What's the best success story
These 6 success stories show that anyone can do it
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One of the most popular beliefs is that we're made for mediocrity. We marvel at people who are mega-successful and known all over the world. We read their books, listen to their music, buy their products or tickets and dream of a similar life. At the same time, we are convinced that these people come from another universe with which we have nothing to do.
Of course that's not true. Almost every successful person comes from normal or difficult circumstances. Today it seems as if these people, their art or their companies have always existed. As if they had always dominated their industry. We believe others have become megastars overnight. But that is almost never true. Every success story started out very modestly and it always involves a lot of work. I would like to introduce you to six of them today. I've been following some of these successful people for years, and I've read biographies of others. Aside from humble beginnings and hard work, they all have something in common.
1. Ray Kroc, the entrepreneur
The name Ray Kroc won't mean anything to you if you haven't studied the history of McDonalds. McDonalds is one of those incredibly big companies that seem to have existed forever. Of course this is not true. The McDonalds empire only came into being 60 years agowhen Ray Kroc took on the company. He was already 52 years old and sold milkshake machines. One of his clients: a small local restaurant called McDonalds. When he took a closer look, it caught him the vision of a global chain. First of all, he placed some franchisees for the owners. Later he bought the whole business from them because the owners did not share his vision. Expansion has often been a financial tightrope walk. His own bank account was secondary.
A mediocre milkshake machine salesman at the age of 52 became an entrepreneur who created by far the largest restaurant chain in the world. I read about this story in his book Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonalds.
By the way: I found Made in America by Sam Walton, the founder of WalMart, equally exciting. He too started with a single business.
2. Warren Buffett, the investor
You should know this name. Warren Buffett is the best known and arguably most successful investor in the world. For decades he has generated high returns for himself and the shareholders of his Berkshire Hathaway company. Since he has the right nose so often, that's what it is called Oracle of Omaha. But Buffett's success has nothing to do with clairvoyancebut with a strong sense of business and a lot of work.
Even as a child he tried to make money with small businesses. His big breakthrough came later when he bought stocks of undervalued companies. He doesn't make his decisions because he reads “Der Aktionär” or hangs around on stock exchange websites, but rather because he reads thousands of annual reports in great detail. For decades he has been sitting in his study for countless hours every day, studying the reports. Hard intellectual work that hardly any investor can muster. It's his passion, he enjoys it, so he invests the necessary time and it works again and again.
Buffett is known to live very humbly. He can do little with money in his private life. However, he loves to make money to earn. After his death, 99 percent of his wealth will be donated to charity.
I read about Warren Buffett in the interesting book Buffet: The Story of an American Capitalist.
3. Leo Babauta, the blogger
From one of the richest people in the world we come to Leo Babauta, who runs one of the most widely read blogs with zenhabits. Even if I don't read it regularly, I've been following Leo for a number of years.
Leo Babauta was divorced, in debt, overweight, and addicted to nicotine. At some point he flipped the switch and changed his habits. Today he runs successful businesses around his blogs, is debt-free, no longer smokes, eats vegan, runs marathons - all while he is a family with six children Has! Leo's story shows that anyone can turn their life around, even when circumstances are less than ideal.
Today he is one of the most respected bloggers in the English-speaking world. Not just because of its range, but because of its authenticity. He does not sell his assets for short term profit (He receives enough offers), but puts his readers at the center. The income will come later.
4. Stephen King, the writer
Last year I read The Life and Writing of Stephen King. The book is half a biography, half a guide to writing. I'm not a fan of his books, but I found the insight into the life of the author behind the books interesting. As a bestselling author, he too started out small. At school he wrote for the school newspaper, later he tried his hand at short stories. He wrote these while doing boring work in a laundry. He then worked as a teacher.
For years he wrote almost every day - it doesn't matter whether he earned something with it or not. Only after a few years did he sell his first novel (Carrie) to a publisher. That was his breakthrough. Until then, he lived a modest life, but never gave up his passion.
Speaking of writers: Even more striking and well-known is the story of J. K. Rowling, who lived on the subsistence level before starting a publishing house Harry Potter bought.
5. Louis C.K., the comedian
I've been working as a comedian for a long time. Not that I want to be one! But I like comedy and I am very grateful to comedians. You know the years of hard work. No comedian goes on stage and is immediately funny. You have to try out what works and what doesn't in the audience. They work their way up from the smallest nightclubs to the largest stages. This is the very hard school. And all to make people laugh. They make my life better!
One of my favorite comedians is Louis C.K. It is hardly known in Germany, but in the USA the hottest comedian in recent years. At the age of 17 he tried - unsuccessfully - on a small stage for the first time. In his 20s he could barely pay the rent and somehow made his way through. He made his way up as a joke writer for other comedians. He made his breakthrough beyond the age of 40. Today he fills big stages, his shows are broadcast on HBO. He sells them on his website for an almost ridiculous $ 5. Money is not the most important thing.
I always enjoy looking at it. When I'm in a good mood, I can laugh out loud at his jokes. When I'm in a bad mood, I feel a little better afterwards. That's what he worked for. It took 25 years.
By the way: One of my other favorites is Jerry Seinfeld. In the 90s, he was the top earning entertainer in the world. He too came from the bottom the hard way to the top.
6. Coolio, the musician
As a rapper, Coolio achieved his breakthrough in 1995 Gangsta’s Paradise, one of those universal songs that even I like (I don't usually listen to rap music) and still like to listen to today. Suddenly it was there, lasted a few years, and then went underground again. What I didn't know: Before Gangsta’s Paradise he worked on his career for 17 years. That's how long it took before he landed his first hit. That's about 34 times longer than most bloggers can hold out!
I learned about his story in a podcast interview that appeared a few months ago. The sound quality is unfortunately very poor, but it is worth listening to. Coolio's tip to people who work on their art or passion: "Don't do it for the money. Or the girls. " If it had only been about money, he probably wouldn't have lasted for 17 years.
Tip:Every week on his podcast, James Altucher speaks to people who made it big. With his targeted questions, he often teases out their backstory: How long it took to make the breakthrough and how they were thought to be mediocre or were laughed at until then. Until the day came when a large audience appreciated her skills.
I could get more stories off my bookshelf: Nelson Mandela, Michael Jackson, Marylin Manson, Mike Tyson, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein. It's the same story over and over again: They were all normal people like you and me. Some were worse off than you and me. What sets them apart from most people is that they kept working even when it looked like they would never succeed. They just kept going. They invested their 10,000 hours (or more) and became the best in their fields. Money was never a motivator for them. Those who are only interested in money cannot hold out for so long.
To be honest, I used to have little sympathy for people who tried "breadless art". I believed they should do something “right” and not be on other people's pockets. Over time, I've changed my mind. The biographies of these successful people probably contributed to this. They show me what is possible if you only believe in yourself and do your thing.
I have more biographies on the bedside table for the next few weeks. I expect similar stories of passions, a lot of work, and a long climb to success.
Tip: Before reading these biographies, the book The Magic of Thinking Big inspired me to not only think average, but ... Big.
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