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Inspirational People

Where It All Began for the World's Richest CEOs: Their First Jobs

Among some of the richest CEOS in the world including Ralph Lauren, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Carlos Slim and Warren Buffett.
Images of Ralph Lauren, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Carlos Slim and Warren Buffett.

Today, they’re some of the most powerful men in the world, leading top enterprises that are known to most people on earth. The world’s biggest CEOs are cashing in on billions yearly, but also leading their companies to being the most successful around. Having examined their roots, we discovered that each self-made man had a story to tell. Most worked for minimum wage at some point, from selling magazines to serving in the US army.

Here’s What We Found…

Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren Biography 2016
Photograph of Ralph (Lifshitz) Lauren taken by Edgar de Evia in 1978.

First up, Ralph Lauren, board member, CEO and fashion designer at Ralph Lauren. His net worth is at an estimate of around US$ 8 billion. He was born as Ralph Lifshitz to Jewish immigrants in the Bronx, New York City, 1939. According to the January Forbes ranking, he is now the 155th richest person in the world. One of his first jobs was selling ties to his classmates for a few bucks. In one of his yearbooks, he states confidently that he wants to be a millionaire.

Ralph Lauren later served in the army before moving on to working as a sales assistant and a sales rep for a tie company.

His design ideas were continually rejected there. It wasn’t until he opened his own tie boutique that the success was flowing in. This is when he started the Polo design lines and opened a shop at Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. His story is a true rags to riches tale.


Bill Gates

Bill Gates Biography
Picture of Bill Gates taken by Ben Fisher (GAVI Alliance) in 2011.

Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft and ranking at a net worth of US$ 80 billion, has a different biography. He was born to a rather prominent lawyer and a very competitive family. He was intended to have a similar law career, but took an interest in programming instead.

At age 13, Bill Gates had written his first computer program on a General Electric machine.

Gates went on to study programming and source codes at Harvard, developing algorithms. He dropped out of Harvard after meeting Steve Ballmer and Paul Allen, and started his own software company – Microsoft. The rest is history.


Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett Berkshire Hathaway
Photograph of Warren Buffett taken at the White House in 2014.

Warren Buffett, the most successful investor of the 20th century and CEO and Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, totaling at a net worth of US$ 67 billion. At a young age, he was already interested in the stock market, the stock exchange and investing.

Warren Buffett’s first ventures in the business were selling chewing gum, Coca-Cola bottles and magazines, going from door to door and building salesmanship abilities.

Later on, his rise began as an investment clerk.


Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg CEO
Photograph of Mark Zuckerberg taken by Jason McELweenie in 2008.

Another interesting biography to look at is Mark Zuckerberg’s. The Co-founder and CEO of Facebook began taking an interest in computers and writing software at an early age – like Bill Gates, he excelled at it.

Mark Zuckerberg was even called a prodigy by his tutors.

Zuckerberg began creating computer games by himself and selling them to other kids. He built the website “Facesmash” for fun at Harvard as a college student, and from then on the way to Facebook was paved.


Carlos Slim

About Carlos Slim Billionaire
Photograph of Mexican businessman Carlos Slim taken by José Cruz (Agência Brasil) in 2007.

Lastly, let’s take a look at Carlos Slim. As CEO and chairman of Telmex and Samsung Mexico, he’s also known as the holder of the title “World’s Wealthiest Person” (2007, 2010-2013). His father began teaching him about the basics of business and investment at a very young age, placing specific value on financial statements and financial profitability.

At age 11, Slim made his first investment, buying a government saving bond.

He went on to start a career in stock trading, and became recognised as one of the richest people in the world.

In conclusion, examining different biographies and backgrounds, one thing becomes clear. The one thing all these men have in common is not only the early drive and will to be successful, but moreover the jump into the business world and courage to take risks. This taught them invaluable lessons that they are most likely still grateful for today.

Editor: Derin Cag (Founder of RichTopia)

Inspired by: Tim Campbell MBE (Founder of Bright Ideas Trust)



Image of Derin Cag
Derin Cag
Founder & CEO
London, UK