In this world it takes dedication and courage in order to make something of yourself. It doesn’t matter what your background is; if you have the desire and you’re willing to put in the work then it’s possible to find success. As Brooker T. Washington said, “I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed.” The following seven men when they started out were average Americans if not disadvantaged and they didn’t let anything get in their way and they were able to form empires.

Ralph Lauren – Ralph grew up in the Bronx. As a child he made ties and sold them to classmates so he could buy nice suits. He knew as a kid he wanted to make and design clothes so he worked for Beau Brumwell Neckwear which allowed him to design and sell his own brand “Polo”. The ties became popular and he started designing women’s and men’s wear and introduced the Polo shirt. Because of his success he started his own company and now has 79 stores across the U.S.

Andrew Carnegie – Carnegie immigrated when he was 13 to the U.S. He had a number of jobs and saved his money. He worked for the Telegraphy Co and invested his savings into railroads and later into steel. Carnegie created a steel and iron empire, but also donated over $350 million to different organizations during his lifetime.

Puff Daddy – Combs was raised in Harlem. He grew up very poor so to earn extra money he decided to be a paper boy but he was too young so he took the routes of older boys and gave them half of his earnings. He went on to intern at Uptown Records and became the executive but was fired in 1993. He formed his own company- Bad Boy Records. Since then he has produced rap records, a clothing line, cologne, restaurant and television series.

Milton S. Hershey – Had a father who had several unsuccessful businesses and his parents divorced. He dropped out of fourth grade and did odd jobs until he became an apprentice to a candymaker. He quit and tried to start several businesses but they failed. He eventually started a caramel factory and sold it for $1 million before starting his chocolate factory.

Ben and Jerry – Ben and Jerry were childhood friends that went on to college but dropped out and then reunited. Neither were doing well professionally so they decided to open an ice cream shop. They paid $5 for a correspondence course on ice cream making. It became a hit and they sold the brand in 2000 for $326 million dollars.

John Sperling – Grew up in a poor sharecropping family. He was Dyslexic and semiliterate when he graduated high school. He served in the military went to college and eventually earned his PhD from Cambridge. He served as a professor but at 53 he decided more needed to be done so he started the University of Phoenix and he’s now a billionaire.

Guy Kawasaki – Grew up in Honolulu to a struggling but hard working family. He graduated from high school went to Stanford and earned his degree in psychology then went to law school but dropped out and entered an MBA program. He sold jewelry but then went to work for Apple. He eventually started Fog City Software, Garage and several other successful companies including Alltop.

These men did not come from money but they made it on their own. Through sheer determination they were able to plan, produce, and sell products or services the public needed or wanted. They devoted much of their lives to their ideas and many failed before they ever succeeded. If you want to be successful then you’re going to need to put in time and effort. And one way to improve your knowledge is by getting an education. Running a company is demanding and challenging so it’s a good idea to get as much knowledge and skills as you can

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