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Even famous business leaders have cruddy first jobs, what was yours?

Even famous business leaders are not immune to the cruddy first job. Don’t believe us? Take a look at these leaders’ stories and see what you think.



mark cuban first job

We all have a first job story

Most of us have stories about our first low-level jobs–the places where we spent our summers flipping burgers, babysitting kids, washing dishes, selling coffee. It’s difficult to imagine that successful CEOs and influencers could relate to these stories; when you look at their polished and well-off images, it seems as if they began their careers with a nameplate, a desk, and a microphone. (Can you imagine Oprah being anything but…Oprah?!)

Of course this isn’t the case, many of these powerhouses have humble beginnings. The queen of media herself, Ms. Winfrey, once worked at a corner grocery store. (Side note: I bet that she had so many customers spilling their life secrets to her while she bagged their goods.)

Oprah wasn’t the only one who started out small. The following successful people, worth a collective gazillion dollars, once had to sweat to earn their pennies, too.

Marissa Ann Meyer

Like Oprah, Marissa Ann Mayer took a summer job as a grocery store clerk. The current president and CEO of Yahoo said that it was there that she saw the first-hand value of work ethic. She told Fortune, “I also learned a lot about family economics, how people make trade-offs, and how people make decisions on something fundamental, like how to eat.”

Mark Cuban

The entrepreneur, Shark Tank star, and Dallas Mavericks owner was selling garbage bags door-to-door at age 12. In order to make his first big purchase, a pair of new tennis shoes, Cuban marked up the bags and sold them for three dollars more than he paid for them. Did I mention that he is an entrepreneur?

Kat Cole

Kat Cole knows how to hustle. At age 17 she began at Hooters as a hostess, and worked there for 15 years; she was promoted to vice president by the time she was 26. She’s now the president of Cinnabon.

Michael Dell

As founder and CEO of Dell Inc., Dell is worth an estimated $18.7 billion. But before he helped make PCs mainstream, he was washing dishes at a Chinese restaurant–his first job at age 12.

Madeline Albright

Known for her badassedness, power suits, and brooches, the former Secretary of State started out selling a different kind of women’s wear: bras. After arriving in the US as a political refugee from Czechoslovakia, she got her first job at a department store in Denver.

Donald Trump

Trump, the real estate mogul and media personality/presidential candidate grew up wealthy. That said, his dad wanted him to learn the value of money, so he took him to construction sites to pick up empty soda bottles to redeem for cash. Trump told Forbes that he didn’t make much (perhaps compared to selling condos and highrises) but it taught him to work for his money, and he’s done the same with his own children.

Warren Buffett

Buffet, one of the world’s wealthiest people, is famous for making and saving money. The chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway has been that way since he was a kid. At age 13, Buffet was a paperboy, spending his mornings delivering The Washington Post.

Apparently, that same year, he invested $1,200 of his earnings into 40 acres of farmland. Which might distinguish Buffett from the rest of us. He started out meager like regular people, yes, but I don’t think that most of us regulars were investing as teenagers. Unless you count time and money spent at the local mall, then yes, we invested from our grubby jobs, often and early.

What about you?

Tell us in the comments or on your favorite social network – what was your first job?


Amy Orazio received her MFA in Creative Writing at Otis College of Art and Design, in Los Angeles. She lives in Portland now, where she is enjoying the cross section of finishing her poetry manuscript and writing for The American Genius.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mike McCann

    October 18, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Currently I am owner of my own appraisal company. First jobs were also essentially self-employed, starting about age 8 selling garden seeds and Christmas cards door to door, then on to newspaper delivery routes and mowing lawns and shoveling snow (adapting to the seasonal work), then on to working at a dry cleaner, dish-washing and selling shoes.
    Then I took harder jobs; labor on construction sites, etc….all before graduating high school.

    Granted those jobs did not pay $15/hr. or otherwise have “equality” with positions that required more education, training or years of experience, but they formed a solid foundation for adult endeavors, and proved to me that if I was willing to work I could make money. How much was related to the value of my work in the “market”.

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Business News

How remote work has changed over the last decade

(BUSINESS NEWS) let’s reflect on how remote working and telecommuting has changed in recent years and look to how it will continue to change in the 2020s.



remote at home

As someone who often works remote, it’s interesting to see how much that means for work has evolved. The increase in commonality has been steady, and shows no signs of slowing down. Go Remotely has developed an insightful graphic showing the changes in trends regarding remote work over the years.

“For decades, the established economy dictated that you should pick one job, visit the same office for the next 40 years, and then retire,” reads the graphic’s intro. “However, recent remote working stats suggest the working world might be in for some revolutionary changes.”

From there, the graphic is broken down into five facets: Flexible Workspace Policy, Entrepreneurial Minds, Telecommuting is a Growing Trend, The Role of Companies in the Remote Working World, and The Future of Telecommuting.

With Flexible Workspace Policy, its suggested that telecommuting could be a solution for costly issues including lack of productivity caused by employee distractions, health problems, etc. It is said that employers lose $1.8 trillion annually due to these issues.

The end of 2018 found 35 percent of the US workforce working remotely. This is only expected to climb. Ten percent of employees don’t know if their company offers flexible work policies (this is something to check into!)

Bills and laws for virtual jobs passed by governments reflect the need for accessibility, economic stability, and emigration concerns. Companies with flexible work policies have reported seeing increases in productivity and profits. (Funny those both start with pro, no?)

With Entrepreneurial Minds, a few interesting things found include: remote workers are less likely to take off if they are sick, the majority reports better productivity when working alone, the majority reported lower stress levels. However, there is a problem with not being able to unplug after work which is an issue for some.

Telecommuting is a Growing Trend finds that there has been a seven percent increase between 2012 and 2016, with the majority (80-100 percent) reporting they work remotely. Industries seen embracing remote work include: transportation, computer/information systems/mathematical, arts/design/entertainment/sports/media, finance/insurance/real estate, law or public policy, community/social services, science/engineering/architecture, manufacturing or construction, healthcare, education/training/library, and retail.

The Role of Companies in the Remote Working World finds that the pros to hiring remote workers includes: finding talent outside of your geographic area, improves retention on work/life balance, increases productivity by decreasing commute time, and saves money by requiring less office space. The cons include lack of timeliness when it comes to receiving information from employers.

Finally, the Future of Telecommuting suggests that in 2020 the US mobile worker population will surpass 105 million (and will account for 72 percent of the US workforce). Hiring managers predict that telecommuting will increase tremendously, most skills will become even more niche over the next decade, and many think that 38 percent of their full-time workers will be working remotely in the next decade.

How do you feel about the increase in remote working and telecommuting?

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Business News

ClickUp team productivity app is gorgeous and wildly efficient

(BUSINESS NEWS) Seeking to improve your productivity and speed up your team, ClickUp is an inexpensive option for those obsessed with efficiency.




Back again to obsess over productivity apps – ClickUp, is a project management tool seeking to knock the frustration out of PM. It’s getting some good reviews, so I gave it a try for a week by setting up my current job search as a project and getting a feel for the app. And as you’ve read in my other reviews, we will address features and design.

On the feature front, ClickUp offers a pretty standard set up of tools for a productivity app. What stands out first and foremost are the status options. In general, most productivity statuses are simple: not started, started, in progress, done, etc.

But ClickUp lets you set up custom statuses that match your workflow.

For example, if you’re doing instructional design projects, you may assign projects based on where they are flowing in an ADDIE model, or if you are a Realtor, you may have things cataloged by sold, in negotiation, etc.

Customization is king and custom status is the closest you get to building your own app. And if you like it simple, you don’t have to customize it. The assigned comments feature lets you follow up on specific comments that originate action items – which is useful in team collaborations.

You can also assign changes to multiple tasks at once, including changing statuses (I would bulk assign completion tasks when I finished applications that I did in batches). There a lot of features here, but the best feature is how the app allows you to toggle on and off features that you will or won’t use – once again, customization is front and center for this platform.

In terms of design and intuive use, ClickUp nailed it.

It’s super easy to use, and the concept of space is pretty standard in design thinking. If your organization uses Agile methodology, this app is ready for you.

In terms of view, you can declutter the features, but the three viewing modes (list, box, and board) can help you filter the information and make decisions quickly depending on what role you have on a board or project. There is also a “Me” board that removes all the clutter and focuses on your tasks – a great way to do focused productivity bursts. ClickUp describes itself as beautifully intuitive, and I can’t disagree – both the web app and mobile app are insanely easy to use.

No complaints here.

And the horizon looks good for ClickUp – with new features like image markup, Gannt charts (!!!!!! #nerdalert), and threaded comments for starts.

This application is great, and it’s got a lot of growth coming up to an already rich feature base. It’s free with 100MB of storage, but the $5 fee for team member per month that includes team onboarding and set up (say you’re switching from another platform) and Dropbox/Google Docs integration? That’s a bargain, Charlie.

ClickUp is on the way up and it’s got it all – features, a beautifully accessible UI, relentless customization, and lot of new and upcoming features. If you’re into the productivity platform and you’re looking for a new solution for your team, go check it out.

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Business News

Should you alter your business travel due to the Coronavirus?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Got a business trip coming up? Worried about the coronavirus spoiling those plans? Stay up to date and safe with this cool site!



travel coronavirus

The Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at John Hopkins University has created a website that tracks one of the biggest trends of 2020: the coronavirus. Also known as 2019-nCoV, this disease has already spread to over 40,000 confirmed cases worldwide, with over 900 deaths (as of when this article was published, anyway.)

Not to mention, the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that we still don’t know exactly how the virus spreads from person-to-person. In fact, there’s quite a bit we don’t know about this disease and although some people are reported as recovered, it’s only a small fraction compared to how many are sick.

So, what’s so great about this tracker? Well, first of all, it updates in real time, making it easy to keep track of everything we know about confirmed cases of the coronavirus. It’s chock full of statistics and visuals, making the information easy to digest. Plus, with a map front and center, it lets you know exactly where there have been reported outbreaks – and how many people have been diagnosed.

Because the site sticks to cold hard facts like statistics and maps, it also means you can avoid the racism and general panic that’s accompanied news of this outbreak.

This is a great tool for staying informed, but it’s also extremely helpful if you’re going to be traveling for work. As the virus continues to progress, you’ll be able to see just how many cases of coronavirus there are in the areas you’re planning to visit, which will allow you to plan accordingly. Even if you don’t feel the effects, you can still risk passing it to other people.

(In fact, the CDC recommends those traveling from certain areas in China practice “social distancing” when they return to the US, avoiding public spaces like grocery stores, malls and movie theaters.)

Of course, if you have something planned several months from now, don’t cancel your conference plans just yet. A lot can happen in that amount of time, so avoid the urge to check the website every couple hours. It’s supposed to be a tool for staying informed, not staying stressed out.

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