August 25, 2016 10:30 AM

When he was growing up, Jim Cramer says he would hear other kids talk about something that he didn’t have: money.

“I would always hear about people getting an allowance, and I said, ‘Why don’t I have one?’ ” Cramer, 61, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “My father said, ‘For what?’ I was like, ‘I get the picture. I’ll go to work.’ ”

It was this self-reliance and drive – not to mention a killer skill selling ice cream and soda at Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium – that set Cramer on a path to his financial empire and TV career, as host of CNBC‘s Mad Money.

It wasn’t easy: Cramer says his early career as a journalist, after graduating from Harvard on a scholarship, started with rejections from 57 newspapers before he landed at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner as a crime reporter.

Subsequently, Cramer ended up back at Harvard, in law school, where he turned his longtime interest in the stock market into a side business: “Every Sunday night I would leave stock tips on my answering machine.”

For more on Jim Cramer’s career and the lessons he has learned along the way, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

Kate Gosselin and her children on the cover of PEOPLE

That led to a career in money management, which led to Goldman Sachs and then to CNBC. Cramer credits his success to his hunger and perseverance – and luck.

“I was able to use my skills to be able to get to a really good place that I’m thrilled about,” Cramer says. “But I think that people never gave enough credit to luck, and I was very lucky to be at the right place at the right time at many points in my career.”

“I’ve had lots of ups and downs,” he says, “and you just gotta [get] up every morning and put your pants on.”

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