It’s fair to say that if you live a life of luxury where you can live in a mansion, drive flashy cars and have people wait on you hand and foot that you’re better of being born into wealth. It’s true that most of the wealthiest people in the world were born into a life of luxury although some of them had to overcome hard beginnings to help motivate them to succeed. The people below know the value of hard work and have taken the initiative to pull themselves out of the hardships they had to endured to be some of the most influential figures of today.

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1.) Ursula Burns- Burns grew up in a single parent household in the public housing projects in the rough and violent neighborhood of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Needless to say she grew up impoverished and attended Cathedral High School which her mother paid for by running a daycare center and ironing shirts. Feeling dissatisfied with her career options at the time after high school which were nurse, nun and teacher she attended the Polytechnic Institute of NYU where she earned her degree in mechanical engineering and later on her masters in Columbia University a year later. She interned at Xerox in the summer of 1980 and worked there full time later. She remained with the company till this day and has working in the different engineering departments transitioning through a management position eventually moving the ranks to become CEO of Xerox and being the first black women to make it in the Forbes 500 and the 22nd most powerful women in the world.

 

2.) Doimgres Won Chang- Don Won Chang was a South Korean citizen who moved to the U.S with his wife Jin in 1981. Having just a high school education he worked at a coffee shop, gas station and started a small office cleaning business. One day he noticed how business owners in the garment industry made drove fancy cars so he decided to work at a clothing store where he learned how the business worked. Within 3 years he saved $11,000 and opened his first store in LA calling it Fashion 21 and within a year made $700,000 in sales. The business eventually grew to become Forever 21 and has 790 stores opened in 48 countries. Chang’s net worth is currently $2.8 billion.

Photo:http://www.slate.com/id/2299358/

3.) Chris Gardner- Entrepreneur and motivational speaker, Gardner had a very unhappy childhood with an absent father, an abusive step father and a mother who was imprisoned twice because of his step father’s actions. He lacked a lot of positive role models in his life and joined the Navy where he picked up some medical skills eventually running his own lab but got paid a meager salary and so he became a medical equipment salesmen. Some time later he had a family and at first wanted to pursue a career as a physician but changed his mind when he met a man in a red Ferrari named Bob Bridges a succeimgresssful stock broker who mentored Gardner and eventually Gardner went on his way into becoming a stock broker. Times were tough however has he moved between different training firms but he had to subsist on his earnings as a sales men and he eventually had to deal with being homeless and broke before he was hired full time by San Francisco-based ‘Bear Stearns & Company. He then started his own business venture Gardner Rich & Co owning all the stakes and the business became a success. He later sold his stake to start an even larger firm ‘Christopher Gardner International Holdings’ having branches in 3 major cities. The movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” starring Will Smith was based on his life story.

 

4.) Roman Abramovich- Roman Abramovich was born into poverty in Saratov, Soviet Russia in 1966. He became an orphan by age 4 and drifted between living in a orphanage and being taken care by his relatives in the industrial town of Uktha. After some time he attended a industrial institute then served in the Soviet army where he first began his business of exporting oil through imgrescontroversial deals in the 1990’s. His business activities allowed him to grow his wealth and with his wife they opened a company that made dolls and over time his business interest diversified from ventures like pig farming to oil conglomerates. He’s also started 5 other companies and liquidated 20 other businesses. He officially entered the oil industry and partnered with a former associate of the first Russian Federation president Boris Berezovsky in the mid 1990’s in which they both acquired controlling interest in Russian oil giant Sibneft. Ten years later he sold the company to the state run gas giant Gazprom for $13 billion. Since then he’s accumulated a vast amount of wealth and even held a position as governor of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug an impoverish area. He also owns the world’s largest yacht and is currently the owner of the very popular English football team  Chelsea FC.

 

5.) Howard Schultz- Before becoming CEO of Starbucks, Howard grew up in the Bayview housing projects in Canarsie. His athleimgrestic ability helped earned him a scholarship where he attended Northern Michigan University in 1970 and graduated in 1975 with a degree in communications. He later got a job selling European coffee makers in America which is how he took noticed of Starbucks which was back than a coffee bean supplier store. When visited the establishment and met with the owners it was then and there that he decided he wanted to be apart of it and so a year later he was hired to be the director of retail operations and marketing. He proposed the idea of Starbucks being a coffee maker after being inspired by the coffee shops he saw in a trip to Italy too an idea the owners did not share even though they allowed him to start a small coffees shop within the store that became successful. He started II Gionarle which grew successful as well and eventually he was able to buy the Starbucks store in Seattle and merge it with his current store and kept the original Starbucks name and became it’s first CEO. Since then he has been included in the Forbes 400 list more then once and is number 931 according to Forbes as the top most influential billionaires worldwide. The store currently has 24,464 stores operating in 39 countries and right now is the top seller of coffee worldwide.