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Rags to Riches: Three Inspiring Stories of the Successful

Rags to Riches: Three Inspiring Stories of the Successful
Alison Storm

With the untimely passing of Apple Founder Steve Jobs, many people are taking time to look back on his life. He was a college drop out who went on to become a multi-billionaire, becoming one of the most well-known CEOs in the world. But the truth is, there are many inspiring rags to riches stories. There's nothing quite like hearing about someone who took nothing and created something remarkable with it, just like these men and women.

Entrepreneur Mentor Ali Brownali brown

Over the past two years Ali Brown has been ranked as one of Ernst & Young's Winning Women Entrepreneurs, a Forbes' Women to Watch, and she was even featured on the season finale of ABC's Secret Millionaire. It's pretty incredible when you consider how far she's come in such a short period of time. Ali spent most of her 20s bouncing in and out of entry-level advertising jobs in New York City. According to her website, "I finally realized that I should be an entrepreneur! I was working in a tiny company and was doing everything from talking to clients, to servicing accounts, to getting coffee for people, to fixing the fax machine. That was when I realized that I had the skills I needed to do this on my own."

She quit her job and tried to make it on her own, learning all she could from marketing and success books. She started building her own business, maxing out her credit cards, until she hit bottom. "I remember one night going to the ATM," she says on her website. "I was meeting some friends for drinks, and I couldn't even take out a $20 bill. My balance was $18.56. I will never forget that number. I had to call them and cancel and go home. I had maxed out my credit cards. I had been putting all I had into my little start-up business."

Fortunately she stuck with it and within five years she became a millionaire by serving and teaching entrepreneurs strategies for success. She now offers programs, courses, seminars and events, serving as a mentor to thousands of business owners. And one of the things that appeals to so many is how she took almost nothing and created her own Ali Brown empire.

Author and Business Owner Mark AsheAuthor Mark Ashe

Author Mark Ashe says he’s living the life most people dream of. No, he didn’t win the lottery. And he’s not a celebrity. But he is debt free and wealthy, a claim most Americans today can’t make. Ashe, author of Your Money and Your Life, writes about growing up in a financially illiterate home and how encounters with wealthy men impacted his relationship with money. Using solid financial principles, Ashe was able to turn his meager police officer’s salary into millions.

He made up his mind to compensate for his lack of formal education by educating himself. He asked every successful person he met to tell him which book had been the most beneficial to them, and he read them all. With only a high-school education and little in the way of qualifications for business, Ashe went on to build one of Atlanta’s prominent home improvement companies and was financially independent by his mid-forties.

He's reduced his work week to ten hours. While he's active in the oversight of his business, he also has the privilege to spend almost all of his time with his wife of twenty-one years, Tracy, and their three daughters on their beautiful farm in the hills of north Georgia. He's a good example of why America is known as the land of opportunity.

Businessman John Paul DeJoriaJohn Paul Dejoria

Chances are you've bought some of John Paul DeJoria's hair care products. The Paul Mitchell brand is said to have annual revenues of around $900 million and Forbes Magazine says he's worth $4 billion. He was born in 1944 and eventually ended up in a foster home because his single mother couldn't support her children. DeJoria spent a large part of his childhood in an East LA street gang and was voted "least likely to succeed."

According to various reports, DeJoria was homeless not once, but twice in his life. He told Entrepreneur about the experiences: "Once, when I was about 22 years old, and I was a victim of circumstances. And I had a son, a 2-year-old son. The other time was when I started John Paul Mitchell Systems in 1980. I wasn't getting along with my wife at the time. So I had left and given her all the money. We had a backer for Paul Mitchell Systems putting in a half-million dollars. That money was supposed to arrive that day. Never got a penny. So I just slept in my car. And I slept in my car for the first two weeks when I started the company."

Besides hair care products, DeJoria has also experienced huge success in his line of high-end tequila, Patron. He launched Paul Mitchell with $700 in 1980, during a very tough economy. His advice to other business owners? "You can do it, no matter what you have."


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