Success is officially defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”. This accomplishment can be anything from achieving your business dream to completing a project you have been working on.
We all interpret success in different ways with the measure being objective depending on your goals or dreams. What is universal is that we strive to succeed in one way or another. Many of the world’s most influential men have built their success from virtually nothing, growing up with regular childhoods and in many cases even dropping out of school or college. Here we take a look at some of the men who built their careers on simply a vision and the quotes they have lived their lives by.
“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.”
SIR RICHARD BRANSON
FOUNDER OF THE VIRGIN GROUP
At the age of 16 Richard Branson dropped out of school and started his own magazine; Student. Run purely by students the first issue sold $8,000 worth of advertising and was an instant success. After growing up within London’s music scene Branson had the idea to begin a mail-order record company called Virgin to help fund his magazine. This led to Branson opening the first Virgin record store in London and this was the beginning of his empire. Today Virgin has expanded worldwide to cover countless sectors from holidays, flights, radio and even Virgin Galactic the Virgin spaceship. It’s one of the biggest companies in the world but Branson is still known for his grounded personality and the flexible way he treats his employees. Branson regularly gives inspirational talks around the world.
“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”
CO-FOUNDER, AND FORMER CHAIRMAN, AND CEO OF APPLE INC.
Steve Jobs single handily changed the technology industry with his inventions of the iPad, iPod and iPhone. Jobs’ revolutionary products have defined a generation of technology. Perhaps quite surprisingly, the inventor actually dropped out of college before founding Apple with Steve Wozniak in 1976. They created their first computer in Jobs’ parents’ home and funded it by selling his car. The co-founders are credited with revolutionising the computer industry by making products that were smaller, cheaper and more accessible to everyday consumers. By 1980 Apple Computer became a publicly traded company with a market value of $1.2 million by the end of its first day of trading. Sadly Jobs died in 2011 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer but his legacy lives on through the innovation of Apple.
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
Barack Obama changed the world when he became the first African-American President of The United States in 2008. But it was his attitude to life and politics that created his legacy. Obama was born in Hawaii and grew up with his grandparents while his mother lived in Kenya and he had no relationship with his father at this time. Obama grew up wanting to make a difference and in 1985 he moved to Chicago where he worked on the poor South Side as a community organiser for low-income residents. He visited his parent’s home country of Kenya soon after this and it was a life-changing trip for him. He returned with a sense of renewal and entered Harvard Law School in 1988. Obama had a career in law but also published a book; Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance in 1995. The book received praise from public figures and led to the beginning of Obama’s political career.
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
TECHNOLOGY ADVISOR AND FORMER CHAIRMAN OF MICROSOFT
Bill Gates first became fascinated with computers when he was at school. This type of technology was still in its infancy at the time but Gates spent all of his free time being examining computers and wrote his own program in BASIC computer language. At the age of just 15 Gates went into business with his friend Paul Allen and later dropped out of Harvard Law School to pursue his dream of working with computers. In 1975, Bill Gates and Paul Allen formed Micro-Soft, a blend of “micro-computer” and “software”. After a rough start, by 1975 the company was grossing around $2.5 million and was seen as one of the most revolutionary companies in the industry.
“I think a simple rule of business is, if you do the things that are easier first, then you can actually make a lot of progress.”
CEO AND FOUNDER OF FACEBOOK
Zuckerberg first had the idea for Facebook while at college and he founded the now multi-billion dollar company from his dorm room. Zuckerberg dropped out of college to concentrate on the site within a year Facebook had one million users. After a large investment in 2005 Facebook gained access to other colleges and schools, allowing users to create their own profiles and connect with others. The site soon began to attract the attention of businesses wanting to advertise on Facebook. Despite offers from companies including Yahoo! And MTV Zuckerberg refused to sell the company and wanted to focus on expanding the site. Facebook had its initial public offering, which raised $16 billion, making it the biggest internet IPO in history and the same year Zuckerberg personally negotiated a deal to buy Instagram. From his small dorm room to a multi-billion dollar business it seems there is no stopping him.
“I don’t design clothes, I design dreams.”
FASHION DESIGNER AND FOUNDER OF RALPH LAUREN CORPORATION
The designer began his five decades-long career designing neckties, and went on to create a global business with a style that has become iconic. Known for his impeccable tailoring it is perhaps Lauren that we must thank for creating the female suit and making it acceptable in today’s society. In 1967 Ralph Lauren designed his first range of men’s ties at just 28 years old. While working for tie manufacturer Beau Brummel the company’s president let him pursue his dream of starting his own line. He worked out of a single drawer from the showroom at The Empire State Building in New York, and hand delivered all of his creations to buyers in the city. He created his first line of menswear in 1968 and with hard work and a lot of persistence, his designers were taken on by Bloomingdale’s in 1969. They stocked his collection exclusively, making it the first time the department store had given a designer their own store within a store. After great success Ralph Lauren Corporation was launched in 1971 – beginning with a collection of tailored shirts for women. A full women’s collection was launched the following year. Within a year Lauren opened his first standalone store in Beverly Hills and he launched the iconic POLO Ralph Lauren logo – making the label synonymous with preppy American style.
“I work with people I admire and respect. It’s never because of who they are.”
LEE ALEXANDER MCQUEEN
FASHION DESIGNER AND FOUNDER OF ALEXANDER MCQUEEN
Lee McQueen was one of the most successful British designers at the time of his death in 2010. McQueen was born in London. His dad a taxi driver and his mum a teacher. After school McQueen began an internship at Savile Row. The skills he learned as an apprentice helped earn him a reputation in the fashion world as an expert in creating an impeccably tailored look. He was encouraged to enrol at Central St Martins college and received a master’s degree in fashion design in 1992. His graduation collection was bought in its entirety by fashion stylist Isabella Blow. Blow became McQueen’s mentor and encouraged him to launch his own fashion label that was inspired by her unique style. Blow used her contacts to help McQueen excel with his first collection. The designer’s early runway collections developed his reputation of controversy and shock tactics but also got him noticed on an international stage. In 1997 McQueen was appointed as Creative Director of Givenchy. While his first collection was unsuccessful McQueen toned down his designers and soon became highly successful with the brand but still continued to express his rebellious side with his own name label.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
FORMER PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a nonviolence anti-apartheid activist, politician and philanthropist who became South Africa’s first black president. Mandela directed a campaign of peaceful, nonviolent defiance against the South African government and its racist policies in his twenties. As a result Mandela was jailed and spent 27 years in prison for political offences. Despite this he was an inspiration to millions in South Africa and the world and he was recognised for his dedication to peace throughout his jail time and upon release. In 1994 Mandela became President of South Africa, something he never thought he would see in his lifetime. Mandela died in 2013 surrounded by his family.
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
FOUNDER OF THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY
Walt Disney was born in 1901 and co-founded Walt Disney Productions with his brother Roy. He had grown up drawing sketches and cartoons and in 1919 Disney moved to Kansas City to pursue a career as a newspaper artist. Soon after Disney decided to open his own animation business and recruited his friend Fred Harman as his first employee. Their first cartoon was screened at a local theatre and Disney was soon able to buy his own studio. The two created a series of seven-minute fairy tales that combined live action and animation. Unfortunately the company was declared bankrupt in 1923. Disney moved to LA where his began the Disney Brothers’ Studio with his brother Roy. The first Disney character was Mickey Mouse and the brothers created short animated stories featuring Mickey.
“A lot of people never use their initiative because no-one told them to.”
Despite being one of the most well-known artists of today Banksy’s identity still remains a mystery. The British graffiti artist rose to prominence for his controversial graffiti stencils in the late 1990s. Banksy’s work includes some of the most iconic images of the 21st century and despite his identity remaining a secret the incredibly talented artist has drawn attention of the world’s art industry. A recent piece of art made headlines when it was shredded after being sold at auction. The artwork that was listed as “Girl with a Balloon” was sold for over $1 million. Banksy had inserted a secret shredder within the frame in case the artwork was ever sold. After the shredding the artwork was said to have gained value.