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The Right Attitude

The right attitude will set you up for life. The attitude of a winner will make you realize everything is possible. Although there are no guarantees of reaching your goals, by following principles you win either way!

Many of today’s wealthiest and most powerful chief executives are entirely self-made. They were born into modest circumstances and worked hard for everything they have. Others have come from much more desperate backgrounds, which, thankfully, many of us will never have to know.

Many were born into poverty and raised in violent neighborhoods with rampant crime. But thanks to a combination of resourcefulness, ingenuity and a strong work ethic, they managed to transcend their circumstances. Today, they thrive in business and head some of the most profitable companies in the world.

In most cases, these future CEOs started working early in life and took menial childhood jobs to help their families get by. However, many of their struggles provided them with a survival instinct and it fostered an eye for opportunities that less-desperate people might overlook. It also produced the ability to stretch a dollar past its breaking point, a handy skill for anyone trying to cobble together start-up costs. Poverty can often help cultivate qualities that are strong business assets.

John Paul Dejoria is the co-founder and CEO of John Paul Mitchell Systems, a hair-care product manufacturer. His parents divorced when he was two years old, and he went to work at age nine to help support his family. He ended up in foster care nonetheless, and after graduating high school he served in the U.S. Navy and worked as a janitor.

Dejoria reached his lowest point when he joined the ranks of the homeless. Amazingly, he overcame these odds and co-founded John Paul Mitchell Systems with hairdresser Paul Mitchell in 1980. According to Forbes magazine, his net worth in 2009 stood at $4 billion, a remarkable achievement by almost any standard. However, in Dejoria’s case, it represents a triumph over almost unimaginable adversity.

Every morning, millions of Americans get caffeinated on Starbucks coffee, and they have its chairman and CEO Howard Schultz to thank for it.

He grew up in a housing project in Canarsie, Brooklyn, a neighborhood so poor that today it doesn’t even have a Starbucks. He was the first person in his family to attend college, and after graduating he took a job with Hammerpalast, a company that manufactured coffee makers. While on the job he met a representative from Starbucks, then a mere start-up.

Schultz was so taken with the product that he became their director of marketing, and from there he scaled the corporate ladder to its highest rung. This success allowed him to establish the Maveron venture capital firm and purchase the Seattle SuperSonics basketball team. However, he’s still best known for the coffee, which gave him his $29.7 million compensation package in 2011.

Sean Combs is a rapper, known diversely as Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, Diddy, Puff and Puffy. He was born in Harlem and raised by his mother, a schoolteacher living in public housing. His father was murdered when Combs was three years old, and the family relocated to Mount Vernon, just outside of the Bronx.

Combs attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., while simultaneously interning at Uptown Records in New York City. The internship won out, and he dropped out of college to focus on Uptown, where he was instrumental in developing such R&B artists as Mary J. Blige and Jodeci early in their careers. Aside from his own considerable success as a musician, he’s thrived in clothing design since starting his own apparel label, Sean John, in 1998. He serves as its CEO to this day.

Everything is possible with the right attitude to be a winner. Keep working and develop yourself to that of a winner.

Take care!

Prof. Carl Boniface

Vocabulary builder:

Ingenuity (n) = inventiveness, cleverness, resourcefulness, imagination, originality, creativity, skill, cunning, initiative, (ant) unimaginativeness

Fostered (v) = nurtured, raised, adopted, look after, care for, bring up, take in

Cobble (v) = to cobble is to mend, repair, stitch, patch up, put back together

Rung (n) = step, stair, tread, stage. As a verb pp of ring (syn) resonated, resounded, echoed, ring out

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