By Bowen Park
Whether it's slinging fries in a hideous polyester outfit or serving smorgasbord at an old folk's home, everyone's had at least one seriously sucky job. We asked some successful entrepreneurs to share their "personal worst"--and what it taught them about running their own businesses.
Name/Age: Eddison Bramble/35
Company/Location: New Image Media/Long Island, New York
Product: Fashion magazine
"I was a door-to-door vacuum salesman one summer in college. I was the only black salesperson in an all-white neighborhood that had a reputation for racism and continued denial of housing to blacks. Even though many doors shut in my face and disparaging comments were made, I was amazed at my ability to get individuals to let me into their homes. That experience strengthened my resolve that proper training and sheer determination can overcome the highest barriers."
Name/Age: Anita Ko/24
Company/Location: Trash Bags/Los Angeles
Product: Fabric handbags
"My friend and I decided to do this little T-shirt line a few years ago. The job of T-shirt salesperson was hard for me since I was only 20 and many of the [store owners] were in their 40s and 50s. I got over my fear of going forward and learned that the people who make it are the ones who keep going even in the toughest of times. Even though the line didn't work out, it led me to where I am now."
Name/Age: Robert Jungmann/29
Company/Location: Manastash Inc./Seattle
Product: Outdoor hemp clothing and accessories
"My worst job was as a real-estate appraiser. The job was great, [except for] the boss I had for three months. He taught me to show my employees respect and to give them the tools they need to take on more responsibility. I learned this from him as these were the areas in which he lacked."