Category Archives: Success Stories

Catherine Zeta-Jones, Actress

Catherine Zeta-Jones was born on 25 September 1969, in Swansea, West Glamorgan, Wales, UK, the daughter of Dai Jones, who formerly worked for a candy factory, and Pat Jones. Her brother David Jones is a development executive and brother Lyndon Jones  works at her production company. Catherine showed an interest early on in entertainment.

Got Her Break as an Understudy

She starred on stage in “Annie”, “Bugsy Malone” and “The Pajama Game”. At 15 she had the lead in the British revival of “42nd Street”. She was originally cast as the second understudy for the lead role in the musical but when the star and first understudy became sick the night the play’s producer was in the audience, she was given the lead for the rest of the musical’s production and dropped out of school to join the tour.

Fame came from “The Mask of Zorro”

She first made a name for herself in the early 1990s when she starred in the Yorkshire Television comedy/drama series. The show was a smash hit and made her one of the United Kingdom’s most popular television actresses. She subsequently played supporting roles in several films before landing her breakthrough role playing the fiery Elena opposite Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas in The Mask of Zorro (1998). She starred in many big-budget blockbusters like Entrapment (1999), The Haunting (1999) and Traffic (2000), for which many believed she was robbed of an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress. In November 2000 she married actor Michael Douglas. She and Michael has a son Dylan, eleven  and a  daughter Carys, eight.


- Do what you love to do – you never know where your break will come from

- Have faith in yourself


Steve Jobs, “Apple” Entrepreneur

Steve Jobs, the visionary who co-founded Apple in a Silicon Valley garage, built it into the world’s leading tech company and led a mobile-computing revolution with wildly popular devices such as the iPhone, died at age 56.

The hard-driving executive pioneered the concept of the personal computer and of navigating them by clicking onscreen images with a mouse. In more recent years, he introduced the iPod portable music player, the iPhone and the iPad tablet — all of which changed how we consume content in the digital age.

After high school, Jobs enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Lacking direction, he dropped out of college after six months and spent the next 18 months dropping in on creative classes. Jobs later recounted how one course in calligraphy developed his love of typography.

In 1974, Jobs took a position as a video game designer with Atari. Several months later he left Atari to find spiritual enlightenment in India, traveling the continent and experimenting with psychedelic drugs. In 1976, when Jobs was just 21, he and Wozniak started Apple Computers. The duo started in the Jobs family garage, and funded their entrepreneurial venture after Jobs sold his Volkswagen bus and Wozniak sold his beloved scientific calculator.

Jobs and Wozniak are credited with revolutionizing the computer industry by democratizing the technology and making the machines smaller, cheaper, intuitive, and accessible to everyday consumers. The two conceived a series of user-friendly personal computers that they initially marketed for $666.66 each. Their first model, the Apple I, earned them $774,000. Three years after the release of their second model, the Apple II, sales increased 700 percent to $139 million dollars. In 1980, Apple Computer became a publically traded company with a market value of $1.2 billion on the very first day of trading. Jobs looked to marketing expert John Scully of Pepsi-Cola to help fill the role of Apple’s President.


- Live life to the fullest while you are here

- Make a difference while you alive


Robert DeNiro, Actor/Entrepreneur

Robert De Niro Fans of Vito Corleone and Jake LaMotta can thank one of the world’s most popular actors for leaving high school before his 17th birthday. The two-time Oscar winner studied his craft at Lee Strasberg’s Actor’s Studio and the Stella Adler Conservatory. De Niro learned a thing or two about business along the way, too: His financial portfolio includes film studio TriBeCa Productions and a handful of posh New York eateries.


-Follow your dream

-Don’t let education stop you


David Green, Billionaire Founder of Hobby Lobby – Entrepreneur

David Green, billionaire founder of Hobby Lobby started the Hobby Lobby chain with only $600. and a high school degree.

In a business culture where the bottom line makes the difference and success is spelled m-o-n-e-y, David Green, founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby craft stores is definitely swimming upstream with company wide ethics expectations and upfront faith values. Hobby Lobby Creative Centers, as it is now known, is a corporate retail giant that hosts 335 retail stores across the country and employs around 16,000 people. From modest beginnings to enormous success, Green attributes it all to one thing only, total dependency upon God.

Hobby Lobby’s beginnings date back to 1972 when Green founded a small store that retailed his own manufactured picture frames. Green brought years of retail experience to his company, and the company expanded and grew within just three years of conception. Over the years there have been ups and downs, but through prayer and faith Green has managed to build a model corporation, with now over 1 Billion in sales annually, that stands on integrity and gives God all the glory.


-A strong belief in God or a higher power can take you to success

-If you don’t believe in God, you can live by “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.”


Frederick “Freddy” Laker, Billionaire Airline Entrepreneur. High school dropout.

Frederick Alfred Laker British entrepreneur from Kent, Eng., is the brash, ebullient founder and chairman of Laker Airways Ltd. From 1966–82, rhe evolutionized the airline industry by offering the first low-cost commercial transatlantic flights. After an 11-year legal battle, Laker Airways introduced Skytrain international flights in 1977, at a time when major carriers controlled air travel and fares between the U.S. and the U.K. Laker cut costs by introducing a no-frills service that eliminated reservations, meals, and other extras. Other carriers lowered their fares, however, and Laker Airways went bankrupt in 1982. Laker sued, and British courts eventually ruled that the major airlines had engaged in predatory pricing; Laker’s legal efforts thus paved the way for future low-fare carriers. From 1992 he operated small regional airlines servicing Florida and The Bahamas. Laker was knighted in 1978.


-Although education is important, drive and ambition can carry you a long way.

-Always stand up for yourself

-Remember if others can do it, so can you




Hamdi Ulukaya $700 Million Business – Entrepreneur

The $700 Million Yogurt Startup

In a scant four years, Hamdi Ulukaya has built something even Silicon Valley types should covet: a $700 million business that’s profitable, dominant and growing at a furious clip. Even more incredible: Ulukaya makes yogurt.

Hamdi Ulukaya came to the United States from Turkey in 1997 to learn English and continue his education at the University at Albany. A visit from his father changed the direction of his life.

“When father realized that there were few quality dairy products, more specifically cheese, available to the U.S. market, it became apparent that I was destined to pursue a career in the dairy industry,” says Ulukaya.  Benefiting from his father’s prompting and encouragement, and his own hard work, Ulukaya now runs two companies, Euphrates Inc. in Johnstown, which makes feta cheese, and Agro-Farma Inc. based in South Edmeston in Otsego County, a producer of Greek yogurt.

“Both companies are challenging and rewarding, both personally and professionally,” says Ulukaya. “I love working with people and I have a great team. Competition is great as well. I love the challenge.”


-Adversity builds strength

-Overcome obstacles that get in your way



Hyman Golden, Founder of “Snapple” – Businessman and Entrepreneur

Hyman Golden, a businessman was a co-founder of the Snapple Beverage Corporation and served as its chairman as Snapple’s flavored teas and juices and became a national phenomenon.

Started Business with Two Partners

With a small investment in 1972, Mr. Golden and two partners started a business that would eventually produce one of the nation’s leading flavored beverages.  By the time the company was purchased by Quaker Oats Company for about $1.7 billion in 1994, it had annual sales of $700 million, and its bottles of juices with their familiar blue-and-white logos could be found in delis, supermarkets, vending machines and homes across the country.

Little Formal Education

Mr. Golden, who had little formal education, had a humble upbringing in Queens, working first as a window washer for his father, a Romanian immigrant. Along the way he also worked as a business broker and founded a maintenance company with his brother-in-law, Leonard Marsh.

Joining Forces

Then, in 1972, Mr. Marsh introduced Mr. Golden to Arnold Greenberg, a childhood friend who ran a health food store in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan. The three decided to join forces and founded a company — called Unadulterated Food Products — selling juices to health-food stores.  In 1980, the company introduced a line of all-natural juices with the Snapple name, which came from one of its first products, a carbonated apple juice that had a “snappy apple taste.”


-You can educate yourself along the way to success

-Formal educations area not required to be successful


Tom Hanks, Movie Star – Entrepreneur

Born in California, Tom Hanks grew up in what he calls a “fractured” family. His parents were pioneers in the development of marriage dissolution law in that state, and Tom moved around a lot, living with a succession of step-families. No problems, no abuse, no alcoholism – just a confused childhood. He had no acting experience in college and, in fact, credits the fact that he couldn’t get cast in a college play with actually starting his career. He went downtown, auditioned for a community theater play, was invited by the director of that play to go to Cleveland, and there his acting career started. He met his second wife, actress Rita Wilson on the set of his television show “Boston Buddies” (1980) – she appeared in one episode in the second season (1981). They have two children, and Tom has another son and daughter by his first wife. In 1996, he made his first step behind the camera, directing and writing as well as starring in the film “That Thing You Do.”


-No matter what your background is, you can make it

-Sometimes what seems to be the worst situation, moves you into the best situation

-Success is in your attitude



Isaac Merrit Singer, Sewing Machine Inventor, Founder of Singer – Entrepreneur

Isaac Merritt Singer was born in Pittstown, New York, on October 27, 1811. He was the youngest child of Adam Singer  and his first wife, Ruth Benson. Adam, a millwright, and his wife emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1803. They had eight children, three sons and five daughters. When Isaac Singer was 10 years old, his parents divorced. After Adam Singer remarried, Isaac Singer did not get on well with his stepmother.  When he was 12, he ran away. He later went to live with his elder brother in Rochester.

Started with Machines

Singer’s elder brother had a machine shop, and Isaac went to work there. It was there that Isaac grew to his full height of 6 feet 4 inches  and where he first learned the machinist trade that would become the basis of his fame and fortune.

First inventions Led to Singer Sewing Machine

After a series of inventions in the machine trade, Singer went to work in Boston for a man named Phelps.  Lerow & Blodgett sewing machines were being constructed and repaired in Phelps’ shop, where Singer went to work.  Phelps asked Singer to look at the sewing machines, which were difficult to use and produce. Singer concluded that the sewing machine would be more reliable if the shuttle moved in a straight line rather than a circle, with a straight rather than a curved needle. Singer was able to obtain a US Patent for his improvements on August 12, 1851.

Singer’s Prototype

Singer’s prototype sewing machine became the first to work in a practical way. It could sew 900 stitches per minute, far better than the 40 of an accomplished seamstress on simple work.

I. M. Singer & Co

In 1856, manufacturers Grover & Baker, Singer, Wheeler & Wilson, all accusing each other of patent infringement, met in Albany, New York to pursue their suits. Orlando B. Potter, a lawyer and president of the Grover and Baker Company, proposed that, rather than squander their profits on litigation, they pool their patents. This was the first patent pool process which enables the production of complicated machines without legal battles over patent rights.

Mass Produced Sewing Machines

Sewing machines began to be mass produced. I. M. Singer & Co manufactured 2,564 machines in 1856, and 13,000 in 1860 at a new plant on Mott Street in New York. Later, a massive plant was built near Elizabeth, New Jersey.  By investing in mass production utilizing the concept of interchangeable parts he was able to cut the price in half, while at the same time increasing his profit margin 530%.  Singer was the first who put a family machine, “the turtle back”, on the market. Eventually, the price came down to $10. According to PBS, “His partner, Edward Clark, pioneered installment purchasing plans and accepted trade-ins, causing sales to soar.” I. M. Singer expanded into the European market, establishing a factory in Clydebank, near Glaasgow, controlled by the parent company, becoming one of the first American-based multinational corporations, with agencies in Paris and Rio de Janeiro.


-If you are an inventor, risk and create something

-Make sure to get a patent for your invention

-Inventions can lead to other ideas or inventions


Liz Claiborne, Fashion Designer, Entreprenuer

Liz Claiborne spent her childhood in New Orleans until she dropped out of high school to travel to Europe to study art.  Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s, she worked for several male designers in New York City, before starting her own company.  As a pioneer fashion designer, Liz Claiborne’s, stylish work clothes have helped women break through the glass ceiling for 30 years revolutionized women’s apparel.  In 1976, she defied the male-dominated industry and broke out on her own, creating Liz Claiborne, Inc., a label that became synonymous with women’s rise in the workforce.

Department Stores Began to Stock Pants for Women

The label turned fashion convention on its head by forcing department stores to stock both skirts and pants in the same section for the first time.   Claiborne shunned feminine frills and catwalk couture for tailored pieces that could be mixed and matched to serve the working woman’s wardrobe.

Husband Became the Secretary Reversing the Traditional Roles

Claiborne also reversed traditions by appoint her husband, Art Ortenberg, as secretary of the company, while she continued to hold the rank of executive until her retirement in 1989.  Her commitment to style and design is ever present in current thinking and the way women work.  She will be remembered for her vision, her entrepreneurial spirit and her enduring compassion and generosity.  Claiborne was also a dedicated philanthropist, who funded millions of dollars of programs to help women, including domestic violence services and business training for budding entrepreneurs.


-You can create your own trends

-Move outside the traditional box