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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 January 14, 2019

                      The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

                      The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

                      Regardless of whether you hold an entry-level administration role or regularly travel to the ends of the Earth as a hot-shot senior executive, you can still find yourself harboring an emptiness… a feeling that something is missing. A popular assumption that experiencing job satisfaction and a successful career should be underpinned by a well-rounded suite of tangible benefits, no longer holds true for many of us.

                      We’d never deny health care benefits, appropriate and fair remuneration, bonuses and travel perks in a job package. However, even if served to us on a silver platter, those features can only satiate us to a certain point.

                      You might wonder what governs entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to quit their lucrative jobs, essentially look the gift horse in the mouth and kiss such benefits goodbye! There can be an irresistible pull to mastermind a business with products and/or services that serve the greater good of community wider than that constituting their daily existence.

                      Even with research showing entrepreneurship to pose greater threats to their mental and physical health, this unique breed of individuals choose to go against the grain in chasing their dreams of being their own boss. Why? Why would anyone risk this type of career suicide?

                      Whether you’re an employee, have recently taken the leap to being a business owner or been in business for a while, the commonality is a congenital condition we all share as human beings; to feel a sense of purpose, value and contribution to our community. Despite it being harder to find this for ourselves in today’s world, these approaches will help you achieve ultimate satisfaction through the twists, turns and joyrides that are essential features of shaping a successful career.

                      1. Search for Opportunities That Feed Your Passion, Not Temporary Excitement

                      Even though well-intended, the ‘feel good now’ compass that career coaches and consultants often recommend you use to create career satisfaction can actually do you more harm than good. Excitement is transient. It doesn’t last. Passion is the compass you need.

                      Passion and excitement are two different things. The resounding career legacy that still draws you to turn up on the job regardless of the sunshine or storm that awaits you…that’s passion. It’s like a mental and/or emotional itch you can’t shrug off. Staying attuned to that calling will breed success for you sooner or later. Patience is key.

                      You’re also likely to have more than one key passion. Beware of getting caught in the notion you have to find your one true purpose. In fact, run immediately from any coach who tells you there is only one. There isn’t.

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                      Your passion is a journey that can take multiple forms so forget thinking there is the single dream job out there that will give you satisfaction in every way you can imagine. It simply doesn’t exist.

                      Consider embracing different roles and projects to help you fuel your passion or fuel your pursuits in finding it. Job satisfaction and your career success will be all the more sweeter from a wider range of enriching experiences.

                      2. Don’t Position Job and Career Satisfaction Assessments as Pivotal Guides to Your Success

                      Despite their popular use for vocational guidance, assessment tools such as Gallup’s Clifton Strengths and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator have come under fire[1] as being limited to the amount of true value and direction they can offer partakers.[2] These and many other guidance assessment tools (e.g. VIA Character Strengths , DISC ) are self-report questionnaires that don’t have normative population data against which to compare your results.

                      Simply remember these tools help you develop a stronger sense of what you identify as strengths and weaknesses within yourself, not in comparison with other people. They will still add insight around what sorts of career opportunities, tasks and projects are going to light your fire, what ones are going to extinguish it and what will prod and keep the coals steadily smoldering.

                      3. Be Clear on Your Personal Values, Ethics and Principles and Choose Relationships That Support You Honoring Them

                      Teamwork, collaboration, open communication and trust are commonplace for any flourishing work environment. However, whether or not your personal values can be honored in your work can make or break your job satisfaction.

                      How committed do you want to be to an organization that expects an average of 10 unpaid overtime hours every week under the guise of ‘reasonable overtime’? Are you willing to accept their construing this expectation as ‘strong commitment’ at the expense of your partner and children waiting at home for you? What are your boundaries concerning when you clock on to their time and when you clock off to yours?

                      Being very in tune with what your personal values, principles and ethics are will bid you well in the job satisfaction stakes. Spending time to reflect on experiences and working relationships you’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly – will help you make well-informed searches and grounded decisions that will propel your career success.

                      Finding and nurturing relationships with associates and colleagues who share similar values doesn’t just make your day-to-day pursuits more enjoyable. You become fortunate to work with like-minded people who will support, understand and appreciate you like a second family.

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                      Being able to honor your personal values in your work means you will still be able to sleep at night when you have to tread where others fear to, and make extremely difficult decisions others would never ever dream of having to make as you forge success in your career.

                      4. Be Clear on Your Own Definition of What Having a Successful Career Means for You

                      It’s tempting to get caught up in the ideals and projections of success expressed by those we love, admire and respect. Underneath, we all want on some level to belong to a successful club of some sort.

                      With research reporting how much money we feel we need to be truly happy,[3] many of us try to subscribe to the notion that having the car of our dreams or taking a European holiday annually will not bring us happiness. The truth, however, for many of us is these tangible rewards are congratulatory reminders of our persistent efforts to chase our career pursuits.

                      If those are things you aspire to, don’t let anyone steal your desire and want to feel deserving of these things, that those are some parameters by which you define your career success.

                      Despite consistently being the top revenue earner for two years running, you may not wish to become the sales manager. You may not wish to step out into running your own business even though you consistently excel as an employee, delighting clients and repeatedly receiving glowing testimonials.

                      Your definition of career success might be enjoying the predictability of a regular workplace routine. You get to leave – without feeling guilty – at the same time each day, love the people you work with and get to spend a good, uninterrupted amount of work-stress free quality time with your family. That picture is also blissful job satisfaction and complete career success.

                      5. Identify the Sorts of Challenges and Problems You Want to Learn to Overcome

                      Standard advice you might receive from a career coach might be to look for opportunities where you get to capitalize on exercising your strengths and career-related activities you enjoy.

                      However, to become a success at anything involves improvement. To excel at anything often involves stepping outside boundaries and comfort zones where others wouldn’t. This means dedicating focus and attention to things you’re not so good at and things you don’t like.

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                      Here’s where working with a coach can be particularly helpful. Map out the experiences that were unsavory in your working history. Were there challenges you opted out of, projects you failed at or toxic relationships that blasted your sense of purpose and self-worth into oblivion? It’s within these experiences that you might just find the most valuable lessons and guiding lights for your trajectory to achieve greater job satisfaction.

                      If your natural leadership style is to be a collaborator, finding opportunities that require you to apply a more dictatorial style might be needed. Discussing a secondment or short-term project where you get to develop and test your skills can be a step further in earning contention to lead a larger project down the track.

                      With several of the company’s boldest personality types penciled to roll out the operation, you’ll not only develop skills that earn your right to throw your hat in the ring; those key players have an opportunity to see your competence. You can then work on building relationships with those stakeholders before you need to hit the ground running should you win the lead.

                      Greater job satisfaction comes with planning and choosing the lessons and opportunities you want to learn, not desperately flailing, floundering and hoping for the best.

                      6. Keep Reviewing Your Goal Posts and Be Amenable to Change

                      The word ‘career’ is indicative of a longer-term pathway of change, growth and development. The journey is dynamic.

                      You will accumulate new skills and let those you no longer need, become rusty. Your intrigue will be stimulated by new experiences, knowledge and people you meet. Your thinking will continue to expand, not shrink. As a result, your goalposts are likely to change.

                      A major part of enjoying a successful career is not just setting goals effectively, but regularly reviewing and readjusting them where necessary. However, moving the posts or the target still needs to take place by applying the same processes by which you originally created them. The strength of your emotional connection to those revised goals needs to be the same, if not stronger.

                      By asking yourself the following questions, you can assure your developmental and growth trajectory is still on course:

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                      • Would working toward these goals still allow me to honor my personal values, principles and ethics at the same capacity if not greater?
                      • Do the activities I need to undertake to meet these goals honor my highest priorities?
                      • Does this feel right for me and those who are nearest and dearest to me?
                      • Is this aligned with my passion?
                      • Is chasing this goal a right step for me to take now or is this a detour or distraction which could delay my greater plan?

                      Each of your career goals should have different review periods. Whatever you do, stick to the review schedule you set. It will not only keep you focused but help you see your progress (or lack thereof) and allow you to timely re-chart your course before you get too far down the track. You don’t want to waste time haphazardly heading in the wrong direction.

                      7. Be Prepared to Let Go

                      It can be unfathomable to us as to why others risk leaping into the unknown when everything truly appears fine and dandy in the career realm. The company provided stability, recognition, financial success, interesting projects and the promise of a promotion…what was wrong? Why now jump sideways to run a café or train in another field altogether?

                      Nothing may have been wrong at all. It was all going right. It was just the end of a chapter. Perhaps the yearning for the next step is actually taking a different trajectory entirely. You may want to simply experience a different rhythm. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a different passion.

                      If you have leaped from employee-land to freelancing or have made the reverse-jump (or you know someone who has), you will have quickly grown a different appreciation for pros and cons each work lifestyle brings. Working for yourself can bring the greater realization of your creativity, whether or not it can be monetized to earn you a living.

                      When your customers are buying you or a product you designed and fashioned, there is a direct level of appreciation and gratitude that can elevate your confidence in the way you have never experienced as an employee, regardless of your rank.

                      Similarly, there are times where we need to recognize our business ventures were adventures, not long-term life-changing empires. There are times we need to recognize that time is what provides the clearest limitation of how long we persist for in such pursuits.

                      We have to recognize the absence of enough financial, mental, emotional and physical breadcrumbs that tells us we’re no longer meant to push in that direction. At least, not for the present time.

                      The Bottom Line

                      Above all, keep the momentum. As long as you remain committed to pursuing work opportunities that allow you to honor your highest priorities, the truth of who you are and what you stand for, achieving ultimate job satisfaction and a successful career will never be too far away.

                      More Resources to Help Advance Your Career

                      Featured photo credit: Csaba Balazs via unsplash.com

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