Marissa Mayer has been called the “the hardest working CEO in Silicon Valley, bar none.” In the tech pocket which spans across San Jose, that’s high praise indeed. While startup culture is full of lavish perks, those perks exist to counterbalance an extremely demanding career. One engineer at Facebook reported that he was expected to be on call 24/7, including when he was sleeping at home.
But if you needed to reach Marissa Mayer during the witching hour, you’d likely just have to go to her office. Mayer worked 130-hour workweeks while at Google, pulling an all-nighter at least once a week and routinely sleeping in her office. “These companies don’t just happen.” Mayer once told Bloomberg. “They happen because of hard work.”
Hard work is one of the top metrics for success – and none of the world’s most successful people have climbed the career ladder without it. But where is that kind of work ethic forged? It usually begins early on, in a career space most of us know well. We call this space, or lack of space, the struggle.
Every successful person has persisted through trying times. Whether you’re working your way through school, side-hustling on the side to save up for your own small business, or simply weathering a career slump and working a job you hate, the struggle can be very real.
Marissa Mayer once worked as a checkout cashier in the County Market in her hometown of Wausau, Wisconsin. But working a less-than-glamorous job didn’t stop her from using her job as an opportunity to learn something new. She later told Fortune that the position taught her about family economics and how families have to frequently make trade-offs to get what they want.
The following infographic, courtesy of Fundera, showcases 10 successful people who had less-than-glamorous jobs before they found the job of their dreams.