5 Rags-to-Riches Stories That Will Inspire Your Career Journey

Building a career isn’t simple, and it’s easy to get discouraged when you feel like there are people out there with more resources, money, and connections than you. Well, we’ll let you in on a little secret – anyone can reach success. Take a look at these five rags-to-riches stories that prove you don’t have to be a victim of your circumstances.

1. Christopher Gardner

Christopher Gardner’s childhood was ridden with poverty, abuse and family illiteracy, but Gardner refused to let that keep him from his goals. With very few connections and resources, he managed to land a spot in a professional training program at a brokerage. Unfortunately, he ended up homeless while he tried to make ends meet due to the low salary his program offered. Today, Gardner is a multi-millionaire entrepreneur, investor, stockbroker, motivational speaker, and author behind the book, The Pursuit of Happyness. (source)



2. Oprah

Not only was Oprah’s childhood marked by extreme poverty and wavering living conditions, but she endured years of abuse from family members. After studying hard in school and taking risks to chase her dream, Oprah managed to escape her tumultuous life and began to pursue a career in media. Of course, the media industry mogul and former talk show host now lives comfortably as a billionaire. (source)


3. Howard Schultz

Did you know that the chairman and CEO of Starbucks grew up in public housing? After achieving a football scholarship to Northern Michigan University, Schultz was able to escape the projects and work his way up the corporate ladder. Today, Schultz is responsible for building Starbucks into the successful coffee empire we all know and love. (source)



4. J.K. Rowling

The genius behind the famed “Harry Potter” series didn’t always live as lucratively as she does now. As a single mother, Rowling relied on welfare checks to make ends meet for her and her daughter. The author herself once proclaimed, “I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless.” Thankfully, the passion she put into her books paid off, and she is now one of the wealthiest women in the world. (source)


5. John Paul DeJoria

A first generation American, DeJoria began working at the young age of 9 by selling Christmas cards and newspapers in order to support his struggling family. His determined spirit continued into his older years as he took on jobs like selling encyclopedias and pumping gas. After struggling with poverty and even homelessness, DeJoria can now call himself a billionaire and the co-founder of the renowned Paul Mitchell hair care line. (source)

Feeling inspired? These stories prove that anything is possible if you work for it!


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  1. Kimberly says:

    I appreciate your article but correct facts are pretty important. Sam Walton DID NOT own Starbucks. That would be Howard Shultz and Sam Walton owned Walmart !!!

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