1. Thomas Boone Pickens, chairman and CEO of BP Capital ManagementLM Otero/AP/Shutterstock
Thomas Boone Pickens is bullish in his efforts to help the United States win back what he calls our “energy independence,” but at the age of 12, he held a decidedly different gig. “I made sure that every single paper landed on the front porch squarely on the ‘Welcome’ mat,’” he told Inc. “I always smiled and said hello to every person I saw. I held the door for anyone with their hands full and made a point to go above and beyond anything that could possibly be expected of me.
2. Tom Cruise, actorStephen Lovekin/Shutterstock
It’s hard to believe there was a time before Tom Cruise was Tom Cruise, the guy who appears on the big screen doing death-defying stunts. He too was a newspaper delivery boy and still appreciates its life lessons today. “The better I got at delivering newspapers, the more clients I got,” he told Esquire. “And if I missed delivering the paper to a certain house one day, it was: Wow. This guy’s pissed. Then it becomes: What do I do here? And I realized, Oh, I gotta talk to this guy. Handle it. Then you see: Oh, I can fix this. By taking responsibility, I can fix this.”
3. Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire HathawayJagadeesh Nv/ EPA/Shutterstock
It should come as no surprise that billionaire Warren Buffett has been working hard since he was a kid. According to the book The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder, Buffett took on a paper route at the age of 13, delivering copies of the Washington Post. By the time he turned 15, the iconic businessman had socked away $2,000 through the route, and invested $1,200 of it in a 40-acre Nebraska farm through which he had a profit-sharing agreement with a farmer. Proof that some people were born with a mind for money.
4. Walt Disney, animator and entrepreneurMoviestore Collection/Shutterstock
Long before animation and theme parks, newspapers were the Disney family business. Walt Disney’s father owned a newspaper distribution company and gave his son a job delivering papers at a young age … for no pay, according to Entrepreneur magazine. But Disney got crafty with the gig and started selling extra copies on street corners for cash. Waste not, want not, right? Later in life, Disney had an affinity for kids with paper routes, offering them a special Disneyland passport that allowed unlimited rides at an attraction.
5. Sheldon Adelson, casino magnateKin Cheung/AP/Shutterstock
The newspaper business has come full circle for casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who, according to Bloomberg, took on a newspaper route at the age of 12. Back then he was growing up in a rough neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts, as the son of a cabdriver. Today he’s a fixture in Las Vegas, and in 2015 he backed what Mother Jones referred to as a “secret $140 million purchase” of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
6. H. Ross Perot, businessman and former politicianUncredited/AP/Shutterstock
Before he struck it rich in business and took a stab at presidential runs in both 1992 and 1996, H. Ross Perot got his feet wet in the working world as a paperboy. “The Texarkana Gazette really shaped my life,” Perot says. “I’ll never forget them.” The Dallas Morning News reports that Perot was only eight years old when he started his route, proving that his work ethic began at a young age. In 2018 his estimated net worth was reported at $4.2 billion.
7. Andy Beal, billionaire bankerCourtesy Matthew Mahon
You’d think that businessman Andy Beal, as founder of Beal Bank and Beal Aerospace, took on his paper route as a kid to learn something about life and career, like some of his peers. But instead, what he loved most about it was, quite simply, the cash. “I would have hated the job if I had understood I was learning something important,” Beal said in an article published in the Dallas Morning News. “Instead I loved the job because it provided spending money. But in hindsight, I learned so much.”
8. Craig Hall, real estate developerCourtesy Steven Visneau/HALL Group
Interestingly, in a D Magazine profile of real estate developer Craig Hall, he doesn’t paint a particularly entrepreneurial picture of himself despite his present-day success. As a kid, he dreamed of a career in the arts, but the universe clearly had other ideas. Hall actually grew up having more than one paper route at a time, juggling several before leaving the newspaper biz and starting a lawn-service company. Onward and upward, as they say.
9. Bob Hope, actorA.L. 'Whitey' Schafer/Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock
It’s actually not surprising at all that the late actor Bob Hope, a man of many talents, worked a paper route during his youth. Is there anything this man couldn’t do? In fact, according to Parade magazine, the entertaining great is even featured in the Newspaper Association of America’s Newspaper Carrier Hall of Fame.
10. Kathy Ireland, model and business mogulAP/Shutterstock
Yes, even supermodels had paper routes. When she was just 11 years old, Kathy Ireland started her very first paper route, despite some prejudiced naysayers in the neighborhood. “One man was standing in his driveway as I came up and started yelling that it was a boy’s job and I’d never last,” she told Investor’s Business Daily. “I was determined not to let him see me cry and to prove him wrong.” Her current net worth is estimated at $420 million.
11. David Lynch,filmmakerShutterstock
While making his first film, director David Lynch had a paper route delivering the Wall Street Journal. “I did it to support myself while making Eraserhead,” he told the Journal in an interview. “I’d pick up my papers at 11:30 at night. I had throws that were particularly fantastic. There was one where I’d release the paper, which would soar with the speed of the car and slam into the front door of this building, triggering its lobby lights—a fantastic experience.”