Top-10 Rags-To-Riches Stories Of All Time

There are times when rags-to-riches stories are considered to be sympathy stories of failure and struggle. Most often, these are the same stories that connect with those grappling with similar circumstances. These very stories have the power to inspire, encourage and lead by example. Amidst all the dare-to-dream stories we come across every day, here are our top ten picks.





Larry Ellison


Born in 1944 to a single teenage mother, Larry Ellison was given up for adoption at just nine months. Not following traditional education, he dropped out of college not once but twice. Larry self-studied programming books extensively and after multiple jobs, founded Oracle in 1977 with a $2000 capital. Today, the company is worth $62.4 billion company with Larry being the eighth-wealthiest man in the world!




Do Won Chang


Fleeing North Korea amidst political instability and chaos, Do Won Chang and his wife, moved to L.A. in 1981 to live their Big American Dream, which many just simply dream of. With no college degree and little to suffice, Do Wan juggled three odd jobs to make a decent living. In 1984 the couple set-up a 900 square feet clothing store which grew to a chain of 790 stores in 48 countries and is none other than the fashion phenomenon, FOREVER 21!




Nawazuddin Siddiqui


One of the most versatile Bollywood actors, Nawazuddin didn’t have it easy. Born in the small village of Budhana, UP, his dreams were bigger than his family could fulfill. After working as a chemist in Baroda, Nawazuddin moved to Delhi and persevered to join the National School of Drama, while also working as a watchman to make ends meet. It was only in 1999 that he tasted success with his debut movie ‘Sarfarosh’ and paved his own path to success.




Roman Abramovich


Impoverished and orphaned at the age of two, Abramovich didn’t let destitution dampen his spirit. After a short stint in the Soviet Army, he began selling imported rubber ducks from his apartment. His experience at the Moscow Auto Transport Institute led him to build the world’s fourth largest oil company. In 2003, Abramovich acquired the Chelsea Football Club worth $188 million and now owns the world’s largest yacht which cost him $400 million!




Leonardo Del Vicchio


Born to a poor Milanese family in 1935, Leonardo was given away to an orphanage at seven years when his mother could no longer afford to sustain a family. At fourteen, he was forced to work while educating himself in industrial design. His dream to revolutionize fashion eyewear came true in 1961when he founded Luxottica. Taking over popular Italian brands including Vogue, Sunglass Hut, and Ray-Ban, Luxottica, today, owns more than 6,000 retail stores across the globe.




J.K. Rowling


Death, depression, loss, separation, J.K. Rowling had seen it all. Living in a cramped apartment with her daughter, jobless and penniless, while managing it all as a single parent, Rowling’s works saw the light of day in 1997 after facing innumerable rejections. Needless to say, the Harry Potter series has sold more than 450 million copies, been made into movies, won innumerable awards, and transformed Rowling’s life beyond imagination.




Peter Dinklage


The much-loved, uncanny, Tyrion Lannister was mocked all through adolescence for achondroplasia, making him bitter and angry. He faced hardships living in a friend’s rat-infested apartment, but that didn’t stop him from pursuing his acting dream. What many considered his shortcomings is what Peter built his strengths on! Doing an ironic play based on a frustrated actor being typecast as a dwarf won him accolades and landed him his debut in the epic series, Game of Thrones.




Indra Nooyi


Indra Nooyi’s success story isn’t the typical rags-to-riches tale, but one of pure passion and dedication. Following an IIM degree, she set sail to the US with little money, to study at the esteemed Yale School of Management. While there, she worked a night shift as a receptionist to earn a buck or two and built her way up, seeing rejection as a stepping stone to success. Today, the CEO of Pepsico holds the 15th position in the list of ‘World’s 100 Most Powerful Women’ by Forbes.



Manjula Waghela


Up until 1981, a commoner, Manjula Waghela earned a mere Rs. 150 per month, working as a rag-picker. Today, she has come a long way, being the proud leader of Shri Saundarya Safai Utkarsh Mahila Sewa Sahkari Mandali Ltd ‐ a cleaners’ cooperative with an annual turnover of Rs. 1 crore.

All these stories bear testimony to the fact that no matter where you hail from, no matter how big or small, anybody and everybody can bring about a radical change, climb the ladder to success and scale great heights. All you need is hope, conviction and the power to believe that ‘It starts with YOU!’



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