When I was a child my mother told me that it was very easy to look up and see all of the people who were doing better than us but that it was important to look down, so to speak, and to see the people who were worse off. When we make our way through this often harsh and does not let us settle for just trying our best we sometimes do well to find role models — people who have managed to accomplish what we hope to one day accomplish and emulate them or find hope for ourselves. If that person could make it, I can make it as well.

I found it quite surprising to find a list of people who are now quite wealthy and famous that used to be anything but.

Hilary Swank, the well known Academy Award winning actress who was paid only three thousand dollars for her work in Boys Don’t Cry had to once live in her car with her mother because she was struggling with financial issues.

When we look at large chain restaurants and coffee shops, we think of the multi-millionaires that are at their helm and created them. To me it was interesting to find out that one of the biggest specialty coffee chains in Canada, Second Cup, was founded by a man who was once so impoverished that he was panhandling and living on the street.

Then we turn to financial expert Suze Orman, a person to whom many people turn for financial advice and we wonder how it is possible that she ever was so poor that she was living out of a van. Quite impressive for someone who now is worth many millions of dollars.

What can we learn from the people who were so incredibly impoverished and managed to make their way up to be the incredibly successful people they are today? I would say that there are a number of lessons to be taken but chief among them is that it is indeed possible to pull yourself up and out from the most dire of dire straits. Moreover, I think that it bears looking more considerately at people whom we see that appear to be living in rather unfortunate circumstances, for they might just be the same people that are celebrated on television and in magazines in the future.


  1. Doing well is a great goal to have — and I’m sure those successful people you mention will be the first to warn us that money isn’t everything. It’s the purpose of the person that makes the success.

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