college is expensive. In 2016 the average new graduate from an American school left with some $30,000 in debt. The budding entrepreneurs who would eventually land on this year’s forbes 400 tackled that problem naturally enough: They went to work.
After immigrating to America from pakistan, Shahid Khan (u. of Illinois urbana-champaign, class of ’71) delivered pizza, supervised road construction and sold clothes at Sears. while holding down a dishwashing gig, he remembers thinking: “I’m breathing oxygen for the first time.
. . . If you put $1.20 per hour in terms of pakistan, you’re making more than 99% of the people over there.”
forget cushy country-club jobs; many future tycoons did hard, dirty work. Terrence Pegula (penn State, ’73) worked in a coal mine, while
George Soros (London School of Economics, ’51) worked part-time as a railway porter after fleeing hungary in 1947. Frank Vandersloot (Byu, ’72) was a cleaner in a laundromat (where he also lived, in a back room).
And what didn’t Ron baron (Bucknell, ’65) do? he was a lifeguard, cabana boy, emergency-room orderly, waterskiing instructor, ice cream truck driver, hotel waiter (he briefly lived in the basement), frat-house dishwasher, busboy, fuller Brush salesman and caddie ($4 to $5 for a single bag, $8 to $10 for a twofer).