Shark Tank

Kevin O’Leary sheds a tear and opens up about his rise to millions


Mr. Wonderful might seem tough, but beyond his harsh exterior, Kevin O'Leary is a self-made mogul who earned every bit of his success through dedication and hard work.

O'Leary was only seven years old when his father died, leaving his mother alone with two children and a very uncertain future. Things got back on track when his mother remarried a man named George, who eventually became O'Leary's stepfather and changed the course of his life forever.

George worked for a division of the United Nations, which shuttled the family all over the world. They lived in Cambodia, Cyprus, Tunisia, Japan, France, Switzerland; every two years it was a different country. O'Leary says, "Looking back at all the unique cultures that I've been steeped in, you understand everybody's challenges in the world, not just your own."

O'Leary's stepdad was also the one who spoke up when he tried out the hippie lifestyle after college. George advised, "You're going to starve to death. You should go back to school right now." O'Leary listened, and after graduation started his first company Soft Key, which eventually turned into The Learning Company, which he sold for $4.2 billion.

Today, O'Leary is proud to be an entrepreneur and to help other entrepreneurs so that they can create jobs. He says, "There's nothing nobler in America than doing that."

And while O'Leary is proud of his career, he still gets teary-eyed at the thought of what his father would think of it. O'Leary says that if he could go back in time and speak to his father, he would express his gratitude for all the lessons that got him to where he is today. O'Leary thinks his father would be proud of what he achieved and is grateful to relive that journey over and over again with the companies he is funding.

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