Everyone likes a good rags-to-riches story, often used as an inspirational tool to debunk the common misconception (or excuse) that one has to be born into money to succeed financially. Better still, when the story revolves around someone in their 40s, 50s or even 60s. J.K. Rowling penned Harry Porter on an old fashioned typewriter at 30. Colonel Sanders started the Kentucky Fried Chicken empire (first franchise) at 62.
Granted, having any form of financial backing (in the form of inheritance or otherwise) does increase one’s odds of success. That being said, it has been documented that large portions of the wealthy have actually made it to the top themselves.
Housing the highest population of millionaires in the world, Asia has its fair share of self-made high net worth individuals. Here are a few of them who have made it to the top of their game:
A true self-made billionaire if there ever was one, this mogul created an empire from the ground-up by himself. Li started working after dropping out of high school due to necessity, his family fleeing South China to Hong Kong with him becoming the sole breadwinner.
Business Insider shares that his hard work, perseverance and practice of sticking to his ethics (Li never goes back on any contract, spoken or otherwise) has propelled him to the highest echelons in both the property sector as well as maintaining control of 70% of port traffic and most electric utilities and telecommunications in Hong Kong.
Born the middle child to traditional musician-storyteller parents in Hangzhou, China, Jack Ma showed great tenacity from childhood, not one to step down from a challenge. Thefamouspeople.com speaks about his journey to riches being peppered with rejections and adversity. One of the most notable anecdotes on this was his failure to obtain a position with KFC, something that he recalls to this day (with some gratitude).
He also faced a considerable number of hurdles on his way to the top, failing his university entrance exam twice as well as constantly encountering funding issues. His determination and perseverance eventually paid off, culminating in Alibaba experiencing what was to be the highest IPO in history in 2014.
The richest man in China according to Alux.com, the Chairman of real estate and entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda came from humble beginnings, born into a military family in the Sichuan province. During his early years, Wang faced food shortage as well as other hardships as his family struggled to make ends meet. He followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the Chinese military for 16 years before his honourable discharge.
He then went on to become a real estate developer and rode on the economic boom in China to obtain success. Wang attributes his rise to the top partly due to spotting the need for differentiating his company from others as well as his constant focus on innovation. He also maintains to this day that companies going through the globalisation process still need to keep their core team intact throughout the process.
Do Won Chang
Moving from South Korea to Los Angeles in the early 80s to find a better life, the odds were stacked against Do Won Chang and his wife, both speaking little English and practically having no money at the time. Chang took up odd jobs for the first few years he was in the country to make ends meet, ranging from him serving coffee to being a janitor.
Businessinsider.sg tells us of how his epiphany came almost out of the blue, noticing how those with flashy cars all seemed to be in the garment business. The rest, as they say, is all history. Chang set up a clothing business that raked in sales of US$ 700, 000 in the first year, followed by several more of these outlets over the next few years. His business, Forever 21, has apparently brought the couple an astounding net worth of US$6.1 Billion.
The above stories serve as inspirations for anyone starting out in their field. From property and tech entrepreneurs to clothing and apparel tycoons, rags to riches stories tend to be non-industry specific. Two things that seem to be constant ingredients for all those who make it to the top are an unwavering tenacity as well as a considerable amount of good old-fashioned hard work.