Cleaning bathroomsCourtesy Tammy Kling
You never know where greatness will come from—just check out the stories of nine ordinary people who changed history. CEO of OnFire Books, Tammy Kling has always had the urgency to write. It’s not because she wanted to be famous or sell a lot of copies (although she has thousands of followers and is a best-selling author). Her urgency comes from a real need to speak to a reader one-on-one. When Kling was seven, her father committed suicide. She says, “My number one mission is suicide prevention.” (Check out this amazing story of a suicide that was prevented.) The message of “never give up” comes up often in the books she works on. Through her role at OnFire Books, Kling helps top executives, celebrities, and other noteworthy influencers tell their stories in hopes to help someone else. Perseverance is a common theme in life advice from revolutionary individuals. Before starting her company from scratch, she worked many grueling jobs—such as being a hostess at Chili’s Bar and Grill and airline executive. Her very first job was scrubbing toilets at an office building, a gig that was supposed to teach her the value of hard work. She’s now against the idea of making kids do dirty work. She says, “Leadership is about leading, not punishing.” This value is reflecting in a key aspect of OnFire Books’ homeless writer’s division in which homeless shelters are given inspirational reading material and the people facing homelessness are given the opportunity to transcribe interviews and life stories from top executives. She says, ” If you know you want to change lives and you’re not doing it, you have to take a step.”
Her words of wisdom: What matters is who we are, not what we do.
Ready for more inspiration? Read life advice from Steve Jobs, Shonda Rhimes, and J.K Rowling.
Working the front desk at the gymCourtesy Adam Sedlack
Adam Sedlack is the president of UFC—Ultimate Fighting Championship—gym. The successful chain features mixed martial arts training. (Here’s how to save money on your gym membership.) Sedlack didn’t realize training and gym ownership would be part of his future when, at the age of 22, he took his first job at the front desk of a gym called Family Fitness. “This was intended as a summer job where I could have a place to work-out and meet girls,” says Sedlack. Officially his job was to greet customers and answer phones. Unofficially he was “the food boy,” a nickname given to him by the management team who liked him. He wrote, “I always seemed to be responsible to voyage out to get food for the team.” Sedlack initially liked the free membership perk of the job, and management’s willingness to promote from within. He moved on to a fitness instructor, salesperson, and assistant general manager. “I intended to continue my education and have this as a summer job only,” he says. “I never considered the fitness industry as a platform that could turn into a career.” At Family Fitness, Stedlack had several business mentors that led to him realizing his passion for the fitness industry was a viable path to follow to reach the top. He says, “The fitness industry allows for people to find the best version of themselves. It is one of the only services that is sold that we can truly say most everyone on planet earth should participate in.”
His words of wisdom: Hard work creates luck; there are very few examples where I worked hard and failed. Mentorship is critical; people want to know that you have their back and are progressing both professionally and personally. Emotional intelligence can allow you to succeed no matter who you are working with.