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Inspirers

Akio Morita

Magnetic tape

Akio Morita Notable for

Co-founding Sony.
First listing of Japanese company on New York Stock Exchange.
Recognizing in 1966 that school records were irrelevant to real-world success (book: Never Mind School Records).

Origin

Upper middle class (family-owned food & beverage company).

Ignition

Borrowed $500 to start a radio-repair business with former navy colleague in bombed-out department store.

Achievement

~$1B

Quotes

Don't be afraid to make a mistake. But make sure you don't make the same mistake twice.
The important thing in my view is not to pin the blame for a mistake on somebody, but rather to find out what caused the mistake.

Biography Wikipedia

Chris Gardner

Brokerage

Chris Gardner Notable for

Massive swings across classes (well-off to penniless to multimillionaire).
Ended up homeless with his son.

Origin

Dysfunctional family; abusive father and incarcerated mother.

Ignition

Sustained cold-calling.

Achievement

Homeless to rich & famous.

Quotes

"You can only depend on yourself. The cavalry ain't coming." - His mother

Biography Wikipedia

Chung Ju-yung

Construction

Chung Ju-yung Notable for

Tried 3 times to run away from home, and succeeded on 4th attempt.
11 children.
Transporting 1001 cows to North Korea as a gift.

Origin

Subsistence farmer's son in Japanese-ruled Korea.

Ignition

Building construction company, that rose to high reputation during post Korean war reconstruction.

Achievement

Zero to $60B.
Leading role in South Korea GDP/capita going from $67 in 1953 to current levels around $28,180 (2014)

Biography Wikipedia

Dominic McVey

Scooter retail

Dominic McVey Notable for

Started business at 13, millionaire by 15.
Bought first class flight at 14 to check out business opportunities.

Origin

Middle class.

Ignition

Wanted a scooter, saw he could make a profit from selling them, started importing micro-scooters from US into UK.

Achievement

Millionaire by 15.

Quotes

The deputy head hated me. He would walk round the school saying: Boy! Why are you smiling? "Because I have just sold 10,000 scooters", I said. I also used to say: "School should be a happy environment", but he would say: "No, it's not, you're here to learn."

Biography Wikipedia

Felix Dennis

Publishing

Felix Dennis Notable for

Having 14 mistresses.

Origin

Poor family.

Ignition

Publishing the magazine Personal Computer World

Achievement

Reached $1B and lived like a king.

Quotes

Never retreat. Never explain. Get it done and let them howl.

Biography Wikipedia

Gurbaksh Chahal

Online advertising

Gurbaksh Chahal Notable for

Dropping out of school at 16 to start online advertising company.
Launching 4 different online advertising companies.

Ignition

Selling first advertising company in 2000 at 18 for $40M.

Achievement

$200M at 35

Wikipedia

John D Rockefeller

Oil refining

John D Rockefeller Notable for

Becoming the richest man who ever lived.
Controlling 90% of world oil refining.
Bringing oil-based products within the reach of the common man, by bringing down the price of kerosene 80% over the lifetime of his company.
Massive philanthropy that eradicated hookwork & yellow fever in the US, and founded several universities.

Origin

Poor family.
Son of an absentee con-artist father.

Ignition

Opening an oil refinery at 24, motivated by observing excessive oil production.

Achievement

$392B

Quotes

If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.
I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.
I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.

Biography Wikipedia

Jonathan Koon

Car parts

Jonathan Koon Notable for

Self-made millionaire at 16.

Origin

Middle class Hong Kong immigrant family.

Ignition

Importing car tuning accessories while in high school.

Achievement

$80M

Wikipedia

Larry Ellison

Databases

Larry Ellison Notable for

Buying his own island.

Origin

Adopted child. Sired by Air Force pilot and then given away by mother when he contracted pneumonia at 9 months old.

Ignition

Read a paper on relational databases, and discovered no one else was commercially pursuing it.

Achievement

$62B

Quotes

I have had all the disadvantages required for success.
I am so disturbed by kids who spend all day playing video games.

Wikipedia

Li Ka-shing

Plastic flowers

Li Ka-shing Notable for

Richest man in Asia.
Left school at 15.

Origin

Mainland China refugee family in Hong Kong.

Ignition

Rich: building his factory into the leading supplier of plastic flowers.
Super-rich: Investing heavily in real estate following the 1967 Hong Kong leftist riots.

Achievement

$38B

Quotes

The first year, as I didn't have much capital, I did everything myself, which kept my overhead low.
I wasn't lucky. I worked hard to achieve the goals I set for myself.

Wikipedia

Masayoshi Son

Software distribution

Masayoshi Son Notable for

Flew to Tokyo at 16 to demand a meeting with founder of McDonald's Japan, after phone requests for meeting constantly rejected by his assistants.
Made more than $1M twice (two separate business plays) whilst at university in the US.
Went on to become the richest man in Japan.
Biggest investment loss ever recorded ($70B in 2000 crash).

Origin

Zainichi Korean (effectively, 2nd class citizen while growing up).

Ignition

Inventing the first electronic dictionary while at university and selling it to Sharp for $1.7M.

Achievement

Biggest investment gain ever made (Alibaba).
$22B

Quotes

I'm a man, and I think every man wants to be No. 1.
Do not give up. At that point growth stops.
The world is wide. Endlessly wide. So it is interesting.

Wikipedia

Sam Zemurray

Bananas

Sam Zemurray Notable for

Overthrowing the Honduran government for business purposes.
Returning from retirement to oust the board of directors of the company that acquired his.
Largely responsible for the phrase "banana republic".

Origin

Poor Moldovan immigrant to Alabama

Ignition

Saved ~$4000 by 18, and used it to purchase a pile of ripe bananas and rent a boxcart to ship them inland for sale.

Achievement

Made $2.8M by 21.
Reached a net worth of $250M.

Quotes

You're fired! Can you understand that, Mr. Chairman? You gentlemen have been fucking up this business long enough. I'm going to straighten it out.

Biography Wikipedia

Sylvester Stallone

Actor

Sylvester Stallone Notable for

An impoverished nobody who became a rich famous actor from pure tenacity.
Selling his beloved dog because he couldn't afford to feed it.
Sleeping in a bus terminal for 3 weeks.
Rambo and Rocky movie series.

Origin

Born with complications resulting in partial face paralysis.

Ignition

Writing a script for a boxing movie, and then going door-to-door until finding someone who would both produce the movie and let him star in it.

Achievement

$0 to $400 million & famous movie star.

Quotes

I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat.
I have great expectations for the future, because the past was highly overrated.

Wikipedia

Terry Gou

Electronics

Terry Gou Notable for

Founded worlds largest contract manufacturer of electronics.
Started factory at 24 with $37k capital.

Origin

Mainland China refugee family in Taiwan.

Ignition

Won contract with Atari in 1980 to make console joystick.

Achievement

Rubber factory worker to $10B

Wikipedia

Arnold Schwarznegger

Bodybuilding

Arnold Schwarznegger Notable for

Becoming the archetype of macho.
Being the Governator.

Origin

Strict Austrian family.

Ignition

Winning weightlifting competitions at 17.

Achievement

Winning Mr Olympia 7 times in a row.
$300M.
Movie star & household name.
Governorship of California.

Wikipedia

Bill Gates

Operating system

Bill Gates Notable for

Developing the operating system that runs on 88% of the worlds computers.

Origin

Middle class.

Ignition

Dropped out of college to start a software business.

Achievement

$90B

Wikipedia

Richard Branson

Records

Richard Branson Notable for

Owning his own island.

Origin

Middle class.

Ignition

Opened a record store.

Achievement

$5.1B

Wikipedia

Elon Musk

E-commerce

Elon Musk Notable for

Making & selling a video game at 12 to a magazine company for $500.

Origin

Middle-class South African immigrant to North America

Ignition

Making and selling a web directory service before tech bubble burst.

Achievement

Worth $20B.
Had 5 children and married a famous actress.
Built rockets that land themselves after launch.

Wikipedia

Donald Trump

Real estate

Donald Trump Notable for

First man to win US presidency without prior state employment.

Origin

Upper class.

Ignition

None. Inherited, and maintained/grew.

Achievement

$3B (father: $300M).
Married models & beauty queens.
Won Presidency of US.

Wikipedia

Andrew Carnegie

Steel

Andrew Carnegie Notable for

Known as the steel king of America

Origin

Poor family, working 70 hour weeks as a child for $36/week.

Ignition

None. Slow burn hard work, investment, and reinvestment of income.

Achievement

$372B

Quotes

As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.
The way to become rich is to put all your eggs in one basket and then watch that basket.
The first man gets the oyster, the second man gets the shell.
You cannot push any one up a ladder unless he be willing to climb a little himself.
He that cannot reason is a fool. He that will not is a bigot. He that dare not is a slave.

Wikipedia

Charles Dickens

Writing

Charles Dickens Notable for

Greatest novelist of the Victorian era

Origin

Poor family, father in debtors prison, working in factories as a child.

Ignition

None. Slowly accumulating success and reputation in his literary works.

Achievement

$6M
World famous writer

Wikipedia

Gene Simmons

Rock music

Gene Simmons Notable for

Co-founding the band Kiss, which reached 75M worldwide album sales

Origin

Poor Hungarian-Israeli family.

Ignition

Decided to form the ultimate rock band.

Achievement

$300M
Massive sexual liberty

Wikipedia

Jack Ma

Ecommerce

Jack Ma Notable for

Riding 70 miles on bicycle to an international hotel for 9 years to practice English by giving tours.
Failing college entrance exam 3 years in a row.
Made $12 / month as a teacher.

Origin

Poor family.

Ignition

Starting a Yellow Pages style site, which resulted in companies asking them to build websites for them.

Achievement

Zero to $41B

Quotes

You should learn from your competitor, but never copy. Copy and you die.
Today is cruel. Tomorrow is crueler. And the day after tomorrow is beautiful.
We will make it because we are young and we will never, never give up.

Biography Wikipedia

Divyank Turakhia

Online advertising

Divyank Turakhia Notable for

Started computer programming at 8.
Working as IT contractor by 14.

Origin

Middle-class, Mumbai, India.

Ignition

Catching the early India IT wave as one of the few capable IT workers in the country, due to his own self-education.

Achievement

$1.75B

Biography Wikipedia

Mustafa Kemal

Statesman

Mustafa Kemal Notable for

Causing 300 years of national modernization in 10 years

Origin

Lower middle class, Ottoman Empire.

Ignition

Winning the Battle of Gallipoli

Achievement

Founding the republic of Turkey

Quotes

I am not ordering you to fight, I am ordering you to die. In the time that it takes us to die, other forces and commanders can come and take our place.

Biography Wikipedia

Bishnu Shrestha

Bravery

Bishnu Shrestha Notable for

Laying chop to a bunch of train bandits with a kukhri.

Origin

Gurkha from west Nepal

Ignition

Saving a girl from train-robbing bandits.

Achievement

The Sena Medal

Quotes

Taking on the thugs on the train was my duty as a human being.

Wikipedia