Top 10 Rags-To-Riches Success Stories Of All Time

They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. These inspiring figures had less than a lemon to start out with – and are now known for their sheer tenacity as they climbed to the top.

I bring you the top 10 rags-to-riches success stories of all time.

1. Henry Ford

Rags To Riches Stories-Henry Ford

Henry Ford was a farm boy who went on to revolutionize transportation industry in America. Ford was very interested in mechanics from a young age, when he dismantled and reassembled a pocket watch at the age of 15 his father had given him. A self-taught watch repairman who graduated to being an apprentice machinist, Ford started his personal experiments on gasoline engines which was the beginning of his vast Ford empire. And his net worth, as per Forbes in 2008, is a cool $188.1 billion.

2. Walt Disney

Rags To Riches Stories-Walt Disney

Our childhood would have been dreary without this genius of a man. Walt Disney was also another boy brought up in a farm – and used to draw pictures for his neighbors for money. He used to be the cartoonist for the school newspaper, Disney went through the jobless phase where no one hired him, and his brother had to help him out with his job search. He went from rags to riches by starting out with advertisements and going on to animating his own cartoons.

3. Ralph Lauren

Rags To Riches Stories-Ralph Lauren

Born in a strict Jewish family with a house painter for a father, Ralph Lauren grew up with big dreams. He used to sell ties to his classmates to earn some cash, and he mentioned in his yearbook that he wanted to be a millionaire. His interest in ties went on help his put his foot through the door of bigger achievements in the fashion world. When he was signed on to design the clothes for ‘The Great Gatsby’ in 1974, he was catapulted into the fame which he commands today.

4. Steve Jobs

Rags To Riches Stories-Steve Jobs

This Apple founder is now a household name. Jobs was given away for adoption by his biological parents and he became interested in electronics after his foster dad showed him the joys of technical tinkering in their garage. He had to drop out of college, because his education was costing his foster parents a lot. He used to return Coke bottles for money and live on free meals at the Hare Krishna temple. A hippie who used to trip on LSD, Jobs went from a technician in Atari, Inc. to becoming the CEO of Apple Inc.

5. Richard Branson

Rags To Riches Stories-Richard Branson

Branson went from being a dyslexic kid who performed badly in school to a British business magnate with a net worth of 4.6 billion. There was a time when Richard Branson started his record business from the crypt of a church – and now he is the fourth richest citizen of the UK. This entrepreneur is an example of how one can be eccentric and yet rake in the moolah. He had his finger in many pies – record label, airways and telecom.

6. John Paul DeJoria

Rags To Riches Stories-John-Paul-DeJoria

Born to Italian and Greek immigrant parents, this billionaire had to sell newspapers when he was nine to support his family. He has lived in a foster home, been part of a street gang and jumped through a number of jobs. With a loan of $700, he began what is now known the world over as the Paul Mitchell line of hair products. He went on to own 70% of The Patron Spirits Company, the world’s ultra-premium tequila brand. If this is not a rags-to-riches story, we do not know what is.

7. Oprah Winfrey

Rags To Riches Stories-Oprah Winfrey

Born to a housemaid and a coalminer, Oprah definitely did not grow in the lap of luxury. Living the life of poverty, where she used to have to wear dresses made out of potato sacks and was molested by relatives. She entered the world of media after getting the job of a news-reader in a local black radio station. After she got her first talk-show in Chicago, there was no looking back for this TV personality.

8. J.K. Rowling

Rags To Riches Stories-J.K. Rowling

Born in a lowly English family, Rowling battled depression, suicidal tendencies and poverty to become one of the most loved British authors in the world for her hugely popular Harry Potter series. Highly imaginative as a kid who thrived on stories, she drew from her surroundings and the people in her life as inspirations for the books which have now become one of the biggest movie franchises. From her humble beginnings, she has gone on to become one of the most powerful women in the United Kingdom.

9. Daymond John

Rags To Riches Stories-Daymond John

A black boy growing up in Queens – one would not have pegged John as a potential entrepreneur who would go on to become the CEO of the hip-hop clothing brand FUBU. But that he did, with an entrepreneurial instinct that he honed from his school days. Selling popular wool hats at half their market price, he mortgaged their house for future business expansion. It paid off well – and he now is one of the most influential motivational speakers in America.

10. Chris Gardner

Rags To Riches Stories-Chris Gardner

This is the man whose life has inspired the Will Smith-starrer ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’. Physically abused by his stepfather as a child and placed in a foster home, Gardner’s woes did not leave him even as he grew up to marry and be a father. As shown in the movie, Gardner struggled with homelessness while raising his kid. It was the strength of the lessons he learnt from his mother that he went from rags to riches by tenaciously building himself to be the CEO of his own stockbrokerage firm, Gardner Rich & Co.

There is no disadvantage these personalities did not suffer on their journey from birth to where they stand today – but sheer tenacity, confidence and hard work led them to the inspiring figures they are today.


Microsoft CEO Ballmer to retire within 12 months

New York: Microsoft Corp chief executive Steve Ballmer unexpectedly announced his retirement on Friday, ending a controversial 13-year reign at the head of the world’s largest software company and sending the company’s shares up 7.1 per cent.

Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer

Ballmer, 57, took over from co-founder Bill Gates in January 2000, but his leadership was questioned throughout his tenure by Wall Street and Silicon Valley, as Microsoft’s stock price floundered and the PC-centric pioneer was overtaken by Apple Inc and Google Inc in the shift towards mobile computing.

Ballmer’s planned exit comes shortly after activist investing fund ValueAct Capital Management LP took a small stake in the company, and started agitating for a change in strategy and a clear CEO succession plan.

Only last month Ballmer launched a massive reorganization to reshape Microsoft into a company focused on devices and services, essentially mimicking Apple, leaving most industry watchers nonplussed.

“My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company,” said Ballmer in a statement. “We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”

Although Ballmer has faced criticism for some time, his decision to retire surprised analysts.

“Yes, this was a surprise, especially considering how close it is to the recently announced strategic overhaul towards devices and services,” said Sid Parakh, an analyst at McAdams Wright Ragen.

Ballmer is to retire within the next 12 months, once a special committee has selected a new CEO.

The committee is to be chaired by John Thompson, the board’s lead independent director, and includes Microsoft co-founder and chairman Bill Gates, as well as other board members Chuck Noski and Steve Luczo.

It will consider both external and internal candidates and work with executive recruiting firm Heidrick & Struggles International Inc, according to Microsoft.

Its shares rose 7.1 per cent to $34.69 on Nasdaq.

Manning apologizes, says he ‘hurt the United States’

Pfc. Bradley Manning told a military judge during his sentencing hearing Wednesday that he is sorry he hurt the United States by leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive military and diplomatic documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks and he asked for leniency.

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning leaving a military court facility in July

“I’m sorry I hurt people. I’m sorry that I hurt the United States,” said Manning, who was convicted last month of multiple crimes, including violations of the Espionage Act, for turning over the classified material. “I’m apologizing for the unintended consequences of my actions. I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people.”

The former Army intelligence analyst, who served at a forward operating base in Iraq, had not previously expressed regret for his actions, and during trial had justified the leak as necessary to spark a debate about the nation’s preoccupation with “killing and capturing people.”

Speaking publicly for only the third time since he was arrested in Iraq in June 2010, Manning said he had been naive. “I look back at my decisions and wonder, ‘How on earth could I, a junior analyst, possibly believe I could change the world for the better over the decisions of those with the proper authority?’” said Manning, who spoke for less than five minutes, often in a quavering voice.

Manning, 25, elected to be tried and sentenced by a judge, not a military jury, and Judge Denise Lind, an Army colonel, will determine his sentence. He faces up to 90 years in prison.

Manning told Lind in an unsworn statement that he understood he would have to “pay a price for my decisions and actions,” but hoped that he would one day be able to attend college and have a meaningful relationship with his sister and her family.

“I know I can and will be a better person,” he said. “I can return to a productive place in society . . . I have flaws and issues that I have to deal with, but I know that I can and will be a better person. I hope that you can give me the opportunity to prove, not through words, but through conduct, that I am a good person and that I can return to a productive place in society.”

Manning’s defense team has presented witnesses in the sentencing phase of the trial at Fort Meade to make the argument that Manning’s psychological problems should have led the military to remove him from Iraq. And they hope the judge will consider that as a mitigating factor when she sentences him.

Earlier Wednesday, Manning’s older sister, Casey Manning Major, described a bleak upbringing in Crescent, Okla. She said she was Manning’s principal caregiver when she was only 11 because both of their parents were alcoholics. As a girl, Major said she would wake up to her brother’s cries, make a bottle for him, rock him and put him back to sleep.

She described one incident in which her brother sat in the back seat with his mother as they were driven to the hospital to make sure she was still breathing after she tried to kill herself with an overdose of Valium.

A Navy psychiatrist, Capt. David Moulton, testified Wednesday that Manning’s facial features were indicative of someone who was exposed to alcohol in the womb and he exhibited other symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome. Major said her mother drank continuously when she was pregnant with her brother.

Debra Van Alstyne, Manning’s aunt, said she hoped the judge would consider her nephew’s “very hard start to life. He’s a good person. He cares about people. He thought he was doing the right thing at a time when he was really not thinking clearly.”

An Army psychologist said that Manning was under intense pressure while serving in Iraq because he was coping with a gender identity disorder in the “hyper-masculine environment” of a war zone. Manning e-mailed the therapist, Capt. Michael Worsley, a photo of himself wearing a blond wig and lipstick, which he also sent to one of his superiors in Baghdad.

In the e-mail, Manning said he was “haunted” by what he called “my problem.”

Moulton said that Manning’s identity issues, in combination with his isolation, narcissism and idealism, may have led him to believe that leaking the documents was the right thing to do.

“He became very enthralled with this idea that the things that he was finding were injustices that he felt he morally needed to right,” said Moulton, who spent 21 hours interviewing Manning at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Edward Snowden, patriot

President Obama’s news conference on Aug 9 was weird…

Binyamin Appelbaum, an economics reporter for the New York Times, summed it up sharply on Twitter: “Obama is really mad at Edward Snowden for forcing us patriots to have this critically important conversation.”

Edward Snowden

Obama began the news conference by announcing a series of reforms meant to increase the transparency of, and the constraints on, the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. They included reforms to Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which enables the collection of telephone metadata; changes to the powerful surveillance courts to ensure ”that the government’s position is challenged by an adversary”; declassification of key NSA documents; and the formation of “a high-level group of outside experts to review our entire intelligence and communications technologies.”

“What makes us different from other countries is not simply our ability to secure our nation,” Obama said. “It’s the way we do it, with open debate and democratic process.”

If that’s so, then Edward Snowden should be hailed as a hero. There’s simply no doubt that his leaks led to more open debate and more democratic process than would’ve existed otherwise.Obama reluctantly admitted as much. “There’s no doubt that Mr. Snowden’s leaks triggered a much more rapid and passionate response than would have been the case if I had simply appointed this review board,” he said, though he also argued that absent Snowden, “we would have gotten to the same place, and we would have done so without putting at risk our national security and some very vital ways that we are able to get intelligence that we need to secure the country.”

As Tim Lee writes, this is dubious at best. Prior to Snowden’s remarks, there was little public debate — in part because the federal government was preventing it.

When Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked for a “ballpark figure” of the number of Americans whose information was being collected by the NSA last year, the agency refused to give the senator any information, arguing that doing so would violate the privacy of those whose information was collected.

In March, at a Congressional hearing, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper answered “no sir” when Wyden asked whether the NSA had collected “any type of data at all on millions of Americans.” We now know his statement was incorrect.

That was the state of the debate prior to Snowden: The Director of National Intelligence went before Congress, was given an opportunity to give the American people a clear and balanced picture on some of these programs, and basically lied. And no one from the Obama administration came out that day, or the next day, or the next week, to correct the record. It was only after Snowden’s leak that Clapper apologized.

Obama allowed that “those who have lawfully raised their voices on behalf of privacy and civil liberties are also patriots who love our country and want it to live up to our highest ideals.” But most all of those people would say Snowden strengthened their hand immeasurably.

Obama’s frustration with Snowden is that he interrupted what could have been “a lawful, orderly examination of these laws; a thoughtful, fact-based debate.” The White House believes Snowden’s leaks — and the drip-drip-drip way the Guardian released them — left the public misinformed. And at times, that’s certainly true. The initial reports on PRISM, for instance, clearly suggested that the program was wider in scope than it actually is.

But the White House could have led that thoughtful, fact-based debate, and despite Obama’s protestations to the contrary, they didn’t. They prevented it. If this conversation, and these reforms, are as positive for the country as Obama says they are, then it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Snowden did the country a real service — even if the White House can’t abide crediting him with it.