Emily Liou

While college is often known as a safe route for most people who are entering corporate America, these five entrepreneurs and creatives have proved that a college degree isn’t required to make millions and billions of dollars. They exemplify how talent, focus, hard work, and determination can contribute to mega success. 

1. Casey Neistat

Casey Neistat is a Youtuber in New York City who has over 8 million subscribers and 2 billion views on his channel. At 15 years old, he dropped out of high school due to his girlfriend’s pregnancy. To stay afloat, he took on odd end jobs like a restaurant dishwasher. His strong passion for film-making eventually led him to NYC where he brought his camera with him everywhere, capturing daily NYC life moments including the 2001 attack. Dozens of his videos have gone viral and throughout the years he even sold his video news-sharing app to CNN for $25 million, despite not being a journalist or a reporter. He has also produced shows for outlets such as HBO due to recognition of his film-making talent.

2. Kanye West

Kanye West is a college dropout, hence the name of his 2004 album. Interestingly enough, his mother was a college professor who believed a college degree was essential and vital to a good life. While Kanye loved English and writing poetry, he found his busy college schedule conflicting with his ability to focus on producing music. Kanye is an example of someone who knew his talents and his passion and decided to pursue his art with full dedication. Kanye West has won 21 Grammy Awards and has a net worth of $145 million.

3. Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg is known as one of the youngest billionaires in the world thanks to his invention of Facebook, which, in 2017 holds a valuation of about $400 billion. Not bad for a college dropout. After seeing explosive growth of the social media platform,Zuckerberg decided to leave Harvard and move to Silicon Valley. He has since received an honorary degree from Harvard University, 12 years after dropping out, when giving a commencement speech to the 2017 graduating class.  

4. Richard Branson

Richard Branson is known as the founder of the Virgin Group, a company owning more than 400 companies including Virgin Mobile, Virgin Records, and Virgin Air. He dropped out of high school at 16 and started his entrepreneurial journey by first staring a magazine publication for students. He soon created a mail-order record business. Due to his success and building a multibillion dollar empire, Branson spends his resources giving back in philanthropic organizations. Branson is currently worth around $5 billion.

5. Rachael Ray

Celebrity Chef Rachael Ray dropped out of college to pursue her passion for food. She started off as a food buyer and landed a TV spot on her local news channel to demonstrate her cooking skills. This eventually led her to land her own TV show and pioneering ’30 minute meal concepts’ which has extended to best-selling books and hosting opportunities on talk shows. Rachael Ray has an estimated net worth of $60 million through her various product lines focused on her passion for food. She even has a dog food product line!

The Recipe for Success

If there is one common theme with all of these entrepreneurs is that they pioneered new solutions and directions for their field of passions. They recognized what they loved to do and poured all of their talent and skills in it. Through producing high-quality work, they were able to be acknowledged and they built opportunities and partnerships to elevate their success to the next level. 


Emily Liou's mission is to help heart-centered professionals live out their life purpose. She believes everyone has untapped potential and loves helping people realize what they are truly capable of. Through private career coaching and ecourses, Emily is passionate about helping as many job seekers out there look forward to Mondays! She is the creator of The Happily Hired Formula and offers tons of free career advice over at her blog CultiVitae.