It can be easy to think that the world’s richest and influential people live in a different world. They are leading their chosen industries and live lives that we can only imagine in dreams.

However, not all these rich and powerful were born to a life of luxury and power. Most of them used to work on jobs that you don’t think they are familiar with. A few may even surprise you because the jobs they had were so far from what career they have now.

Here are 10 of the world’s most powerful and richest people and what first jobs they did before they reached where they are today:

Jeff Bezos

Before he started the online retail giant, Jeff Bezos used to work for McDonald’s. He used to work around the grill and had experienced the daily rush during his shifts.

In the book “Golden Opportunity: Remarkable Careers That Began at McDonald’s,” Bezos shared that he was able to adapt to the rush thanks to his manager.

The manager, he shared, kept things fun and helped Bezos and his co-workers focus. Read: The best ways to motivate your employees

Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban first worked when he was 12 years old after his dad told him to get a job if he wanted expensive shoes. He asked his dad how he could get a job with his age and he got one with the help of his dad’s friends.

His dad’s friend needed someone to sell garbage bags. Cuban went from door to door to sell the bags for $3. Thanks to that experience, he was able to learn the tricks on how to become a successful entrepreneur. Read: The Difference Between Entrepreneurial Success & Failure Is You

Today, he is now the owner of the NBA team, Dallas Mavericks, and a successful entrepreneur. He also helps budding entrepreneurs get started as one of the mentors for the ABC hit show, Shark Tank.

Kat Cole

Kat Cole used to work for Hooters before she rose through the ranks and became the president of baked goods brand Cinnabon. Her first job was a hostess when she was 17 years old.

After two years, she became one of Hooters’ top employees and she was offered to expand the business in Australia. She took the offer and found herself getting promoted as vice president when she turned 26.

Today, she leads Cinnabon and also became the group president for FOCUS Brands.

Michael Dell

Dell is one of the largest computer brands in the US and its founder and CEO did not start his career in the computer industry.

When he was 12 years old, he started working as a dish scrubber.

He would later become one of the frontrunners for the PC’s popularity and is now worth $18.7 billion.

Richard Branson

The founder of Virgin did not reach his position without starting from square one.

In one post on LinkedIn, Branson shared that he and his best friend Nik Powell started a small business together when they were 11 years old. They sold parakeets to their classmates, but they had to stop because the parakeets multiplied so fast that they can’t keep up.

They also tried to sell fir trees during Christmas but rabbits ate their stock before it grew.

As he grew older, he continued to pursue various gigs that allowed him to establish Virgin as the empire that it is today.

Beth Comstock

The woman behind the creation of Hulu and General Electric’s vice chair started her career working for Rubbermaid.

She shared in LinkedIn that she took the job after her college freshman year. She worked on the assembly line and made kitchen tools. However, the work proved to be overwhelming but she understood through the job the importance of teamwork.

She also saw how important the team is in overcoming challenges, especially if they work together. Read: 10 Ways to Improve Your Workplace Relationships

Warren Buffett

Before he established the billion-dollar empire, Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett used to sell newspapers when he was young. He started working as a paperboy when he was 13 years old.

For a year, he was able to save and invested $1,200 from his savings to get 40-acre farmland. His business skills enabled him to build his empire that is now worth $61.2 billion.

Jacki Zehner

Goldman Sachs’ first female partner first worked in Canada as a concession stand seller. She would sell hotdogs during the game of her local team Kelowna Buckaroos.

She said that her work in the concessions stand was perfect since she learnt how to get around trading in Wall Street through the experience.

In 1996, she would later work with Goldman Sachs and found the charity Women Moving Millions.

Marissa Mayer

Yahoo!’s ex-CEO was originally studying to become a doctor when she found her interest shifting to computer science after a class she took. She also worked as a checkout clerk.

After she finished college, she took up a job at Google as a female engineer. During her stint in Google, she assisted in the creation of Google Maps and Gmail.

After Google, she would move to Yahoo! and became its head when she was 37. Read: How to Manage a Team When You’re Younger Than Everyone Else

Elon Musk

Before he set his sights in conquering space and introducing innovations, Elon Musk first worked as a lumber mill janitor to make a living. But, this did not stop him from inventing a lot of things that led him to the creation of Paypal, OpenAI, Tesla and SpaceX.

A fun fact about his pursuits is that Musk is not an expert in these fields. But, it did not stop him from pursuing his interests and inspire others to support his innovations.

In Not So Many Words…

If you want to become successful, you will need to start from somewhere. These 10 individuals proved that even if you start from odd jobs, you can find the right opportunity to become successful.

If they were able to do it, so can you. Be patient and the opportunity will knock on your door even if you don’t have the background to pursue it.

Inspired much?

Want to read more inspirational stories of successful people?
Little Known Facts of Famous Male Entrepreneurs
Little Known Facts of Famous Female Entrepreneurs
Lessons from Actors & Actresses

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37 replies on “The First Jobs of Highly Successful People

  1. Here , in Lebanon, we have a saying that climbing a ladder is step by step .
    ” طلوع السلم درجة درجة”
    This saying applies to all what is mentioned in this article …
    Love from Lebanon…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for posting this article, I will definitely share it with my students on Monday. I am teaching a class on stepping out with faith to pursue your calling.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Worthy examples, Kally! Nobody offered any of these people a CEO position at age 16,. Nor did they start as Vice President, then, hey presto, a couple promotions later, and they got to where they are now.

    In fact, working upward through the ranks is absolutely a prerequisite for any of these jobs. How else to acquire the ability to work with all kinds of people? What better preparation for the diverse job skills needed?

    It’s a path any one (or more) of us could be on right now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe that these successful people didn’t think they will get so big. They worked towards a dream, a passion to get their ideas out and share it with others, hopefully to make the world a better place for everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tom and it is true that nowadays many kids are trying to get away with quick rich scheme like being an influencer. I rather my own child take on jobs that are humble and hard work.


  4. Interesting post. I think having connections often gets people an interview but I’d like to think that people get promotions from within too. I noticed that many of the examples started at age 12, delivering newspapers etc, but now those jobs are gone since online news has taken over. It seems like now young people want to be paid as Influencers and don’t want to work hard. I can’t imagine Bezos working at McDonalds, wow. Maybe that’s why many Amazon employees say they’re overworked and underpaid; he’s using McDonald’s as the model?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bezos probably like many others who started from the bottom, believes in hard work and long hours will achieve success instead of asking for handouts from their parents or some quick rick scheme that they get off the internet. It is interesting that nowadays many kids think that being an influencer is consider a good part-time job and not a mere hobby.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bezos is from a hardworking generation, I think he should treat his employees better and he should pay taxes though. CEO’s get paid too much and workers get paid too little. I think kids is a good way to describe them, they seem very entitled to luxury and instant fame for just being online. I wonder what will happen with our society. Robots will do the work probably.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, I agree that Bezos should treat his employees better. I have heard horror stories from friends who are working in Amazon. It is not about being paid less but also the culture in the company.

          I am trying my hardest to make sure my kid will not be a self-entitled person. Hopefully, she will not look into internet for instant fame and acknowledgement. But that is another 10 more years to go before she turn 13. So 10 more years for me to drill “Work Hard and Work Smart” into her.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I think all workers should be treated with respect and have benefits and a living wage that matches the stand of living, corporate greed makes me angry. I’m sure she’ll follow your good example, kids usually follow their parent’s teaching (unless the parents were terrible). I can tell from your posts that you’re a good, hardworking person.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Kally, This post is so inspiring ✨ No matter where you are and what you do, if you want and if you work toward it, you’ll eventually get it, and that’s the reality ✨ Thanks for this beautiful share and for making us inspired with these famous personalities ✨Have a beautiful Sunday ✨💐

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Simon. I truly believe that if you follow your passion and you are determine to make it happen, it will happen eventually. We just need to be patient. Have an awesome week!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, this list is full of surprises! For some reason, the idea of Jeff Bezos working at MacDonald’s cracks me up, even though it’s a very common first job. What I really appreciate is that you include the lessons these successful people drew from their less-glamorous first jobs. Just the fact that they learned from those jobs rather than simply grumbling about having them is a good indication of the mindset that leads to success.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very interesting post. It’s good to know a lot of these wealthy people started in such humble jobs and at such young ages like 13. The example of the lady working at Hooters and later becoming a CEO stands out for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is an important lesson for young people. Life throws curve balls. We must be willing to apply ourselves to the opportunities at hand. Sometimes that means taking a job that does not seem “glamorous” and making the best of things. Evey situation in life has something to teach us, if we are willing to listen. Often, we learn skills in hardship we might not be able to learn any other way. Wishing you much success in your own life, A. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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