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What 10 extremely successful people were doing at age 25

A bit of inspiration.
May 31st 2015, 4:30 PM 45,979 61

SOME PEOPLE KNOW what they want to do from an early age and focus on it relentlessly.

Others are driven enough to reinvent themselves, changing careers and industries, and continuously push until they find the thing that works.

As a reminder that the path to success is not always linear, we’ve highlighted what Richard BransonArianna Huffington, and EIGHT other fascinating and successful people were doing at age 25.

Martha Stewart

martha-stewart-was-a-stockbroker-for-the-firm-of-monness-williams-and-sidel-the-original-oppenheimer-and-co Source: Courtesy Martha Stewart via Business Insider

Before her name was known in every American household, Martha Stewart worked on Wall Street for five years as a stockbroker. Before that, she was a model, booking clients from Unilever to Chanel.

“There were very few women at the time on Wall Street … and people talked about this glass ceiling, which I never even thought about,” Stewart said in an interview for PBS’s MAKERS series. ”I never considered myself unequal, and I think I got a very good education being a stockbroker.”

In 1972, Stewart left Wall Street to be a stay-at-home mom. A year later, she started a catering business.

Arianna Huffington

arianna-huffington-was-traveling-to-music-festivals-around-the-world-for-the-bbc-with-her-boyfriend-at-the-time Source: Tiny banquet committee via Flickr

Before she was Arianna Huffington, she was Arianna Stassinopolous and at the age of 21, she met the famed British journalist Henry Bernard Levin while on a panel for a quiz show.

They began a relationship and he became her mentor while she wrote the book The Female Woman attacking the women’s liberation movement. The book was published when she was 23.

For the next few years, Huffington traveled to music festivals around the world with Levin as he wrote for the BBC. Her relationship with Levin eventually ended because he did not want to marry or have children. Huffington moved to New York City at the age of 30. That year, her biography of Maria Callas was published, which she dedicated to Levin.

Ralph Lauren 

ralph-lauren-was-a-sales-assistant-at-brooks-brothers Source: Wikimedia Commons

He was born Ralph Lifshitz in the Bronx, New York, but changed his name at the age of 15.

He went on to study business at Baruch College and served in the Army until the age of 24 when he left to work for Brooks Brothers.

At 26, Lauren decided to design a wide European-styled tie, which eventually led to an opportunity with Neiman Marcus. The next year, he launched the label Polo.

JK Rowling

Rowling crime novels on BBC Source: Ian West

Rowling was 25 years old when she came up with the idea for Harry Potter during a delayed four-hour train ride in 1990.

She started writing the first book that evening, but it took her years to actually finish it. While working as a secretary for the London office of Amnesty International, Rowling was fired for daydreaming too much about Harry Potter, and her severance check would help her focus on writing for the next few years.

During these years, she got married, had a daughter, got divorced, and was diagnosed with clinical depression before finally finishing the book in 1995. It was published in 1997.

Jay Z

jay-z-was-already-in-the-rap-scene-but-was-relatively-anonymous Source: Wikimedia Commons

Born Shawn Carter, Jay Z grew up in a housing project in Brooklyn, New York and became known as Jay Z at the age of 20.

For the next few years he appeared alongside various other rappers, but “remained relatively anonymous” until he founded the record label Roc-A-Fella Records at the age of 27 with two other friends.

The same year, Jay Z released his first album, Reasonable Doubt.

Marissa Mayer

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit Gala - New York

At 24, Mayer became employee No. 20 at Google and the company’s first female engineer. She remained with the company for 13 years before moving on to her current role as CEO of Yahoo.

Google didn’t have the sorts of lavish campuses it does now, Mayer said in an interview with VMakers:

During my interviews, which were in April of 1999, Google was a seven-person company. I arrived and I was interviewed at a ping pong table which was also the company’s conference table, and it was right when they were pitching for venture capitalist money, so actually after my interview Larry and Sergey left and took the entire office with them.

Since everyone in the office interviewed you in those days, Mayer had to come back the next day for another round.

Warren Buffett 

Buffett Interviews Source: Nati Harnik

In his early 20s, Buffett worked as an investment salesman for Buffett-Falk & Co. in Omaha before moving to New York to be a securities analyst at age 26. During that year, he started Buffett Partnership, Ltd, an investment partnership in Omaha.

New York just wasn’t for him, Buffett told NBC. ”In some places it’s easy to lose perspective. But I think it’s very easy to keep perspective in a place like Omaha.”

Tina Fey

tina-fey-was-a-child-care-registrar-at-the-ymca-before-joining-famed-improv-troupe-second-city Source: YouTube

After graduating from the University of Virginia, Fey moved to Chicago and hung around acting workshops and even worked as the child-care registrar at a YMCA before improv troupe Second City invited her to join.

Fey told The New Yorker that she joined Second City because she “knew it was where a lot of SNL people started,” and in 1997 she sent scripts to Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels who then hired her as a writer

Sheryl Sandberg

sheryl-sandberg-had-met-mentor-larry-summers-and-was-getting-a-harvard-mba Source: 60 Minutes

At age 25, Sandberg had graduated at the top of the economics department from Harvard, worked at the World Bank under her former professor, mentor, and future Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, and had gone back to Harvard to get her MBA, which she received in 1995.

She went on to work at McKinsey, and at age 29 was Summers’ Chief of Staff when he became Bill Clinton’s Treasury Secretary.

Her time at HBS was a ways before Google, but that experience helped her see the potential of the internet, she said in a commencement speech to HBS grads last year:

“It wasn’t really that long ago when I was sitting where you are, but the world has changed an awful lot. My section, section B, tried to have HBS’s first online class. We had to use an AOL chat room and dial up service (your parents can explain). We had to pass out a list of screen names, because it was unthinkable to put your real name on the internet. And it never worked. It kept crashing … the world wasn’t set up for 90 people to communicate at once online. But for a few brief moments though, we glimpsed the future, a future where technology would power who we are and connect us to our real colleagues, our real family, our real friends”.

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook Messenger Expansion Source: Eric Risberg

Zuckerberg had been hard at work on Facebook for five years by the time he hit age 25. In that year — 2009 — the company turned cash positive for the first time and hit 300 million users. He was excited at the time, but said it was just the start, writing on Facebook that “the way we think about this is that we’re just getting started on our goal of connecting everyone.”

The next year, he was named “Person of the Year” by Time magazine.

Read: “It wasn’t a job – it was a way of life”: The ‘lost tradition’ of Irish lighthouse keepers>

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