Who Am I #1

The power of thinking like an underdog

This post begins a new series that we have been contemplating for some time.  One of our favorite hobbies is collecting stories about people who overcame enormous odds to find success in their lives.  While it is often part of the evidentiary pile, wealth or status are not the sole determinants of success.  This series is just as likely to include Gandhi as it is to include James Simons.  We will use a simple process (we know… shocker).  For each underdog we will first submit a post from the perspective of said underdog offering various details and soliciting guesses as to the underdog’s identity from readers.  We will then follow up with a post providing more details and announcing who the mystery underdog is.

The not so subtle point of the series is to provide a small source of inspiration to those feeling lost and perhaps like they cannot find a path to success.  More specifically, we want to suggest that if others “did it,” so too can you.

Without further adieu, we present Mystery Underdog #1:

  • I was born into a life of abject poverty and subsistence farming in an area not conducive to farming
  • I was also born at a time when education was considered a luxury and it was looked down upon by fathers and other men
  • I ran away from home at the age of 14 to avoid forced labor on the family farm
  • I began my professional career the equivalent of a waiter with no education, no contacts and no support in a sketchy part of the business to which he would ultimately devote my entire life
  • My life was threatened once by a by member of the criminal underworld for doing well in a business he owned and once by a lifelong criminal
  • At one point I was forced to travel and adopt disguises to continue business
  • I gained and lost several multi-million dollar fortunes ($3 million in 1907 and $100 million in 1929)
  • I endured bankruptcy more than once
  • I was used by a businessman to facilitate that businessman’s own ends unbeknownst to me… and thus I played something I had long resisted being… a pawn
  • I was married multiple times
  • I suffered with clinical depression for most of my life

Do you know who I am?  Submit your guesses in the comment section below.