5 Rags To Riches Stories You Might Not Have Heard

As far as inspiring stories go, there is nothing quite like a great rags to riches story. In a world where there are so many people that have an easy start, it's great to see individuals become successful when they had to really work hard at it. These stories have been turned into movies and books, and fill us with the hope that anyone can do just about whatever they want to with their lives.

Those stories of people who didn't have two pennies to rub together, but are now millionaires and billionaires, are rare but real. It should also light a bit of a fire under those with more privileged backgrounds. If people who have to fight for everything can find greatness, imagine what can be done with the advantage of a middle or upper-middle class background. Economy aside, sheer force of will is a huge factor in how our lives progress.

While we have all heard of the great rags to riches stories of celebrities like Oprah, 5o Cent, Eminem, and  J.K. Rowling, there are others out there who have created amazing success for themselves, but have chosen to opt out of the celebrity lifestyle.

Here in this article we will profile some of the most inspiring rags to riches stories that you may not have even heard of. Every individual on this list has overcome the odds to achieve the massive success they enjoy today. These are some of the most inspiring peoplethat you may never have even known existed.


5 Ursula Burns

Chairman And CEO Of Xerox

Ursula Burns started out in a very difficult position. She was raised by her single mother, who ran a daycare out of their apartment in the housing projects in an effort to make more money. One of the most terrifying events of Burns' childhood happened when she was just three-years-old. A group of teenagers in her housing project decided to shoot and kill a 76 year old man for just $2.60. This was the environment that Ursula was raised in, but she was determined to not let this define who she was going to be.

From an early age, even in the housing projects amid half demolished buildings, Burns knew that education was her way out. Burns knew that she wanted to become an engineer from a very early age. She took this passion with her all the way through graduate school at Columbia University. She started her career at Xerox in 1980 as an intern. She quickly worked her way up to oversee the engineering department.

Burns continued to rise to the top of the company, quite literally. She soon became the first Female CEO of Xerox, in a time when that was close to being unheard of. Burns' story shows us that no matter where you come from, you can make an amazing life for yourself.

4 Li Ka-Shing


Hong Kong Business Mogul

The story of Li Ka-Shing is an inspirational one indeed. Ka-Shing started his life at the age of 14 in a plastics factory to support his family. He was forced to drop out of school when his father died from tuberculosis.

This isn't the dream of any young teenager, to have to leave the life of school and friends, and be stuck in a plastic factory making watch bands for 16 hours straight. At times in order to eat, the family had to sell off the fathers left over clothes. Ka-Shing continued to work in the plastics factory, as that was the only way his family would be able to survive.

When Ka-Shing was 22 he decided it was time to make a change. He saved up enough money to start his own plastics company. His first big hit: plastic flowers, which he mainly sold to customers in Italy. With this first success he grew his plastics company and expanded his business ventures at a rapid rate.

Now Ka-Shing is one of the richest men in Asia. He has his hand in many different business ventures, and he is the largest controller of transport containers in Asia. His story shows us that even if you have a job you hate now, you can get rid of that job and live a life you know you deserve if you just take action.

3 Do Won Chang

Creator And Founder Of Forever 21

Anyone who has gone to a major shopping mall in the last five years probably knows about the ever-popular store forever 21. What they probably do not know is the rags to riches story of the man who created this store, Do Won Chang. When Chang first moved to America with his wife, he did whatever it took to survive. He worked as a gas station attendant, janitor, and in a coffee shop. The amazing thing is that he had all three of these jobs at the same time! Times were tough, but Chang was committed to making his dreams come true for him and his wife.

When he saved up enough money, he started the store Fashion 21. It began doing well, he changed the name to Forever 21, and now the company has 480 stores worldwide, and revenues of $3 billion. Chang has an estimated net worth now of $4 billion. That is quite a bit better than the days of pumping gas and cleaning up messes as a janitor.

2 John Paul DeJoria


Creator And Founder Of Paul Mitchell

John Paul DeJoria's road to success began with an has an amazing story of sacrifice. When he decided to start Paul Mitchell with his friend, a hairdresser, they only had $700 to start with. They didn't even have the money to print color labels on their shampoo bottles, so they had to settle with printing black and white labels. They were  unable to get any investors or loans to start their business, so they were forced to build their business with all of their own money.

At this same time, DeJoria had been kicked out of his house by his first wife. He had to send his two year old son to live with friends, as he was now forced to live out of his car. John says he had to live off of $2.50 a day. With only a hope and a prayer, the team of two took their shampoo to different salons to try and sell their product. Dejoria is probably so happy that he took the time to sacrifice in the early days and start a business, because now he is worth $4 billion.

1 Les Brown

Famous Author And Motivational Speaker

Les Brown is one of the most well known and loved authors and public speakers in the field of motivation and inspiration. He has spoken in front of audiences of thousands and sold books all over the world. His words have touched people from all walks of life, motivating them to follow their dreams - but he had his own difficulties on his way up.

Les Brown's story starts in the projects of Miami, Florida, where he was born in an abandoned building. His birth mother went crying to her neighbor, Mamie Brown, and begged her to adopt her baby. Brown accepted this baby into her arms and into her heart and, though she didn't have the best education, she did the best she could to provide for her children with a job as a cafeteria assistant.

Les Brown's problems weren't just about money either. The school systems labeled him"educably mentally retarded." Fortunately, Brown and his family paid that no heed. With the help of an encouraging high school teacher, he graduated from high school and went on to get a job as a radio DJ.

Brown has gone on to be one of the worlds most popular motivational speakers, always telling people, "If I could make it, anyone could make it." He uses his story of early struggles to show people that you can come from the lowest of spots, and truly live a full and productive life. Les Brown is estimated to be worth anywhere from $15 to $25 million. Not an insignificant jump from being born in an abandoned building in the projects.

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