business, however, setting up his own magazine when he was 16. He then set up an audio record mail order business in 1970. Two years later, it had grown so fast that he was able to establish a chain of actual physical record stores. Virgin Records eventually became Virgin Megastores. By the 1980s, Branson’s Virgin brand had grown so huge that he was able to set up an airline called Virgin Atlantic Airways. He also expanded the Virgin music label.
6. John Paul Dejoria – $4.2 billion
He was born to mixed Italian and Greek families, and his parents divorced when he was still young. He was selling newspapers and Christmas cards when he was nine to help earn extra money. Not long after, he was sent to a foster home. He then joined a gang in East Los Angeles. Fortunately, he got out of the gang when he joined the Navy. He fathered a child, though he was not yet ready to support a family. Dejoria was homeless twice during this period, and he made ends meet by collecting cans and selling them as scrap. Finally, his life turned out for the better when he put up $700 that enabled him and his friend to establish a business. That friend and business are named Paul Mitchell, and the company is now worth billions today.
7. Oprah Winfrey – $2.7 billion
Born to teenage parents, Oprah was raised by her grandmother until the age of six. She then went to live with her mother in Milwaukee where she became an excellent student. Oprah was a rebellious child however, and ran away from home. She then persevered until she became a popular radio host. From there, she became a news anchor before becoming a television host. Her talk show was a runaway success, and Oprah now even has her own channel and magazine.
8. J.K. Rowling – $1 billion
She discovered her love for fantasy stories as early as her school days. A series of unfortunate events, however, led to Rowling becoming suicidal and clinically depressed. She was unemployed and surviving on welfare. She dealt with it by writing, often going to different cafes to finish her novel. She finished six more of it, and the Harry Potter series has transformed her into a billionaire.
9. Daymond John – $100 million
John was raised in a tough part of Queens in New York. Her single mother had to work two to three jobs per day just to make them survive. This strong work ethic rubbed off on John and he was able to identify good business prospects even at a young age. When hip hop started becoming popular and getting accepted into the mainstream, John established FuBu, meaning For Us, By Us with an initial investment of $40. The clothing company is now worth over a billion dollars.
10. Chris Gardner – $60 million
Gardner had a tough childhood as his stepfather chased him out of his home. After serving in the Navy, Gardner married and had a son. His wife left him and his son however, and they were homeless for a while. He then thought of becoming a stockbroker after seeing one driving an expensive sports car. He studied, got his license, worked in Bear Sterns, and started making money. Just a few years after being homeless, Gardner was able to buy his own house. He then started his own stockbrokerage company, and he is now CEO of Gardner Rich and Company.