What 11 Extremely Successful People were doing as Teenagers


Richard Branson started his first business when he was 17.

Abraham Caro Marin/AP Richard Branson.

In 1968 as a 17-year-old, Branson started a youth-culture magazine called “Student.” He sold $8,000 worth of advertising in the first issue.

Two years later, Branson began selling records by mail. This business grew into a brick-and-mortar store and eventually into a recording studio that became known as Virgin Records.

Carl Icahn used poker winnings to pay for college housing.

Reuters Carl Icahn.

As a teen, Icahn was admitted to Princeton University but was short on cash. His father was paying his tuition, but he didn’t have money for room and board. To solve his financial problems, Icahn got a job as a beach boy in the Rockaways.

The club owners played a regular poker game and invited Icahn to join. After quickly mastering the game, he won about $2,000 each summer, he told Tony Robbins for his book “Money: Master the Game.” Today Icahn has an estimated net worth of $24 billion.

Phil Knight was a student athlete.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images Phil Knight.

The Nike founder ran track as a student at Cleveland High School in his hometown of Portland, Oregon. A middle distance runner, he continued his track career at the University of Oregon, which is now known for its flashy and ever-changing Nike football uniforms.

While at Oregon in the late 1950s, Knight and track coach Bill Bowerman shared discontent with the quality of running shoes. In 1964, they founded Nike as Blue Ribbon Sports.

Janet Yellen was her high school’s valedictorian.

AP Images Janet Yellen.

Yellen, the chair of the US Federal Reserve, was a precocious teenager. During her senior year at Fort Hamilton High School in Brooklyn, New York, she studied math in an honors program at Columbia University.

Yellen graduated in 1963 as valedictorian and was named “class scholar.” She was also the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper and decided to interview herself for the story, her former classmate told the New York Times.


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