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How to Be Successful? The Stories of These 15 Entrepreneurs Can Give You Some Ideas

How to Be Successful? The Stories of These 15 Entrepreneurs Can Give You Some Ideas

Passion, motivation, the desire to take risks and confidence. These words define an entrepreneur. Perhaps these words makes you envision Steve Jobs and his black turtleneck. Maybe you see the iPhone as one of the most important ideas of all time. Or maybe when you think about an individual who brought a unique idea to the world and worked tirelessly until it changed life as we know it, you picture Thomas Edison.

Both Jobs and Edison are deserving of the Influential Entrepreneurial title, because both men impacted the world with new ways to communicate. But when I ask you to think of some of the most influential entrepreneurs in the last hundred years or so, would you have trouble listing more than two? Read on to learn about 15 of the most influential entrepreneurs.

15 Most Influential Entrepreneurs of All Time

Henry Ford

    Ford was born into a family of farmers, but he was always curious as to how things worked. After receiving a timepiece from his father as a teenager, Ford took the thing apart just to see if he could put it back together. Though Dyslexic, Ford knew he had a passion about knowing how things worked, and he was determined to do something about it.

    In 1891, Ford met with Thomas Edison (who was very intrigued by his auto-mobile ideas) who allowed him to use his warehouses to manufacture two vehicles. When he could, Ford built his own company so he could build the cars how he wanted to. Ford went on to build the Cadillac Automobile company, but he had terrible financial setbacks along the way. He believed in himself and didn’t let financial failures slow him down. Sales for the Ford group are now $190 billion.

    Oprah Winfrey

      Winfrey may be a household name because of her show and her magazines, but she’s accomplished so much more. After facing a tragic childhood and being very vocal about things she had experienced, Winfrey would gain fame in 1983 when she landed her own talk-show. While she was happy with the fame and financial success she was experiencing, she still had entrepreneurial skills. In 1988, she founded Harpo Studios. This business now has over 250 employees and is growing every year. Her personal wealth sits at a comfortable $2.7 billion.

      Larry Page

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        At just 37 years old, Page has a net worth of $15 billion! He’s the co-founder of Google. His parents were both computer science professors at the University of Michigan. He came from a wealthy family, so he was able to attend the best schools in order to complete his degree in Computer Engineering Sciences. He also earned a Masters in Computer Science from Stanford before meeting Sergey Brin in 1995.

        Brin was also a Stanford student, and the two became friends. In 1996, they went into business together and started Google Incorporated. Through networking, they were able to get financial backing from Andy Bectolsheim, one of the co-founders of Sun Microsystems. They would go on to be offered much more from tons of investors.

        Richard Branson

          Branson is a well-known British Industrialist, and you’ve probably seen him on commercials for the Virgin Group’s Virgin Atlantic Airways. Virgin Group spans across 360 different companies including Virgin Records, Virgin Galactic and even some charities. Branson was always of an entrepreneurial mind, as he started his first business venture in 1966 with Student Magazine. The next year, he opened his first charity, The Student Advisory Centre.

          He is heavily involved with all aspects of his company, which helps make him such a success, and part of why he’s on this list. He didn’t stop as soon as he was successful, he continued to work hard because he cares about the work he’s doing.

          Ariana Huffington

            Huffington was born in Athens, Greece in 1950 and is now one of the most professional and successful females within the blogging industry. Along with blogging, Huffington also wrote a biography on Maria Callas in 1981, and Picasso in 1989. She gained more attention in the early 90’s when she supported her ex-husband’s unsuccessful bid for the Senate.

            Always driven, she later founded the Huffington Post. This has spanned and grown and you may also recognize HuffPost Chicago, HuffPost New York, HuffPost Denver, and HuffPost Los Angeles. In 2010, she won the Webby award for the People’s Voice, and she was even named the second place winner in Time Magazine’s Best 25 Blogs of 2009.

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            Charles Kemmons Wilson

              Wilson is one of the most famous entrepreneurs in the hotelier business. Supposedly, he came up with the idea for his business after a road trip helped him see the need for quality hotels. He and his business partner created Holiday Inn of America. It franchised in 1957 and grew dramatically. In fact, by 1958, Wilson and Johnson had managed to create 50 different Holiday Inns all over the country. In just five years, there were 500! And just after a decade, that already impressive number would double to 1000.

              Wilson was a true entrepreneur, as he brought innovative ideas to the market which helped leverage the way things worked as well as adding financial pressure to traditional hotels and bigger competitors.

              Anita Roddick

                Roddick created the Body Shop in 1976 with only 15 products and loads of compassion. She had sourced the products from all around the world and was determined to give shoppers in the UK access to “Greener” products. She was so motivated and passionate about what she was doing, she was able to open store after store. As of 2003, she had built an empire of 1,980 stores serving more than 75 million customers in 50 countries. She sold her company to L’Oreal and made $1.03 billion on it.

                Jeff Bezos

                  Born in 1964, Bezos is the founder, chief executive officer and Chairman of the Board for Amazon.com. Bezos started as an Exxon engineer, but he had always been interested in science. He received an honorary doctorate in science and technology from Carnegie Mellon University in 2008 and graduated from Princeton. In 1994, after a trip from New York to Seattle, Bezos came up with the idea for Amazon. He was able to get backing and now Amazon is one of the most successful e-commerce sites in the world with a revenue of about $25 billion.

                  George Eastman

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                    You’ve probably heard of Kodak, but you probably haven’t heard of Eastman, even though he was the man who made it all happen. He founded the company in 1884, but he was more interested in creating than running the business. He hired Henry Strong as the president and in 1885, Eastman invented the roll film which was used for over 100 years.

                    Penny Streeter

                      Streeter was born in Zimbabwe in 1957, but she moved to the UK in the late eighties. After launching a recruitment business, she was left broke and homeless due to its failure. To add to her troubles, she was faced with a divorce at the same time.

                      Six years later, she decided she had nothing more to lose and started a recruitment business once more. This time, she created Ambition 24Hours and it sought to fill roles in nursing, social work, teaching, lecturing, and care-giving. In 2004, the company expanded into South Africa and in 2006, she made her first noticeable acquisition; the nursing services of South Africa. This was the largest staffing agency for nursing personnel. Streeter went from being broke to having a net worth of $117.80 billion.

                      Linda Bennett

                        Bennett truly worked her way from the bottom. Passionate about the clothing industry, she founded the luxury womenswear brand LK Bennett in the UK in 1990. She opened an accessories shop in Wimbledon with a small savings account and a bank loan. She managed to become an icon, creating shoes for the Duchess of Cornwall which she wore to marry Prince Charles.

                        In 2004, she tried to sell the business, but didn’t, as the asking price wasn’t met. Four years later she sold to a private equity firm called Phoenix Equity partners and Sirius Equity for around $110 million.

                        Madame C.J. Walker

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                          Walker died over 90 years ago, but she made an empire. Born Sarah Breedlove, Walker is known for being America’s first African-American entrepreneur, as well as one of the wealthiest of her time. Many women in the 18-1900s suffered from hair loss (thought to be due to a lack of plumbing and electricity which prevented bathing regularly). Walker recognized it was a problem and decided to make some home-made remedies.

                          They worked so well that she invested and created a business. The products were a huge success and stores across the country were selling her products. In 1908, she opened a college to train hair dressers, and in 1910 she started a factory. She would later become a teacher and lecturer, speaking to female entrepreneurs to help them find their own success.

                          Walt Disney

                            After being hired by the Kansas City film Ad Company, Disney learned how to make animations from cut-outs. He went on to have many successes and failures, but he continued to work on his animation knowledge. In 1932, he won an Academy Award for his efforts in animation. He is of course responsible for Disney Land and Disney World which are currently worth about $35 million.

                            Hans Christian Andersen

                              Anderson grew up poor, but a fortuneteller told him he would grow up to be famous. He tried and failed to become an actor and a singer, but the director of the Royal Danish Theatre took him under his wing and paid for his education. He was bullied at school and began publishing his writings after leaving. His fairy tales became famous and Disney has adapted most of them.

                              Michael Newton

                                Newton started a CCTV system in 1982 that monitored how long a person was at a bar. He introduced a line of multi-channel systems that were able to view a broad range of areas all at once in various locations. Now using this system, over 7 million images are recorded every second. In 1994, he made the move into the commercial airline industry and is now the CEO of the AD Aviation company.

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                                Last Updated on August 19, 2019

                                How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

                                How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

                                There is a great deal of advice in the world telling us how to succeed in life, but often we are given advice that isn’t tailored to our needs, desires and priorities. Success means different things to each of us, and living a life that feels genuinely successful to me might be very different to your idea of a successful life.

                                Naturally, when we follow the advice of someone else, which is tailored to their life goals and personality, we can end up with something that doesn’t deliver on the promise. We don’t get rewarded with our vision of success: we get theirs.

                                This is why I’m a proponent of self-discovery, introspection and personal sovereignty. So how to succeed on your own terms?

                                These 7 essential steps are not going to tell you exactly what to do, but they will provide you with the tools and the questions to ask so that you can discover your own path, so you know how to succeed in life on your own terms.

                                1. Know Thyself

                                One of Socrates’ most well-known quotes is,

                                An unexamined life is not worth living.

                                I argue that an unexamined life is not a successful one. Self-knowledge is something we could dedicate our lives to, but I’m not suggesting you sit around and navel-gaze in order to find happiness and meaning.

                                Thankfully, there are people who have created techniques and systems that less us fast-forward through a lot of personal philosophizing, and quickly identify some key aspects of what makes us, us.

                                You might want to find out what your ideal daily schedule is,[1] and you can take tests that reveal just that. Or you might want to figure out what you need to get things done – and yes, there’s a quiz for that too.

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                                None of these tests are infallible, and some are more scientific than others, but the process of asking yourself questions about your behaviors and traits is invaluable when it comes to determining your path to succeed in life.

                                For example, if you know you are an introvert and are unhappy in your current workplace, it might be worth considering why that is (an open plan office space perhaps) and what you would prefer.

                                It’s these little questions that will provoke answers in you that can guide the decisions that truly improve your life now and in the future.

                                2. Figure out What Matters to You

                                What lights you up? This is a question that often gets forgotten as we age. A fortunate child will be given the stimulation they desire in the form of bright toys, affection and entertainment. Little by little, the things that bring a child joy get replaced by what society demands on their behalf.

                                When we return to that question, and ask ourselves what really matters and what brings us joy, we can move closer towards a successful life. It can help to think back to your childhood, and the times in your life when you were in what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls a flow state.[2]

                                In a state of flow, time slows and our focus is directed like a laser. We are fully present.

                                Whilst not everything in life that matters to you will conjure up a flow state, it’s a good indication of the kind of activities and experiences you can try to incorporate into your life on a regular basis.

                                A successful life is made up of moments like this, and when you know what matters to you and brings you a sense of joy and purpose, you can go about creating more of that.

                                3. Play to Your Strengths

                                Why spend your time only on mitigating your weaknesses, only to feel average? Instead, playing to your strengths and amplifying those skills and qualities you already have will help you go from average to extraordinary.

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                                If you’re great at big picture thinking and love dreaming up new ideas, but often lack attention to detail, acknowledge that. Then instead of trying to improve your analytical skills, focus instead on developing your existing skills of imagination and insight. When you need someone with a keen eye for detail, you can collaborate with those people.

                                Jackson Pollock was an extreme introvert, with no real desire to get his artwork in front of people. Fortunately, he had Clement Greenberg, who was much further towards the extrovert end of the spectrum, to popularize his work and get Pollock the publicity he needed.[3]

                                Start by identifying your strengths and what comes naturally to you. Then work on developing those and becoming known for those strengths. You can always find someone who will help you in fill in the gaps.

                                4. Listen to Yourself

                                It isn’t always clear to us that we’re on a path that leads us to failure or to success. People can spends decades in a job that is unfulfilling and slowly breaking their spirit, without even realizing it – until it’s too late. This is usually because they haven’t learned how to truly listen to themselves.

                                The challenge we face is that we’re listening to so many other sources of information; whether it’s the news, television, social media, family, friends or colleagues. Many may want to help, but that doesn’t mean they know what’s best for us. Only you know what success means for you, and working this out begins with listening to yourself.

                                Listening to yourself requires practice. It’s a daily effort, which over time, does get easier. That inner voice of wisdom will get clearer, and the decisions you make will feel more convincing.

                                To start, you could try to set aside 10 to 15 minutes when you first wake up, in silence. Rather than look at your phone, checking emails or social media, simply sit in silence, listening.

                                Ask yourself a simple question like, what am I feeling right now, in this moment? Notice the answer that bubbles up, without getting lost in the story. Starting an inner dialogue, without judgment is one of the key tools you can use to start making better decisions in your life.

                                Learn more about listening to your true self in this guide: How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment

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                                5. Listen to Others (But Not Everyone)

                                Listening to yourself is one thing, but listening to others is crucial in order to learn, empathize and be of benefit to your community.

                                Truly listening to others is not just waiting patiently until it’s your turn to speak. Active listening requires focused attention, and the intention to understand where the other person is coming from.

                                When you do this, you can ask better questions and discover more about the world and everyone in it, as well as learn how to interact with others in order to succeed in life on your own terms.

                                However, this doesn’t mean you have to listen to everyone you come across. Trolls on the internet may come into the category of people not to listen to. Some people’s opinions will do more harm than good, as not everyone has your best interest in mind.

                                It’s worth identifying a shortlist of people whose opinions you will listen to. Brené Brown, author of the New York Times best-seller Daring Greatly, recommends taking a 1-inch x 1-inch square of paper and make a list of people whose opinions matter to you. These are the people who love you and will genuinely support and help you. According to Brown,

                                “If you need more paper, you need to edit.”

                                6. Make Time for Reflection

                                It’s easy to go through life without taking inventory of what you’re actually accomplishing. Missing this crucial step means we end up jumping from one goal to the next, without feeling like we’re getting anywhere.

                                Make time, ideally each day to reflect. You might keep a paper journal, or an online document. Either way, jot down:

                                • What went well today
                                • Something you’re grateful for
                                • What would make tomorrow even better

                                Doing this can have measurable benefits to our overall sense of well-being, as well as keeping us focused for more success in the future.[4]

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                                It also helps combat feelings of lack and doubt, that arise when we compare ourselves to others. When we look at someone who appears to be more successful than us in an area of life, we can forget how far we’ve come and how much we have to be grateful for.

                                Making time to reflect on what you have accomplished is critical to keep you on track, and just not looking at what others are doing.

                                7. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Mind

                                Arguably the most important step of all:

                                Remember that there’s nothing wrong in changing your mind and correcting course.

                                The path to a successful life is not straight and narrow. It meanders and there’s no harm in going back and picking a different (and better) route.

                                “I think our life is a journey, and we make mistakes, and it’s how we learn from those mistakes and rebound from those mistakes that sets us on the path that we’re meant to be on.” — Jay Ellis

                                Be willing to make mistakes, learn from them and change your mind. Ultimately, there’s no better way to succeed in life on your own terms.

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                                Featured photo credit: Shirly Niv Marton via unsplash.com

                                Reference

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