Under the motto across the Atlantic of “self-made men”, many entrepreneurs have succeeded without having the basic financial means. Starting from nothing, they imposed themselves and sometimes even met with worldwide success. Who are these entrepreneurs, who were badly engaged at the start and yet display insolent success?
These millionaires who experienced poverty, we know them today in opulence, but their beginnings were difficult, to say the least. JK Rowling, MohedAltrad, François Pinault, and Ralph Lauren, had, to get out of misery, only their ambition, and their solid self-confidence. Tales of these beautiful acts of revenge on life.
- JK Rowling, from divorced mother to “bestseller”
Estimated net worth: $ 1 billion
The life of the creator of Harry Potter is almost as legendary as her creations. In the early 1990s, while her own mother was dying, the young teacher Joanne Rowling had the idea, while taking the train from Manchester to London, of a little wizard boarding at King’s Cross station. Before finishing the first volume of her saga, she is thrown out by her husband and then raises her daughter Jessica alone thanks to state food aid. While Suffering From Depression, She Ends From Harry Potter To The Wizarding School on paper towels which she finds in cafes, where she goes to let her daughter sleep. 400 million books sold, a successful adaptation to the cinema and an amusement park later, the empire born of the imagination of JK Rowling is evaluated at 15 billion dollars. All without a magic wand.
- MohedAltrad: the “king” of Montpellier was a Bedouin in Syria
Estimated net worth: 1.2 billion
First French winner of the “World Entrepreneur of the Year Award” in 2015, he is today the most influential figure in Montpellier. The group that bears his name, which has 7,000 employees worldwide, is one of the main private employers in the region, and he owns the city’s rugby club.
However, when he landed in Montpellier, MohedAltrad had only a monthly purse of 200 francs to live on. Coming from a Bedouin tribe in Syria, he recently said that he was the victim of rape: according to legend, his mother, forcibly exiled from the tribe, gave birth alone in the desert and cut the cord with her teeth.
She died soon after giving birth. Little Mohed was raised by his grandmother, in shame of being the son of a repudiated woman, without access to school, destined to become a shepherd. By dint of obstinacy, he manages to study and pass his bac to finally arrive in France for his higher studies.
Student engineer and computer scientist, the rest of his career resembles – remarkably – the success story of an ambitious businessman: he founds an IT company and then resells it for a good sum (at Matra), buys with this sum an SME in bankruptcy and will eventually set up a group, specializing in building materials, present in 16 countries. A life worthy of a novel; MohedAltrad, 39th fortune in France, will also end up telling it himself in a book, Badawi, published in 2002 by ActesSud.
- François Pinault: mocked because he was poor, he left high school
Personal wealth: 11.5 billion
When we see today François Pinault doing the day and the night of the art world (the foundation which bears his name will open in 2018 an exhibition center at the Bourse de commerce, in the center of Paris ) or in the top 10 of the French fortunes, hard to imagine poor. And yet, the former president of the Kering group (ex Pinault-Printemps-Redoute) had modest beginnings.
Breton pure stock (it is the case to say it), François Pinault, whose father was a wood merchant, leaves high school before obtaining the baccalaureate. He did his military service in 1962 in Algeria, just before the country’s independence. Back in France, he married the daughter of his father’s sawmill supplier, then took over the business from his stepfather. He gradually bought dozens of companies in this sector – he would later be known for his technique of acquiring companies at the best price. Gradually becoming financial, he increases his purchasing field – Conforama,Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga …).
If he gave up, in the early 2000s, the management of the group which bore his name to his son François-Henri, he remained the owner of the football club Stade Rennes and a collector of modern and contemporary art of the highest order. Not bad for the one who was made fun of in high school for his peasant origins.
- Ralph Lauren: before cutting pants, he sold them in a shop
Personal wealth: 7.7 billion
The idea of genius was right before his eyes. Born in the Bronx in New York, Ralph Lauren had left university to join the military in the mid-1960s. He then started working as a salesperson in a Brooks Brothers store. By dint of seeing the same costumes so traditional, he thought that customers would be ready to accept chic clothes, but more varied and colorful. Bingo: in a few months, he set up a business of 500,000 dollars … and that, even before the fashion of the polo shirt that made his signature.
Success is never served on a silver platter, anyone can achieve it through hard work and determination.
When someone strives hard to achieve something, the whole of Universe conspires to help him achieve his goal.