Top Entrepreneurs Who Turned Adversity Into Opportunity

By its very nature, starting a business is a challenging endeavour and achieving entrepreneurial success under any circumstances is a remarkable feat. But some entrepreneurs have more obstacles to overcome than getting a bank loan or learning how to market their business. We take a look at six entrepreneurs who defied personal odds – including rare serious diseases, brain injuries, near-death accidents and the death of a friend – to start their companies and help millions of people across the globe.

Nick Santonastasso is a medical miracle. He is only one of 4 people who has a rare genetic condition, Hanhart Syndrome. He rose to internet stardom as the guy with one arm and no legs who could lift inconceivably heavy objects.

When he was born, his doctor listed everything that he couldn’t do. Nick vowed to do the unthinkable and become a fitness model, inspirational speaker and bodybuilder – inspiring millions of people through his journey. On his social media channels, he shares his thoughts on acceptance, positivity, and pushing past limits, gaining the admiration of A-list celebrities Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Tony Robbins, and Ed Mylett. 

His message to his followers is that people can flip their mindset from victim to victor by approaching life with gratitude and service. 

Jim Kwik, his real name, is a lead trainer in brain performance, mental fitness and memory improvement. After a childhood brain injury left him with learning challenges, Jim created strategies to enhance his cognitive performance dramatically. He has since dedicated his life to helping others unleash their true genius and brainpower. He is CEO of Kwik Learning, a premier online accelerated learning academy with students in 195 countries. 

Jim is passionate about educational training. His mission is ‘No brain left behind. ‘

Jim believes the brain is a supercomputer and self-talk is a program that will run it. Besides teaching the strategies for reading faster or remembering people’s names, Jim trains his students to believe in themselves, forget old bad habits, and exercise physically to be in a state most conducive to learning.

He is the author of the NY Times and #1 WSJ bestseller: “Limitless – Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, Unlock Your Exceptional Life” and the host of the “Kwik Brain” podcast, which has had tens of millions of downloads. 

Elena Cardone’s life, at a glance, might look like the All-American Dream, but before she found her success, tragedy struck. When she was just 13 years old, her best friend died in a horrific fire across the street from where she lived. She buried this pain which she considers a mistake but something to learn from. At 17 years old, she left home to start her Hollywood career and soon became a successful model and actress. 

Now, she is one half of the empire-building 10X team with her husband, Grant Cardone, who have collectively built a real estate portfolio of almost one billion dollars. 

Elena is passionate about teaching ordinary families to achieve their dreams through teamwork, partnerships and developing a mindset geared towards building an empire. 

Ed Mylett is an entrepreneur and podcast host. Ed’s initial dream was to play major league baseball, but an injury sidelined any chance he had for a professional athletic career. After putting in countless hours of practice and hard work into baseball for so many years, he wasn’t sure what to do next with his life.

While his personal and family life thrived, Ed’s career goals stalled. After several job changes, he came across an exciting opportunity to help raise money to educate underprivileged young people. This experience changed his entrepreneurial perspective. In 1992, he joined the World Financial Group and quickly became a marketing director. He moved to the executive vice president position and then joined the WFG Leadership Team. 

Ed decided to start a podcast and interview a long list of famous peak performers like Andy Frisella, Grant Cardone, Tim Grover, and more to inspire others to become the best versions of themselves. 

Katie Piper has experienced so much pain and joy in just 37 short years. She is a best-selling international author, inspirational speaker, TV presenter and charity campaigner. 

In 2008, she had her life permanently changed when her ex-boyfriend and an accomplice threw sulphuric acid at her face outside her London home. This attack blinded one eye and wounded her face. 

In 2009, Katie decided to share her recovery story in a Channel 4 documentary called ‘Katie: My Beautiful Face’, which was watched by over 3.5 million viewers and nominated for Best Single Documentary at the BAFTA Television Awards in 2010. 

Since then, Katie has opened the UK’s first live-in burn and scar rehabilitation centre and written many books to inspire and empower women. She is also the face of global beauty brands, including Pantene and L’Oréal.

Katie has accepted her life has completely changed since 2008. Now, she is determined to challenge the beauty industry’s standards and carve out a new narrative for women to be authentic and confident with who they are.  

David Meltzer is the Co-Founder of Sports 1 Marketing and formerly served as CEO of the renowned Leigh (“Lee”) Steinberg Sports & Entertainment agency, which was the inspiration for the movie Jerry Maguire.

David was a millionaire just nine months out of law school. He built a 120 million dollar business portfolio, accumulated $100 million, owned many different properties, including a ski mountain, but one day he lost everything. 

When he came back from his loss, he vowed to learn from his mistakes and be an example and educate the younger generation of entrepreneurs.

Now, David is considered one of the top esports entrepreneurs and investors. He is also a three-time international best-selling author, a Top 100 Business Coach, and host of a top entrepreneur podcast, The Playbook. More than educating people about business, he is passionate about empowering over a billion people to be happy!

“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.” 

Kenji Miyazawa 

Those who exhibit resilience find ways not just to overcome hardship and obstacles but transform adversity into opportunity. They see adversity as essential fuel for life’s journey.

We all face hardships in life. Some people flourish in trying times, and some people get stuck in uncertainty and despair. That’s not to say we must learn to harden ourselves or be numb to feeling any emotion. We can learn from these six entrepreneurs to exhibit mental toughness and grit to feel that pain but then face reality, evaluate options, create a plan and commit to moving forward. 

Everyone has the power to create a fantastic life and business. But it takes courage and resilience to see that dream through. Want the blueprint to success from these top 6 entrepreneurs? Learn their lessons by signing up to the Virtual Success Academy. Sign up here for this virtual event hosted by Success Resources.  

This article first appears on ThriveGlobal.