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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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                      Published on January 28, 2020

                      How to Ace an Interview: Nailing the 10 Most Tricky Questions

                      How to Ace an Interview: Nailing the 10 Most Tricky Questions

                      As someone who has been in recruiting for over 10 years I can tell you the interview is vitally important to getting that new job you really want. During the interview process, there will most likely be at least 2 interviews, a phone interview and an in person interview. Both are important.

                      Companies can of course have different interviewing processes but in general, there is at least one phone interview, also known as a phone screen, and a live, in-person interview. The in-person interview can be with one person or it might be with a variety of people. While they are both important, the live interview is typically the one that will make or break you as a candidate for the position you are interviewing for.

                      Many of the interview questions we will review here will more likely come up during the live interview. But it’s a good idea to be prepared for them on the phone interview as well.

                      To illustrate how important the live interview is, I’ll tell you about my search that happened a year ago. I’d decided it was time to move on from the role I’d been in for a little over 6 years. As I started researching and looking for a new opportunity, I began down the path with 2 companies. With the one I landed with, I’d had 3 separate phone screens, each one an hour long. They must have thought they went well because I was asked to fly to the city where the corporate office is at and do an in-person interview. — with 8 people.

                      Yeah, it was a long day. The good news is I rocked the interviews across the board. I flew home that evening and the following day, I received a call with the job offer. That was less than 24 hours after I’d had the in person interview. This is how important the live interview is.

                      So how to ace an interview? We can dive right in to helping you nail the 10 most tricky interview questions:

                      1. What’s Your Biggest Weakness?

                      This is a personal favorite of mine. The primary reason for this question is not to actually find out what your biggest weakness is. Unless of course, you say something like “showing up to work on a regular basis,” then it’s probably going to get you kicked out of consideration for the role.

                      The main reason for someone asking you this question is to see if you are self-aware. That is if you know your weaknesses and are smart enough to account for them.

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                      The smart play here is to answer in a modest way. You want to be able to show that your biggest weakness actually has an upside. For instance, I usually say that mine is impatience. Which is true, I like to get things done. But what I ensure what I point out is that even though I am impatient, it’s because I like to crank and get a lot of work done.

                      2. Why Do You Want to Work Here?

                      Interestingly enough, a lot of people don’t have an answer to this question. It’s designed to find out if you’ve actually done research on the company and if you are excited about this position.

                      When I ask this question, many people have told me something like “because it looks like a good opportunity”. I mean, can you be any more generic?

                      The key to answering this is to show you’ve done research on the company and that you are enthusiastic about the actual position. Companies want people that are excited to work there, not just someone that shows up for a paycheck.

                      3. Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

                      Employers are asking you this question to see if you have somewhat of a plan for your career. It doesn’t have to be completely mapped out in a step by step manner but, a general overall plan is good to see. It means you are goal oriented and are working towards something.

                      Don’t worry about answering in a way that states you are planning on sticking with the company until you retire. Rather, focus more on how it’s important to you to continue to learn and get better and better at what you do. Companies like to hire self-motivated people.

                      4. Tell Me About a Time You Messed Up

                      Or tell me about a time something didn’t work out the way you planned. Similar in concept. The key here is to show that you take accountability for your actions and how you react to things going wrong.

                      Companies like to see that you are willing to accept responsibility for the things you oversee and own up when you are wrong. People that always find a way to blame their missteps on other people or circumstances typically don’t make good team mates.

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                      The other component here is things don’t always go as planned, how good are you at adapting and thinking on your feet.

                      5. Why Are You Looking to Leave Your Current Job?

                      This may seem like a place to launch into all the things you don’t like about your current job. Or to talk about what a terrible person your boss is. Don’t do it. That’s the path you do not want to go down. And that’s really what this question tends to prod out of many people.

                      If I am interviewing you and ask this question and you tell me all the ways your boss doesn’t appreciate you and your company has terrible leadership, I’m thinking what you’re going to be saying about me in a year when you are interviewing somewhere else.

                      Make sure you are framing your answer in a way that doesn’t shed bad light on your current or most recent employer. You want to focus on things like you’ve enjoyed working for the company but your growth options are limited there so you are exploring outside opportunities.

                      6. How Would Your Current Manager Describe You?

                      This question gives you the opportunity to show off your strengths and what your boss appreciates about what you bring to the table. You want to focus on the positive traits that your boss likes and how it helps you in your role.

                      What you do not want to do is sprinkle in the things your boss doesn’t think as highly of. Don’t say something like my boss would describe me as a focused worker, at least on the days I make it into the office.

                      7. Tell Me About a Time You Overcame an Obstacle

                      Another one of my favorite questions. Interviewers ask this question to see if you are able to deal with roadblocks.

                      Things don’t always go smoothly, so having people on the team who are able to solve problems has huge upside.

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                      Being able to overcome obstacles is a great trait to have. Make sure you have a few stories about how something didn’t go as planned that caused a challenge and how you were involved in solving the problem. It’s a way of turning a bad situation into a good one.

                      8. Why Should We Hire You?

                      If you are at the point of a live interview, you should be highly interested in the position.

                      By this point, you should have a pretty clear picture of what the role is and how your skills and experience will help you succeed. The reason this question is being asked is to see if you are the right candidate for this role.

                      This gives you a great opportunity to tell your interviewer how your expertise will positively impact the role. Right now, you are in the spotlight to clearly show that your experience is the perfect fit for the position and why. Shine on!

                      9. What’s Your Greatest Achievement?

                      Employers tend to ask this question to gain an understanding of what your big wins were. What are the really impactful things that have happened during your career and how you were the reason why they happened.

                      This is another great opportunity for you to toot your own horn. What you want to be conscious of is how you tell the story about your biggest achievement. You want to make sure you say why it was such a big achievement.

                      If possible, it’s always good to include your team as part of the big win. Employers love to hire people who can make things happen but, it’s also important they understand the importance of team work.

                      10. Do You Have Any Questions for Me?

                      You might be asking yourself why this is a tricky question. Honestly, it’s not a tricky question if you are prepared for it.

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                      What the interviewer is looking for here is how interested and excited you are for the position. You’d be surprised at how many people answer this question with a blank stare or have no questions prepared.

                      Again, if you are at a live interview, you should be highly interested in a position and the company. You will convey how interested you are in the opportunity with some well thought out questions to ask.

                      You don’t want to just ask one question like “How often is payday”? Have at least 4 to 5 questions prepared but don’t overwhelm your interviewer with dozens and dozens of questions. Show that you’ve given some serious thought to this position by coming prepared with solid questions to ask.

                      The Bottom Line

                      There you go, insight to nailing the 10 most tricky questions during the interview process. There are, of course, many other questions you might get asked during the interview process but, these tend to be the ones that trip most people up.

                      Remember to take your time and thoroughly prepare for the interview. You don’t have to memorize your answers or anything but having a good idea of how you’d answer these questions will help you ace the next interview.

                      Here’s to being career advancement ready!

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                      Featured photo credit: Romain V via unsplash.com

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