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Inspiring Rags To Riches Stories

Photo by Georges Biard // CC BY-SA 4.0

Caption: Hollywood stars such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Leonardo Di Caprio have come from humble beginnings

Often when we think about the people who have millions in the bank and little to worry about in the way of debt, it’s tempting to believe that they can only have achieved such wealth with a helping hand and privileged background. It’s not an unfair assumption to make. There are wealthy dynasties and plenty of rich people who inherited wealth.

Yet inheritance could be overrated as a factor of wealth. In 1984, less than half of those on the Forbes 400 list were self-made, whereas in 2018 67% are self-made. Those who inherit wealth are also more likely to squander it.

Assuming that wealth can only be inherited sends out a negative message to those who want to pursue their dreams. The message says, “You cannot do it, it is impossible for you”.

In reality, we have to acknowledge that circumstances are a key factor. Those from underprivileged backgrounds often lack access to education or to the platform they need to showcase their talent. Yet people from all walks of life have made it happen. It is possible to turn your passion into profit. Here are a few rags to riches stories that can inspire you to follow your heart.

Business Sense

Business is an area that can seem accessible only to the already-wealthy, but this is not true. Many of the great entrepreneurs of our era have their own rags to riches story to tell.

Steve Jobs was born to working class parents who struggled to support him. He was later taken in by another couple, Paul and Clara Jobs. With no formal eduction, Jobs’ intellect and love of computers got him a job at Atari. He later created the first Apple machine with Steve Wozniak, and the pair found funding from Intel. Jobs was worth $10 billion before he passed away.

Next up is a semi-pro player who turned the world on to poker. Chris Moneymaker was from a fairly academic background and was working hard as an accountant. He was also a decent poker player looking to build his bankroll when he won an $86 satellite to gain entry to the WSOP Main Event, the biggest event in poker. Needless to say, Moneymaker went on to win the top prize for $2.5 million. His victory inspired millions to take up poker, and he has now been selected for the Hall of Fame.

Leonardo Del Vecchio’s is the classic story of grinding up from the bottom. He grew up to a widowed mother, and took up work making glasses moulds at a factory. Here he lost a finger in an accident. At age 23, he opened his own mould factory, Luxottica, which now manufactures brands such as Ray-Bans and Oakley. Del Vecchio is worth $21.2 billion.

Plight of the Artist

Photo by S.macken6 // CC BY 4.0

Caption: JK Rowling is an incredible example of rags to riches

The plight of the artist is perhaps the archetypal journey that most can relate to. The true artist is wrapped up in expression, yet often not in selling. A career in art is a slow-burner to say the least. Money doesn’t come easily, and part-time jobs are often the only way a musician or writer can stay afloat.

Ed Sheeran, now one of the most popular musicians who regularly sells out stadium tours, dropped out of school at 16 and started busking in the London Underground. He often slept rough, and lived far from a comfortable life before he was scouted by Jamie Foxx. His single ‘The A Team’ is actually based on a street girl that he met playing a gig at a homeless shelter. Sheeran’s net worth is now over $110 million.

JK Rowling is another well known example of the broke artist who made it big. Really big. Rowling was a single mother struggling to make ends meet. She was nearly homeless and relying on government support when she wrote Harry Potter. The story apparently came to her in a dream, but still must have been a nightmare to write.

Oprah Winfrey was born to a teenage single mum, and suffered horrific abuse throughout her early years. She still managed to excel at school, gain a college scholarship and gain employment as a radio host and then news anchor. At 30, she became the first black woman to have her own talk show. Oprah is now worth $2.7 billion.