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Highly Successful Entrepreneurs Who Used to Be Homeless

Highly Successful Entrepreneurs Who Used to Be Homeless

The origins of successful entrepreneurs vary from person to person. But did you know that the following successes were homeless at one point?

1. Tyler Perry

Tyler_Perry_-_army_mil-66455-2010-03-09-180359

    Image courtesy of Sgt. Michael Connors, via Wikimedia Commons

    Known for portraying “Madea,” Tyler Perry has amassed fortunes, fame, and fun in his career in the entertainment industry. He’s gained fame as an actor, director, screenwriter, playwright, producer, author, and songwriter, specializing in the gospel genre.

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    Perry’s entered the entertainment industry in 1992 as a playwright. After listening to an episode of Oprah, where the daytime talk show host suggested that writing things down was cathartic, he decided to write his first play. I Know I’ve Been Changed was about the pain and shortcomings Perry had experienced in life.

    He was homeless for months at a time and spent many nights in pay-by-the-week hotels or in his car. He used the little money he had to get I Know I’ve Been Changed into a local theater in New Orleans, but he couldn’t seem to draw an audience to the play. However, his persistence and perseverance paid off in 1998. During a limited showing of the play, audiences began to show up in big numbers. The play was so successful, it then moved to the Fox Theater in Atlanta.

    Since 1998, Perry has written 13 additional plays and 12 films. In 2008, he opened his own entertainment studio in Atlanta, with a 400 employee workforce behind him.

    2. Dani Johnson

    successful entrepreneur
      Courtesy of Dani Johnson media kit

      If you don’t believe you can go from living out of your car with $2 in your pocket to becoming a millionaire at 23 years old, then take a look at Dani Johnson. Her life was marred by sexual abuse from her stepfather, teenage pregnancy, and being homeless, but she didn’t allow that to stop her from finding success. In fact, Johnson has turned the obstacles she’s faced into lessons and speeches that empower others to strive for greatness.

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      Johnson’s first brush with success came after she began marketing products for a health company from the back of her car. She soon became the company’s top salesperson. Her success sparked interest from others who wanted to know how to duplicate her achievements. Johnson decided to launch her own training company to teach her business skills to others. The training company later lead to the development of her own health and nutrition marketing company.

      The success of both companies turned Johnson into a multimillionaire by the age of 23.

      3.  Suze Orman

      successful entrepreneur

        Courtesy of Suze Orman media kit

        When it comes to personal finances, Suze Orman is one of the persons you think of first. Her knowledge and enthusiasm for money has made her a multimillionaire, but her road to fame and success was not easy. She had to overcome several roadblocks — including a speech impediment that caused poor performance in school, dropping out of college, and living as a homeless person.

        Growing up, Orman struggled to pronounce her R’s, S’s, and T’s properly, which hampered her reading ability throughout the student years. According to Orman, she didn’t score well on her SAT exam. This limited the colleges she could attend to either a community college or a state school. She was accepted into the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but ran into another challenge her senior year: She hadn’t fulfilled her language requirement. Despite what some may consider a radical decision, she decided to drop out and take a cross-country road trip.

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        Orman ended up in California, where she found her first job at a tree service making $3.50 an hour. She couldn’t afford to find a place to stay, so she and a friend lived out of the truck she had bought.

        Orman later found a job as a waitress, which inspired her to want to open her own restaurant. Through donations she raised a total of $50,000, putting the money into a brokerage account. However, the broker mishandled her money and lost it all in three months. This caused Orman to develop a curiosity for how brokers operate. She studied the field and learned all she could about Wall Street.

        Orman later interviewed for a job as a broker and was hired, making $1500 a month. She became one of the most successful brokers at Merrill Lynch. After leaving the company, she used her knowledge of finance to teach people through TV, books, and seminars about how to effectively manage their money.

        4. Howard Schultz

        successful entrepreneur

          Courtesy of Starbucks Newsroom

          Howard Schultz is another example of the amazing amount of success you can gain by simply not allowing your situation to get you down. As a kid growing up in New York City, Schultz and his family were poor. They stayed in public housing and struggled to make ends meet. After graduating from high school, Schultz became the first in his family to attend college — with the help of an athletic scholarship to Northern Michigan University.

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          After a successful stint at Xerox, he took on a management role at a coffee manufacturer that worked with Starbucks at the time. He was impressed with the coffee chain that consisted of only four stores. It inspired him to open his own coffee shop, but he had one problem — money. It would cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars to open his own coffee business.

          Following years of dedication to raise the money necessary to open his first shop, he finally had enough. In 1986, he opened Il Giornale and within years he had bought the Starbucks chain and turned it into a multi-billion dollar business.

          Today, Starbucks is the universal name for gourmet coffee.

          Featured photo credit: Dani Johnson via danijohnson.com

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          Kim Beasley

          CEO/Business Visibility Strategist

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          Last Updated on October 13, 2020

          How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

          How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

          Have you been stuck in the same position for too long and don’t really know how to get promoted and advance your career?

          Feeling stuck could be caused by a variety of things:

          • Taking a job for the money
          • Staying with an employer that no longer aligns with your values
          • Realizing that you landed yourself in the wrong career
          • Not feeling valued or feeling underutilized
          • Taking a position without a full understanding of the role

          There are many other reasons why you may be feeling this way, but let’s focus instead on learning what to do now in order to get unstuck and get promoted

          One of the best ways to get promoted is by showing how you add value to your organization. Did you make money, save money, improve a process, or do some other amazing thing? How else might you demonstrate added value?

          Let’s dive right in to how to get promoted when you feel stuck in your current position.

          1. Be a Mentor

          When I supervised students, I used to warm them — tongue in cheek, of course — about getting really good at their job.

          “Be careful not to get too good at this, or you’ll never get to do anything else.”

          This was my way of pestering them to take on additional challenges or think outside the box, but there is definitely some truth in doing something so well that your manager doesn’t trust anyone else to do it.

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          This can get you stuck.

          Jo Miller of Be Leaderly shares this insight on when your boss thinks you’re too valuable in your current job:

          “Think back to a time when you really enjoyed your current role…You became known for doing your job so well that you built up some strong ‘personal brand’ equity, and people know you as the go-to-person for this particular job. That’s what we call ‘a good problem to have’: you did a really good job of building a positive perception about your suitability for the role, but you may have done ‘too’ good of a job!”[1]

          With this in mind, how do you prove to your employer that you can add value by being promoted?

          From Miller’s insight, she talks about building your personal brand and becoming known for doing a particular job well. So how can you link that work with a position or project that will earn you a promotion?

          Consider leveraging your strengths and skills.

          Let’s say that the project you do so well is hiring and training new entry-level employees. You have to post the job listing, read and review resumes, schedule interviews, make hiring decisions, and create the training schedules. These tasks require skills such as employee relations, onboarding, human resources software, performance management, teamwork, collaboration, customer service, and project management. That’s a serious amount of skills!

          Are there any team members who can perform these skills? Try delegating and training some of your staff or colleagues to learn your job. There are a number of reasons why this is a good idea:

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          1. Cross-training helps in any situation in the event that there’s an extended illness and the main performer of a certain task is out for a while.
          2. As a mentor to a supervisee or colleague, you empower them to increase their job skills.
          3. You are already beginning to demonstrate that added value to your employer by encouraging your team or peers to learn your job and creating team players.

          Now that you’ve trained others to do that work for which you have been so valued, you can see about re-requesting that promotion. Explain how you have saved the company money, encouraged employees to increase their skills, or reinvented that project of yours.

          2. Work on Your Mindset

          Another reason you may feel stuck in a position is explained through this quote:

          “If you feel stuck at a job you used to love, it’s normally you—not the job—who needs to change. The position you got hired for is probably the exact same one you have now. But if you start to dread the work routine, you’re going to focus on the negatives.”[2]

          In this situation, you should pursue a conversation with your supervisor and share your thoughts and feelings to help you learn how to get promoted. You can probably get some advice on how to rediscover the aspects of that job you enjoyed, and negotiate either some additional duties or a chance to move up.

          Don’t express frustration. Express a desire for more.

          Present your case and show your boss or supervisor that you want to be challenged, and you want to move up. You want more responsibility in order to continue moving the company forward. Focus on how you can do that with the skills you have and the positive mindset you’ve cultivated.

          3. Improve Your Soft Skills

          When was the last time you put focus and effort into upping your game with those soft skills? I’m talking about those seemingly intangible things that make you the experienced professional in your specific job skills[3].

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          Use soft skills when learning how to get promoted.

            According to research, improving soft skills can boost productivity and retention 12 percent and deliver a 250 percent return on investment based on higher productivity and retention[4]. Those are only some of the benefits for both you and your employer when you want to learn how to get promoted.

            You can hone these skills and increase your chances of promotion into a leadership role by taking courses or seminars.

            Furthermore, you don’t necessarily need to request funding from your supervisor. There are dozens of online courses being presented by entrepreneurs and authors about these very subjects. Udemy and Creative Live both feature online courses at very reasonable prices. And some come with completion certificates for your portfolio!

            Another way to improve your soft skills is by connecting with an employee at your organization who has a position similar to the one you want.

            Express your desire to move up in the organization, and ask to shadow that person or see if you can sit in on some of their meetings. Offer to take that individual out for coffee and ask what their secret is! Take copious notes, and then immerse yourself in the learning.

            The key here is not to copy your new mentor. Rather, you want to observe, learn, and then adapt according to your strengths.

            4. Develop Your Strategy

            Do you even know specifically why you want to learn how to get promoted? Do you see a future at this company? Do you have a one-year, five-year, or ten-year plan for your career path? How often do you consider your “why” and insure that it aligns with your “what”?

            Sit down and make an old-fashioned pro and con list.

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            Write down every positive aspect of your current job and then every negative one. Which list is longer? Are there any themes present?

            Look at your lists and choose the most exciting pros and the most frustrating cons. Do those two pros make the cons worth it? If you can’t answer that question with a “yes,” then getting promoted at your current organization may not be what you really want[5].

            The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. —Mark Twain

            Here are some questions to ask yourself:

            • Why do you do what you do?
            • What thrills you about your current job role or career?
            • What does a great day look like?
            • What does success look and feel like beyond the paycheck?
            • How do you want to feel about your impact on the world when you retire?

            Define success to get promoted

              These questions would be great to reflect on in a journal or with your supervisor in your next one-on-one meeting. Or, bring it up with one of your work friends over coffee.

              Final Thoughts

              After considering all of these points and doing your best to learn how to get promoted, what you might find is that being stuck is your choice. Then, you can set yourself on the path of moving up where you are, or moving on to something different.

              Because sometimes the real promotion is finding your life’s purpose.

              More Tips on How to Get Promoted

              Featured photo credit: Razvan Chisu via unsplash.com

              Reference

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