Everyone has to start somewhere, and rarely do you ever start off on the top. Unless you are someone like LeBron James getting drafted by an NBA team straight out of high school and inserted into the starting lineup for the Cleveland Cavaliers, you more than likely have to pay your dues first. This occurs for everyday people like you and me, and also for rich and famous, from Louis Chenevert to Jeff Bezos.
Below are a few people that began their career far away from where they ended it. Isn’t that what they always say anyway? Life is not about how it starts, but how it ends that matters. If your life is not going exactly where you want it to be currently, take some inspiration from these men. Your big break could be just around the corner.
For those that are not familiar with Louis Chenevert (who we’ve written about here), here is a quick rundown of his accomplishments. He became CEO and President of United Technologies Corporation (UTC) in 2008 and continued until he retired to focus on other things in 2014. UTC is one of the biggest conglomerates in the entire world, composed of many billion dollar businesses. They got their start in the aerospace industry and continue to build upon their empire.
Chenevert went to college in Montreal and when he graduated, he was hired at a General Motors plant for the assembly line. However, he did gather some needed knowledge from his experience. When asked about the worst job he ever had, he made several good points about how it can be a learning experience if you look at it the correct way.
“My first job at GM as a first line supervisor in an assembly plant on 2nd shift (speaking about his worst job). While the job was an incredibly difficult assignment, this is where I learned the power of people and how they wanted to make a difference, if only management would listen to them. The employees knew how to unlock productivity and solve problems. This experience would shape my support of operations for the next 37 years.”
Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. (EPE) is a billion dollar corporate entity that was formed officially in 1979 by Priscilla Presley. She was the ex-wife of the legendary entertainer Elvis Presley and was placed in charge of everything Elvis by his will that kicked in after he died in 1977. EPE is a corporate entity that manages assets, including Graceland. But they do much more than that. They license Elvis-related products, develop music, radio, film, and television productions, maintains a worldwide presence, and handles his music publishing. The man Elvis Presley died over 40 years ago, the image and presence will live on forever.
But Elvis Presley started off about as far away from the top as possible. His family often survived off of some sort of welfare and his twin brother died at birth. They were always short on money, so Elvis started working when he was in high school as an usher at the local movie theater. It didn’t pay much, but he enjoyed watching all the different films. He even picked up some of his acting skills from watching the greats like James Dean and Marlon Brando on the screen while he was working.
Things did not end well for Elvis as a movie usher. A girl that worked the concession stand had a bit of a crush on him and would often give him free candy from the stand. Once her boyfriend found out about it, he found Elvis at the theater and got into a fight with him. This caused Elvis to get fired on the spot.
Warren Buffett is an American businessman that has a net worth of about $76 billion, so he has done pretty well for himself I would say. He didn’t start off as a billionaire though. At age 13, he was hired for his first job as a newspaper delivery boy. This is a pretty ordinary first job for many boys, but Buffett went one step further and even deducted his bike from his taxes that year. Later on as a teenager, he even began a pinball machine business to make some money. There are some people in the world that can say they have had a billionaire delivering their newspaper everyday.
Jeff Bezos founded the online giant Amazon and has over $70 billion to show for it. He didn’t start off with more money in his bank account that some entire countries. Bezos was a lot like the rest of us. His first job was behind the grill at McDonald’s. He would be the one to flip the burgers for the masses. It may not seem like too important of a job, but Bezos learned something from it. He realized how important it was to move things quickly to the customer. Amazon is built around this premise today.
Mark Cuban is most prominently known as a real life billionaire starring on the television show Shark Tank and owner of the Dallas Mavericks. He may have a hand in several successful businesses, but he has also been involved in some real clunkers. At the age of 12, he would sell garbage bags from house to house. His neighbors must have loved him. Then in college Cuban was a disco instructor right around 1978 and 1979. Unfortunately for him, everyone knows that disco died right around those two years. It was the wrong time to start a business as a disco instructor. Luckily for Cuban, he had the whole technology thing to fall back on. He made his fortune off of a couple ideas for startup companies in the tech world.