When we look on with admiration and perhaps a tinge of envoy at the jet-setting lifestyles of the rich and famous, we sometimes don’t realize that they’ve climbed the ladder of success the hard way, not really being born in a lap of luxury but rather working their way up, with many setbacks along the way.

Here’s some examples:

  1. Richard Branson struggled with studies in school, being dyslexic. He dropped out of college and after trying his hand at a few odd jobs, began selling records through mail-order. He’s now the owner of the Virgin Group which runs over 400 companies.

2. J.K Rowling, after a failed marriage, was at one time a single mother living off welfare, struggling to make ends meet. After countless rejections, Harry Potter was accepted by one publisher. The rest as they say, is history.

3. Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, had very humble beginnings, being the son of a truck driver in New York. By chance, Schultz came across the coffee chain when it was still relatively unknown. Schultz can take the credit for taking Starbucks from 60 to over 16,000 outlets worldwide.

4. Oprah Winfrey often publicly recalls how she used to wear clothes made out of potato sacks. Participation in a beauty pageant opened a window of opportunity for her, leading to a broadcasting job. Today, she is America’s best known broadcaster and probably the wealthiest.

5. Sam Walton, the founder of WalMart, started work as a helper on his family farm, supplementing income by delivering newspapers and milk. At age 26, he secured loans to invest in a store in Arkansas, and went on to set up the biggest retail store chain in the entire United States.