Some of the most influential people and figureheads have found their ultimate success through business. No matter the ultimate career goal or destination, it is all but proven that success in business can open doors to successes elsewhere. Some of the most affluent U.S. Politicians have seen their starts this way. We delve into stories of ambition, trial, and tribulation. These are the stories of 10 politicians who actually made their fortunes in personal business, not politics.
Herbert “Herb” Kohl is a former United States Senator and member of the democratic party. Early on, Kohl displayed a strong sense of ambition, earning a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Wisconsin, and soon after, a Master of Business Administration from Harvard. He was also a member of the army reserve.
After earning his educational merits, Kohl began market and real estate investment work. This led to the creation of his investment company, Kohl Investments. Soon after, Kohl and his brother became heirs to a large, family owned commercial chain – Kohl’s. He became president and eventually oversaw company merger with Batus Incorporated. He continued service as executive or president until ultimate sale in 1979.
Herb Kohl was, by now, already highly successful and wealthy. But he was not through. Kohl went on to serve in the U.S. Senate and on numerous special committees from 1989 to 2013. Kohl is alive and well and is an active member of the community and owner of the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team.
Born in 1912, Winthrop Rockefeller was to become a figure of great business success and eventual political importance. First however, he would attend several schools and encounter notable difficulties, including his colorful expulsion from Yale University for misconduct.
Challenges aside, Rockefeller moved to Arkansas and established Winrock Enterprises and Winrock Farms. These establishments saw great success and made Rockefeller a big figure of the time. From here, Rockefeller began mingling with politics and finally, in 1967, became the 37th governor of Arkansas.
Winthrop Rockefeller passed away at age 60 in 1973. His self-established companies were what made him a great success. In his final years, Rockefeller engaged in considerable philanthropic works and often enjoyed his very own Museum of Automobiles, at Petit Jean Mountain.
Amory Houghton, Jr.
Amory “Amo” Houghton Jr was a highly motivated figure of business and political record. His early years saw Houghton through Marine Corps service and an extensive education from Harvard University. After becoming interested in the political forum, Houghton became elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1986.
At the time of his election to this coveted New York, 29th District seat, he was one of the wealthiest members in the entire house. His estimated worth at the time: $475 million. Aside from dollar values, Houghton soon became a highly valued, respected, and prominent Republican house-figure. Records show his re-elections averaging a very fulfilling 70% or more of the vote.
What made Amo Houghton so successful and wealthy? He was a staunch and influential businessman. His positions included CEO of Corning Glass Works and Board Director of Citigroup, IBM, Genentech, and Procter & Gamble.
Willard “Mitt” Romney
Mitt Romney was born on March 12, 1947 to parents Lenore and George Romney. Throughout his youth and early adulthood, Mitt was very driven – serving as a missionary, earning a Bachelor of Arts, and a follow-up, joint Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration. Well armed with an impressive education, a strong religious background, and business tenacity, Mitt then entered the business world.
In 1977, Mitt began working in management consulting for Bain & Company. He worked his way up to CEO of the failing company, while pulling it out of crisis and into profit. In 1984, Mitt co-founded the highly successful company-affiliate, Bain Capital. From here, Romney served as CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics.
By this point, Romney was already worth a fortune. His success was far from over though; Politics called. In 2002, Romney was elected as Governor of Massachusetts. He continued membership in special government boards committees. He also ran for the presidency for the republican party in 2008 and 2012.
Arnold Schwarzenneger began his multifaceted career as a youth bodybuilder. His notoriety in this endeavor led to many business opportunities with gym and weightlifting equipment endorsements, and other cash-drawing affiliations. Soon thereafter, the Austria-born Schwarzenneger was to become a high-value fixture of Hollywood and cinema entertainment, playing as lead actor in a wide array of action-adventure roles.
His well-found business successes made Schwarzenneger a likely, up-and-coming political candidate, and in 2003, he was elected as California’s 38th acting governor. This role he played until 2010. His leadership style was heralded as highly innovative and angled towards public service. Despite recent affair admissions and marital disruption, Schwarzenneger continues TV and movie appearances, and a fairly active public presence.
Jon Stevens Corzine, the eventual political figurehead was born January 1, 1947. His early career was launched by his graduation from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business with an MBA. Originally, Corzine worked in several positions in the banking and finance industry. In 1975 he would begin work with Goldman Sachs and move to New Jersey.
This move would make Corzine a wealthy and noteworthy business figure. His service as company CEO as well as $400 million in departure monies made Corzine very wealthy and very well-known. Corzine was then elected to a United States Senate term lasting six years. This concluded with the beginning of a four-year tenure of New Jersey State Governor.
Corzine also went on to act as CEO of MF Global Incorporated. However, this post-political role was not as successful as the many similar positions held in the past. He would resign from the failed company in October of 2011. To date, Corzine lives a fairly private life.
Born February 14, 1942, Michael Bloomberg was a child born of World War II, and living in Medford, Massachusetts. He quickly began to show the world his extreme ambition and thirst for success. Without any outside help, Bloomberg put himself through Harvard and Johns Hopkins. He then became a business partner with Salomon Brothers. Subsequently, Bloomberg found himself a billionaire.
This amazing jump from a virtual “no-one” to “someone” was the direct result of another of Bloomberg’s entrepreneurial endeavors: the creation of his own company, Bloomberg L.P. This revolutionary company completely changed information security and storage processes across the globe. This also made its creator one of the richest men in the world.
In 2002, Michael Bloomberg became New York City’s 108th city mayor. This would turn into three terms of service. Bloomberg’s accomplishments also include book authorship, philanthropy, and other forms of public and service.
Albert Arnold “Al” Gore Jr. was born to an attorney mother and senator father in 1948. High-marks of his career include Nobel Peace Prize winner, accomplished environmentalist, 45th Vice President of the U.S, and multiple non-profit organization founder.
Before all this, there was Al Gore, the young, so-far unaccomplished adult. He attended Harvard and majored in government, only doing exceedingly well in his final years of program. Regardless, Gore managed to graduate in 1969 with an AB cum laude. And regardless of such scholastic accolades, Gore’s patriotism drove him to enlist in the Army and passionately serve in Vietnam.
Gore later went on to serve in the United States Congress, and on many special government committees and boards. His years of government service culminated with his vice-presidency under Bill Clinton, as well as two presidential runs.
Gore’s early, non-government-related, business successes were few. He served in Vietnam, worked as a journalist, and pursued a law education, which was cut short for a run at a vacant House of Representatives seat. Gore’s post political successes are much more numerous: author, producer, philanthropist, environmentalist, consultant in sustainability, business operator, and much more. Gore continues as an accomplished businessman and modern entrepreneur to this day.
From 2001 to 2009, Richard Bruce “Dick” Cheney served as the nation’s 46th vice-president under George W. Bush. Prior to his vice-presidency, Cheney also served as White House Chief of Staff, Secretary of Defense, House of Representatives member, and House Minority Whip. Before his political importance took hold, Cheney was a regular kid from Wyoming.
Upon entering adulthood, Cheney knew he wanted to work in politics. He was enrolled at Yale twice, and both times flunked-out. Then, he attended the University of Wyoming and got his act together, obtaining a Master’s in Political Science. Soon after, Cheney began his political career, during which and after he found great private-sector, business success.
Cheney served as CEO to Halliburton, which was sold through merger, making him very wealthy. He also served as director of the Council on Foreign Relations Organization. In addition, Cheney served on the board of advisors for JINSA. In late 2000, Cheney’s estimated worth was around $100 million, with a total yearly income of nearly $9 million.
Mark Robert Warner, as many know him, is a seasoned, veteran politician. He served as Governor of Virginia from 2002 to 2006. He is the chairman for Forward Together PAC, and is a currently a long-serving, U.S Senator. However, his non-political endeavors alone were responsible for much of Warner’s great accomplishment and personal wealth.
Warner earned a B.A in political science with a perfect, 4.0 GPA. During this time, he did some intern work on Capitol Hill, just prior to attending Harvard Law School and earning his Juris Doctor in law. By 1983, Warner was doing very well for himself, acting as a broker for cell phone licensing to franchises. He then created his own venture capital firm, Columbia Capital. Many companies such as Nextel owed their early start-up directly to Warner’s credit through the services of his company.
Mark Warner is still very active today. Not only is he an active senator, but he also runs his own successful farm and wine-making business. Mr. Warner can usually be found on Capitol Hill or near his home in Alexandria, Virginia.
These politicians all prove that success is what you make it. From humble beginnings to easier starts, all had to eventually work hard to make a name for themselves. Politics however was the least financially lucrative of their deeds and works.