7 Surprising Past Jobs of Successful Entrepreneurs

Ever wondered whether successful entrepreneurs today have had surprising past jobs?

Not everyone is groomed for entrepreneurship from a young age or born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

The journey to success takes you on many highways and byways and through many trials and tribulations, but reaching the finishing line is that moment of triumph that outshines all the previous struggles.

Unconventional career paths of these successful entrepreneurs are particularly inspiring because of all the obstacles on the road and the difficult maneuvering in unfavorable winds.


7 Surprising Past Jobs of Successful Entrepreneurs

Check out this awesome list of the surprising past jobs of successful entrepreneurs!


1. Warren Buffett – Newspaper Boy

Surprising Past Jobs - Warren Buffett

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Building a stellar career is something that must be conducted block by block and in some cases, door by door. We all know Warren Buffett as a multi-billionaire investor and guru, but he made baby steps in the business world as a chewing gum salesman and a newspaper boy.

He also moonlighted in his grandfather’s grocery store and detailed cars in his youth.

The first investment Buffett made involved a bicycle and watch he used to deliver papers more efficiently. Albeit this start was all but pretentious, it did prepare the ground well enough for what was to come.

This example demonstrates that getting by and witnessing the economic activity firsthand at a young age does wonders for later prospects.


2. Josh Altman – Mail Sorter

Surprising Past Jobs - Josh Altman

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Real estate business is one of the best investment opportunities there is, but it takes money and skills to start. The profitability of wholesaling houses depends on your approach and preparedness to commit full time.

Now, Josh Altman, investor, real estate agent and TV star, underlines that the technology has leveled the playing field, making it accessible to people without deep pockets.

His first job was sorting mail at a music agency, and his transportation means were roller-blades. He claims that it is a good idea to start part-time, and establish connections with some local buy-and-hold buyers or house flippers.

That was his top priority, and he used his heard-earned money to take real estate pros for lunches, soaking in their success stories. 


3. George Lucas – Race Car Driver

Surprising Past Jobs - George Lucas

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George Lucas is one of the most accomplished creative geniuses of our time, spellbinding millions of people with his incredible vision.

Still, the creator of the epic space saga and founder of the production company once dreamed of becoming a race-car driver. Before movie studios, he hung out in garages and even dared to enter dangerous underground races in high school.

Who knows whether we would ever see the Star Wars if it was not for the serious car accident that ended his aspirations. Some could say this was a divine intervention (or force?), but the moral is— take matters into your hands.

It is not too late to rethink your career and take some sharp turns. Getting stuck in a loop of tedious obligations and life you do not want is not a viable option.


4. Oprah Winfrey – Grocery Store Clerk

Surprising Past Jobs - Oprah Winfrey

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Before assuming the position of one of the most influential women in the country, Oprah Winfrey was a grocery store clerk.

Her mother was an unmarried teenager, and rural Mississippi was an environment plagued by poverty and abuse. She even had to cope with becoming pregnant at the age of 14 and her son dying in infancy.

At the age of 16, a store in Nashville was the best she could hope for, but fate had other intentions for her. Soon, she managed to become a presenter for the local news, and jump-start the career in broadcasting.

It does not matter where you are coming from, but how far you are prepared to travel in order to reach the destination.


Surprising Past Jobs - Jeff Bezos

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An idyllic ranch in Texas does not seem like a suitable platform for reaching the skies of the eCommerce industry.

But, Jeff Bezos, a founder and CEO of Amazon, proves that nothing is impossible. He helped his grandmother run the ranch in the childhood, and learned all the virtues and hardships of physical work.

Many summers rolled by as Jeff laid pipes, vaccinated the cattle and repaired windmills. It was only later that he developed an interest in computers and engineering, but his scientific talent and tech proficiency were evident.

The rest is history and another wake up call for ambitious people roaming the outer limits of our society.


6. Do Won Chang – Gas Station Clerk

Surprising Past Jobs - Do Won Chang

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When you are just an immigrant boy from Korea riding a bicycle in communist China, being an entrepreneur seems like a distant thought.

The first years of Do Won Chang in a new country were though: He worked in a coffee shop in the morning, gas station in the afternoon, and jail in the night. The list of odd jobs does not stop here, and includes dish-washing, delivery, etc.

Then, he noticed that the most people from the garment industry drive luxury cars. With his beloved wife, Chang opened the first store, called Fashion 21, in Los Angeles, and today he is a proud owner of 480 retails throughout the globe.

As Entrepreneurship Life points out, you must always strive to stay in tune with the signs prompting you to start your own business.


7. Peter Thiel – Chess Master

Surprising Past Jobs - Peter Thiel

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Peter Thiel, is a co-founder of PayPal, and businessman with an impeccable portfolio.

He was also promising chess master and one of the highest ranked players of his age in the United States. This may come as a surprise to many people, but if you think again, chess is an excellent way to gain a sense of competitiveness and intellectual mastery.

Apart from setting up a global payment service behemoth that PayPal is, and serving as a president of a global macro hedge fund, he also became the first outside investor of Facebook, and now sits on the company’s board of directors.

As a venture capitalist and a true visionary, he looks back at his early chess endeavors with joy.


Summing up

Renowned businessmen are not ashamed of their humble begins.

On the contrary, they treasure this experience as a reminder of the peculiar nature of success and all the hard work and commitment that was invested into the climb up the business ladder.

No one can deny that these moguls and A-listers started from the bottom and made their dreams a reality as eager beavers. Emulating their success is not the point, but when you recognize the right opportunity you must stop at nothing to snatch it.

Know any other surprising past jobs of successful entrepreneurs? Leave a comment below.

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