3 Business Stories of Courage, Determination and Passion

There is no crystal ball. (Defined: “A crystal ball is a crystal or glass ball believed by some people to aid in the performance of clairvoyance.”).

Or at least, not in the REAL world. There is simply no way to predict the future.

Except, for one area….

When it comes to the economy.

For example, the likelihood of next 20 years being similar to the last 20. It will share similar patterns, trends, and behave PRETTY MUCH the same. (not getting into the nitty gritty here, crash in the real estate sub-prime markets, etc). You can look at any trend line, even human history – and you’ll know that day turns into night, sun rises, falls, we are born, we die…

You get my drift, right?

With cyclical patterns like these how can we turn them into positives? Assuming you are not watching the Situation Room, sensation-based news media, or any other stupid shows that provide NO value and positive attribution to your life, let’s look at:

3 HUGE success case studies that show how negative dips in business and life can make millionaires and impactful outomes from virtually nothing.


This young entrepreneur struggled for years, always in debt, understaffed and was on the brink of bankruptcy. In the 1950’s – there wasn’t much in terms of amusement parks, and it was a horrific industry to even consider to do business in. However, this man dreamed of a future place where families could truly enjoy their visits, happily eat the food, laugh and share stories. And much more. Even when people around him, his own family (!) said it couldn’t be done, he became more determined than ever. He moved ahead all on his own, and used all the money he had, emptied the savings and sold any assets lying around to make it happen. Disneyland opened in the early Fall of 1955 with 18 attractions. By the end of the first year, it had hosted more than 3.5 million guests.


The depression of 1929 devastated many people, businesses. Lives ruined, people died. However, one young man who had in previous years (starting in 1898) been such an enterprising worker that had started with just a couple of stores, grown to 34 stores by 1912, lost it all during the Great Depression. In fact, by that time, he had 1,400 stores across the USA. But, he was in financial ruin. Like so many, he lost so much to the stock market. He had kept some money behind, and used it to restart his business. He was able to meet the day-to-day expenses, and barely kept up with payroll. But, it was enough to grow. Today, the stores rake in about $18.5 billion each year. It was James Cash Penney, or as you know it – “JC Penney”.


A hard working gentleman (52 years old at the time) who had slaved away in machine sales most of his life, somewhat accidentally discovered a food joint in San Bernardino in 1954. There was a large line of folks outside, and the simple menu and food caught his eye. He convinced the two brothers to sell him the place, and to share their trade secrets with him. He opened the first store in 1955, but faced massive challenges with cash flow, competition and the economy in general. But, he was determined to stay with it, determined to be successful, and worked day and night to build his empire. He even pushed the boundaries of his own advertising and created a mascot to serve as the official ‘head’ of the company. He passed away in 1984, just 10 months before it’s 50 BILLIONth sale. Yes, it was Ray Croc, the founder of McDonald’s (Ronald McDonald is still the mascot today).

And, while you may have said: “well, it was easy for them” – it’s time to reconsider your own situation. Are you willing to step up, and do what it takes? Of course, the answer is yes, but you ought to consider just one more thing: time is marching on. How much time do you have left to leave your legacy and make an impact on the world? Think BIG, and start with the first step. And, it’s ok to fail. That’s the only way you get better. Others have done it many times before you. (see above, for example!)

It’s also true that a successful life is one where the health, finance, relationship, and spiritual realms are manifested in a way that works for you.

So – money is not everything, but it rates right up there with OXYGEN, as Zig Ziglar would say.

Americans worry about 8 financial matters the most:

(Recent study, Gallup Poll)

  1. Not having enough money for retirement (66%)
  2. Not being able to pay medicate costs for a serious illness/accident (60%)
  3. Not being able to maintain your standard of living (58%)
  4. Not being able to pay medical costs for normal healthcare (48%)
  5. Not having enough to pay your normal monthly bills (43%)
  6. Not having enough money to pay for your children’s college (41%)
  7. Not being able to pay rent/mortgage/other housing costs (36%)
  8. Not being able to make the minimum payments on your credit cards (24%)

Over time, these have remained about the same, but during this recent recession, numbers are up.

This post was written to educate you about the possibilities, and also the (negative) mindset that we all get into. It’s a protection mechanism ingrained in all of us, from ancient times. It’s important to learn and continuously grow. And, moving forward with a strong goal-oriented mind, is part of a great success strategy.

If you want to learn more about how to build a business during tough times, I will share more of my story, failures and success in an upcoming tele-seminar.

There is nothing to buy, but it might help you:



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Entrepreneur Magazine says Jon Rognerud is one of the most sought-after Digital Marketing Experts. His clients extend from high-end brands and middle-tier businesses in both B2B and B2C. His SEO website optimization book, "The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website" from Entrepreneur Press is in bookstores now.