Success Stories By Dick Kazan - Valuable lessons on how to succeed in business and in life
Published on Tue June 7, 2005

     By pursuing your passion, you may achieve something as remarkable as Joseph Pulitzer did. Pulitzer, a poor Hungarian immigrant attained great power, influence and wealth in journalism.


     In 1864, Pulitzer arrived in Boston penniless and with little education. After briefly serving the North during the Civil War, he moved to St. Louis as a laborer and worked 16 hours a day at two grimy jobs, including one as a grave digger. But he was determined to make something more of himself and studied four hours a day in the library, leaving him only four hours a night to sleep.


     Ironically, the door to opportunity opened for him when he got conned. Pulitzer and 40 other laborers answered an ad and paid a man a fee so they could work what were supposedly good jobs on a Louisiana sugar plantation. That night, the man put them on a steamboat headed down the Mississippi River. But in the wee hours of the morning, Pulitzer and the 40 other men were abruptly awakened and then abandoned in a dark, deserted spot 40 miles south of St. Louis, as the con man had pre-arranged.  


     Realizing they’d been conned, they got so angry, they wanted to kill the con-artist. But it took this humiliated and bitter group of men three days to trudge back to St. Louis and by that time, the man was long gone. Exhausted, hungry and disillusioned, Pulitzer by chance met a reporter with the German-language newspaper, Westliche Post and poured his heart out to him.


    The newspaper’s co-owner and co-editor, Dr. Emil Preetorius was deeply moved by Pulitzer’s first hand account of being scammed and published it. He offered Pulitzer writing assignments, and those went so well, that he hired him as a reporter. “I could not believe it,” Pulitzer later said. “I, the unknown, the luckless, almost a boy of the streets, selected for such a responsibility--it all seemed like a dream.”


     Working day and night, Pulitzer enthusiastically covered breaking news stories, did political interviews and willingly tackled every assignment he was given. His work became so important to the newspaper, that the owners treated him like a co-owner, which he later became. Ridicule about his Jewish roots stopped as Pulitzer became an outstanding reporter for he had found what was to become his lifelong passion for journalism. Today his name is known for the prestigious Pulitzer prizes, awarded for excellence in journalism, literature, music, drama and photography.    


     In the next KazanToday: A big mistake Sam Walton made that was so bad, it “was the low point” of his career. Ironically, it later helped him build Wal-Mart into the world’s largest retailer..

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