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Rags-to-Riches: Here are Some True Stories!

24 August 2011 No Comment

We have heard many rags-to-riches stories. There are movies and novels galore, which depict such themes; so many so that they fail to excite us anymore. Hereunder, we list ten such unusual stories which reassure us with the message that ingenuity and hard work can catapult any human to great heights. These 10 well-known millionaires have come up in life the hard way.

Halle Berry

She is a brilliant star now inHollywood. But, this A-list star had had her dark days. This Oscar-winning actress had undergone excruciating struggles, without even a roof to rest under. At 21, she chose acting as her career in NYC, and she spent her days in shelters when her mom refused to offer her any money. ThoughHalledidn’t speak to her mother for about 2 years, she later acknowledged that this experience of hers made her a stronger person altogether. “I’m actually grateful she did that, because it taught me how to take care of myself and I could live through any situation, even if it meant going to a shelter for a small stint.”  Nowadays, she moves back and forth inHollywoodsets with an enormous $70 m to her name.

Christopher Gardner

He is one person many of you might be familiar with, portrayed as he is by Will Smith in the film `The Pursuit of Happiness (based on a memoir of the same name by Christopher Gardner.)

He faced many adverse situations with patience, natural talent and sheer grit. He had suffered from marriage breakdowns, underwent  jail term, and struggled really hard to procure a safe life for his young son and himself. All through these hard times — he had to sleep in his office, at a railway station, in homeless shelters and in parks aroundSan Francisco— he managed to grab a flawless testimony at his workplace and cared for his son. Back in 2006, he sold his stake in his stockbrokerage company for millions. He now survives as a CEO and founder of Christopher Gardner International Holdings and has a net worth of over $165m in his name.

Jerry Winkler

This man has an overnight fortune story to tell us. But Jerry Winkler had lived a hard 28 years. After his mother was diagnosed with brain tumor, the man, he supposed was his father, took him in. However, their relationship was not comfortable and he spent five years in the care system. Jerry, meanwhile, also got involved in petty crimes and drugs, and soon found that his supposed father was not his real father and that he was the only inheritor of late multimillionaire businessman Alfred Winkler. Jerry was transferred from streets to his palatial house in the centre ofAmsterdamafter his inheritance was confirmed by a DNA test. He was not wrong a second time with his new-found wealth, and he set up an institution to help destitute young people.

“Colonel” Harland Sanders

No one needs an introduction to the bearded man smiling in front of your favorite fast food outlet. ‘Harland Sanders’ was so influential with his secret recipe to fry chicken that he was awarded a military title. The person behind KFC was homeless not once, but twice. He once ran away from his home when he had a dispute with his stepfather. But he utilized these roofless days for giving final shape to his famous chicken recipe. He used to sleep in his car as he traveled aroundNorth Americawith his yummy recipe (and wife Claudia) trying to convince restaurants to pay a franchise fee. The brand he built around chicken recipe alone fetched him $2m (worth almost $15m today) when he sold it in 1964. This success is credited to his hardship days which taught him impressive tactics in the war against poultry.

“Dr. Phil” McGraw

Now one of the renowned psychologists inAmerica, Dr Phil has his own stories of struggle and survival which have made him an eminent psychologist and author of many best sellers. He also has a childhood steeped in poverty, which he claims to be the main source of his success. At the age of 12, he was homeless and he spent his days as a wanderer in his dad’s car inKansas, while his father interned as a psychologist. Though after much struggle they did grab an accommodation of $5 room at YMCA, it was tough still for the boy at 12.

Richard Leroy Walters

The Walters story is a reverse example of an ultimate American dream. Richard Walters didn’t have a childhood of struggle and poverty as many others in this list had. He had been a marine, had a master’s degree and made millions as a jet propulsion engineer for Allied Signal Aerospace only to become later a homeless by choice.

After being forced to an early retirement, he was not lacking any funds to be compelled to go to streets. He usually slept on the grounds of a senior center, ate at a hospital and, meanwhile, continued investing his wealth. He saved so much so that he left a considerable bequest when he died in 2007 — he left $4m to charities including the Mission of Mercy inPhoenixand National Public Radio.

Michael Parness

Michael Parness also has a different rags-to-riches story to tell. He was a high school dropout and his childhood days were spent on streets. Even though he had such beginnings, he managed to establish a sports memorabilia company inNew Yorkbefore branching out into brokerage when bad counsel from a broker pal cost him his life savings. However, he wasn’t disheartened and turned $33,000 into $7m within just two years. He is now a best-selling author on investment and finance. Michael Parness also runs an investment advice business.

Stuart Sharp

The famous Stuart Sharp was a normal American gentleman from your neighborhood, when death of his infant son contributed to the breakdown of his marriage. After the double disaster he spent ten years on the streets.

He was endowed with what he calls a “vision” of soothing music and soon he composed a 40 minute symphony in memory of his child. This is surprising as he didn’t have any clue about music composition before. And as you all know the composition was described by experts as a  “genius’,” and that has been recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Jazz musician Anthony Wade found Sharp sleeping outside the BBC Television Centerand provided him with a place to reside. Sharp then twisted his fate around, harvesting millions from sales and property development. This ultimately led him to buy a recording studio for himself, thus fulfilling a dream he had nursed since his son’s tragic death.

Bob Williamson

Bob Williamson was an alcoholic and he attended 19 different schools, and was a heroin user. He used to carry with him a .357 magnum and has confessed to have committed armed robberies. Things started turning divine when he was hospitalized at the age of 22 due to a head-on car collision. He discovered his faith and converted to Christianity, and also found his future wife of 40 years from there.

Retrieval from the rough system straightened his track, and he started up on the art supply business before founding Horizon Software International in 1993.

The company does monitoring and facilitating meals in schools, hospitals, corporations and the military, procuring online payments and meal monitoring. In 2008, Horizon had sales of $26m and Bob Williamson sold his company for $75m the same year.

John Paul Jones DeJoria

John Paul Jones DeJoria started working for a living at the age of 9, selling Christmas cards and newspapers. He was involved with gangs inLos Angeleswhen he was taken to foster care, until he was inspired by a high school teacher’s comment that he would “never, ever succeed at anything in life.” DeJoria wanted to prove him wrong. He failed again when he was homeless, following a divorce, and used to live on the streets with his son. But nothing would stop him; he grew from a hair care employee to co-founder, with hairdresser Paul Mitchell, of John Paul Mitchell Systems. Now this hair products company has a very impressive turnover of $900m annually. Forbes recently rates DeJoria’s net worth as $4b. Dejoria must be thankful to his high school teacher.

Have a similar tale to tell? Let us know.

(Thanks to BusinessPundit)

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