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If you were to run into Elon Musk today, you’d probably be in the habitat of the ultra-elite, or perhaps taking a tour of the SpaceX facility in Hawthorne, California. But if you could take a hyperloop back in time, to 1988, you’d find a 17-year-old Musk working in the hellish conditions of a Canadian lumber mill; crawling through molten-hot tunnels to shovel sand and “goop” into a wheelbarrow.
Some of the world’s most successful people once worked extremely unglamorous jobs, before they were famous, to help them achieve their dreams. While being born into inherited wealth can help young entrepreneurs kickstart their careers, the value of a rock-solid work ethic is hard to beat.
There’s something uniquely inspiring about a rag to riches tale, and it’s also embedded in the fabric of our nation. After all, isn’t the premise of the American dream a parable of the power of hard work?
If you’re looking for a little inspiration while you continue to iron out your business plan and juggle your day job, the following infographic illustrates the unglamorous origin stories of some of the world’s most successful people.
Thrillist | Fortune | Esquire | Bloomberg | Aaron Wallis | Business Insider 1 & 2| CNN | Patriot’s Wire | Shape |