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10 Work Strategies You Can Learn from These Billionaires with a Humble Past

10 Work Strategies You Can Learn from These Billionaires with a Humble Past

Work strategies are the means and ways of every person who strives toward greater success. But what of those who ‘made it’? The ones who went from rags-to-riches? Are there such people? Or are the rich simply born with luck or a silver spoon?

Certainly, productivity techniques learned from some of the greatest authors of all time are one key to success. But there are other strategies that, while surprising, can be learned from those who made it big after starting with nearly nothing.

1. Howard Schultz: Stay Curious

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    Howard Schultz, the chairman and CEO of Starbucks and who now has a net worth of over $1.5 billion, started as a lowly salesman for the Xerox Corporation. Out of curiosity, he joined Starbucks as their Director of Marketing, as he was duly impressed with the then small coffee shop. On a trip to Italy, Schultz learned of the social aspects of coffee. He brought back the idea of coffee being social, as well as introducing espresso to the small company. The company grew from only 60 shops to over 16,000 outlets worldwide.

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    Schultz grew up in one of the housing projects in New York City. Of his humble beginnings Schultz says, “Growing up I always felt like I was living on the other side of the tracks. I knew the people on the other side had more resources, more money, happier families. And for some reason, I don’t know why or how, I wanted to climb over that fence and achieve something beyond what people were saying was possible. I may have a suit and tie on now but I know where I’m from and I know what it’s like.”

    2. Oprah Winfrey: Believe In Yourself
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      Today, Oprah Winfrey’s net worth is $3 billion. But she grew up in abject poverty in Mississippi, and later Michigan and then Tennessee. At the age of 16 she started in the radio business, and at only 19 become a co-anchor on the local nightly news. She now owns her own network as well as a magazine, and is a generous philanthropist. Oprah was awarded the President’s Medal of Freedom and received an honorary doctorate from Harvard University. Oprah Winfrey notes of her success, “You become what you believe. You are where you are today in your life based on everything you have believed.” She went on to add, “I don’t believe in coincidences.” Rather Oprah remained singularly focused on her goal to succeed, driving herself onward to greater and greater success.

      3. Kenneth Langone: Live Your Success

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        Kenneth Langone, has a net worth of over $2.1 billion. Langone is best known for co-founding The Home Depot. Yet, he too began his journey born into poverty. He worked as a ditch digger, a butcher’s assistant and as a golf caddy. He attended the New York Stern School of Business part time in the evening, while holding down a full-time job. The Stern School is now referred to as the “Langone Program” at NYU. After a successful business venture with Ross Perot, Langone went on to study business involving home improvement. He is also well known for his philanthropic works that involve helping children, universities and more.

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        4. Shahid Khan: Move Out Of Your Comfort Zone

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          Shahid Khan moved from his Pakistani home to the United States at the age of 16. He became a dish washer at only $1.20 an hour and lived at a local YMCA. Khan’s net worth now is over $3.8 billion. He’s the owner of Flex ‘N Gate, a manufacturing company with company headquarters in Urbana, Illinois. Khan became an American citizen in 1991. He is also the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the English soccer club Fulham. Khan has been recognized for his generosity to various charities.

          5. Kirk Kerkorian: Keep Fighting For Your Dream

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            Kirk Kekorian quit school in the eighth grade to help his Armenian-immigrant family financially. He dreamed of becoming a boxer and was known as “Rifle Right Kerkoria.” He won the Pacific amateur welterweight championship, but then went on to fly planes to Britain during World War II. Near the end of the war, he flew over Las Vegas and began to dream a different dream. Along with Martin Stern Jr. (touted as the ‘father’ of the mega-resort), he went on to build Las Vegas as it is today. Kekorian has a net worth of over $3.9 billion.

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            6. Kenny Troutt: Where There’s A Will There’s A Way

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              Kenny Troutt was born into poverty and his father was a bartender. Troutt went on to pay for his college tuition through selling life insurance. He founded Excel Communications, using the then innovative Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) technique. Troutt became a billionaire when he sold the company in 1998 for $3.5 billion.

              7. Beth Comstock: Know The Value Of Teamwork

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                Beth Comstock learned the value of teamwork while working at a Rubbermaid Factory. Upon graduation from the College of William and Mary, she took a job in local television production in Virginia. Currently, she is the senior vice president and chief marketing officer with General Electric. Comstock also helped found the popular Hulu network. Comstock credits her earlier hard work for driving her ever onward in her highly successful career.

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                8. Warren Buffett: Earn, Save, And Give Back

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                  Warren Buffett sold newspapers at the tender age of 11. Since then he has accomplished a great deal, primarily due to his skill in making investments. With a net worth of over $58 billion, Buffett is widely known for his philanthropic efforts. Of his wealth Buffett has said, “I don’t have a problem with guilt about money. The way I see it is that my money represents an enormous number of claim checks on society. It’s like I have these little pieces of paper that I can turn into consumption. If I wanted to, I could hire 10,000 people to do nothing but paint my picture every day for the rest of my life. And the GDP would go up. But the utility of the product would be zilch, and I would be keeping those 10,000 people from doing AIDS research, or teaching, or nursing. I don’t do that though. I don’t use very many of those claim checks. There’s nothing material I want very much. And I’m going to give virtually all of those claim checks to charity when my wife and I die.” He and his wife still reside in their humble home in Nebraska, which he bought for $31,500 in 1957.

                  9. John Paul DeJoria: Don’t Stop Trying For Your Success

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                    John Paul DeJoria lived in a foster home and even lived in his car. He created the John Paul Mitchell Hair Care System with a loan of a mere $700. He also founded Patron Tequila and today has a net worth of over $4 billion. DeJoria joined with Nelson Mandela in the Food4Africa effort and helped provide over 200,000 meals for children.

                    10. Ralph Lauren: Stay Focused On Your Dream

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                      Ralph Lauren began his career in clothing as a clerk at Brooks Brothers. It was there that Lauren started dreaming of more variety and colors in men’s ties. In 1967, he sold $700,000 of those types of ties. The next year he started the Polo line of clothing. His net worth today is over $7 billion.

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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

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