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10 CEOs Reveal How They Got to Where They Are

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If you want to succeed in business without really trying, you might be out of luck.

As evidenced by these 10 stories posted by Reddit users, climbing the corporate ladder (and becoming CEO) takes hard work.

1. “I worked in the industry for a few years and learned the ins and outs. Then, I started a company with my best friend. We took out a loan for starter capital. We ran the business together successfully for 4.5 years and then sold the company off asset by asset and paid off the full loan. We remained best friends, and with the money I made, I started another company, which I run today.”

2. “I started the company. I don’t think I could’ve worked my way up the corporate ladder honestly. I don’t like someone else telling me how to work.”

via GIPHY

3. “I’m probably late to the party, so here’s a quick summary of my story. I started my own business selling B2B technologies and grew it from my house to a few million in revenue and about 20 employees working remotely. After nearly 20 years, I sold it to a much larger company and have ‘retired for now.’ How did I get there? I damn near killed myself over it with stress. I worked 50-80 hour weeks. I gained 40 lbs. Therapy. Lawsuits. Lots of planning of every possible if-then scenario. Crawling into myself to find a morsel of energy in my worn-out carcass to pull through another terrible situation. On the phone with vendors through the night. Lost friendships. Terrible relationships. Lost youth. Jaw-grinding anger. Now with a few million in my pocket, at 39 years old, I don’t work and am finally enjoying life.”

4. “I worked for the company for 13 years. The boss and I started butting heads about the future of the company. I chose to buy him out. So, I bought the company and became president and CEO.”

via GIPHY

5. “I just kind of took it a day at a time. I had an idea at age 24, and from there I never questioned the idea’s needs. I just catered to them. I wrote some scripts, hired an artist with my meager savings, hired more artists, went into some debt and ran a few crowdfunding campaigns. Fast-forward to age 30 and at the production’s peak, earlier this year, I was hiring 10 full-time artists.”

6. “You can create a corporation in the state of Delaware for roughly $200. Note: It’s fine if you don’t live there, but you will need an agent who does, which you can find for $75. And once you do that, you can declare yourself as the CEO. So a perfectly valid answer to this question would be: ‘I paid someone $250 for the hell of it.'”

7. “It’s actually a lot easier to be the head of a company than you may think. I have a job now that affords me a decent disposable income, and like a lot of people, I want to use that money to buy property. The problem is, again, like many others’, that property is super expensive. In Bulgaria, however, you can get houses super cheap. The catch is you need to buy it through a business if you’re a foreigner. First you set up a company, then you can use that company to buy a house.”

via GIPHY

8. “I flunked out of school at 17. I’d been coding since I was a kid for fun and started working professionally as a web developer at 16. From 18 to 19 I traveled around the world taking on odd jobs as a dishwasher/promoter/whatever. I returned to London with the sharp realization that nobody was going to hire me to do anything interesting with zero qualifications, so I started founding companies with the idea that if nobody would put me in an interesting position in an organization, I would create them myself. I tried to start an online record label, founded an events production company, ran a music festival (briefly) and then founded a digital agency called Playlab. I enjoyed some decent success and made a living, eventually growing to a company of eight people. I’m still a director there, but eventually I moved on to my current company, BfB labs, which creates mobile health products that use wearable sensors to drive their efficacy.”

9. “My brother was a CEO of an oil and gas company. He got there by hard work and being good at his job. Also, he is kind of a hardass.”

10. “Not by Redditing at 9 a.m. on a workday, that’s for sure.”

All posts have been edited from Reddit for length and clarity.