In this post, we thought it would be interesting to explore several interesting facts about famous entrepreneurs so we took a look at the biographies of seven of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs, concentrating on some rather unorthodox aspects of their lives.
Some of our subjects came from humble backgrounds and would not have been deemed creditworthy by certain financial institutions when starting out in the world. All those listed below though ended up by doing rather well.
Warren Buffett (born 1930)
Although he officially became a billionaire in 1985, the business magnate, investor and philanthropist Buffet is a modest and unassuming man. He still lives in the same small 3-bedroom house he bought more than five decades ago. His home does not even have a fence around it. He drives himself without security and he reportedly does not carry a cell phone or have a computer on his desk. In 2006, he announced – just like Bill Gates – that he would give 85% of his wealth to charity.
Richard Branson (born 1950)
The British owner of more than 400 companies under the umbrella of the Virgin Group – with a net worth of 4.2 billion dollars – Richard Branson’s first business venture was a magazine called Student at the age of 16.
In 1970, he set up an audio-record mail-order business. In 1972, he opened a chain of record stores, Virgin Records, later known as Virgin Megastores. Branson’s Virgin brand grew rapidly during the 1980s, as he set up Virgin Atlantic Airways and expanded the Virgin Records music label.
Despite (or because of) his enormous success, in 2007, Branson started a group called ‘The Elders’ with Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan, and former US president Jimmy Carter. The goal of the group is to find new ways to end human suffering, share wisdom, and find peaceful resolutions to difficult conflicts.
Jennifer Lopez (born 1969)
Described as the most influential Hispanic performer in the United States, Lopez is widely credited with breaking barriers in the entertainment industry for Hispanic people.
The middle child of poor Puerto Rican parents, when Lopez was born, the family was living in a small apartment. A few years later, her parents had saved up enough money to be able to purchase a two-storey house.
With records sales of 75 million and a cumulative film gross of over $2 billion, Lopez is the most influential Latin-American entertainer in the US.
Charlize Theron (born 1975)
The South African born Oscar-winning beauty – and now THE face of many cosmetic brands which surely grant her some nice ‘earners’ on the side – comes from a turbulent background. Her alcoholic father was shot dead by her mother (lawfully) when he attacked her in 1991. She then paid a one-way ticket for her daughter to travel to Los Angeles in 1994.
Her career started when she tried to cash a check in a bank (that her mother had sent her) but the teller refused her. An agent in the queue saw the exchange and offered to represent Theron. Now worth $85mm and with several blockbuster movies under her belt, including The Italian Job, Monster (for which she won an Oscar) and The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, Theron is one of the biggest female stars in Hollywood and the strength of her name means that she is likely to forge more personal brands with the passage of time.
Amancio Ortega (born 1936)
At the age of 13, Ortega began working for a shirt-maker as a delivery boy. He later worked for a range of stores and tailors; his main focus was to study about how products and costs evolved as they traveled from the manufacturer to the consumer. As a result, he became focused on the importance of getting products directly to the consumer without a middle man. In 1963, at the age of 27, Amancio Ortega founded his own company called Confecciones Goa.
Ortega quickly became one of the wealthiest men in the world but he continues to keep a low profile from his home in Galicia in the northwest of Spain and is rarely photographed.
Oprah Winfrey (born 1954)
Oprah Winfrey needs no introduction but some may be surprised that she has turned out so self-confident given her turbulent childhood. Winfrey ran away frequently to escape sexual abuse. She became pregnant when she was fourteen and gave birth to a premature baby boy. The baby died two weeks later.
Even though Oprah Winfrey came from a poor, disadvantaged upbringing, she has managed to accumulate quite a fortune following the huge success of her chat shows and production company. In 2006, her personal net worth was estimated to be $1.5 billion. She is the only African-American billionaire in the world.
Carlos Slim (born 1940)
The first ‘world’s richest’ man from a developing nation (Mexico), Slim and his siblings were taught basic business practises by their father. At the age of 12, Slim bought shares in a Mexican bank. At the age of 17, he earned 200 pesos a week working for his father’s company. He went on to study civil engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, while simultaneously teaching algebra and linear programming there. Slim began his career as a trader in Mexico. He would go on to form his own brokerage firm – a firm that later expanded to invest in individual businesses, ranging from construction and manufacturing to retail and restaurants.
América Móvil, which in 2010 was Latin America’s largest mobile-phone carrier, accounted for around US$49 billion of Slim’s wealth by the end of 2010. His corporate holdings as of May 2013 have been estimated at US$70 billion.
He now has interests in over 200 companies, accruing him almost $30 million daily.