who embody all that is the spirit and the tenacity of their ilk.
Miguel "Mike" Fernandez, Laurie Silvers and Ed Iacobucci have embraced risk and created businesses that are on the cutting edge of their industries.
Here are their stories:
Health care magnate Mike Fernandez, 59, may be a billionaire today, but he wasn't born well-off, the son of a merchant in Manzanillo, Cuba, a small town with dirt roads.
Yet very early on, he showed signs that he would be an entrepreneur.
Fernandez was 12 when his family arrived in New York in 1964, after living in Mexico for a few months. Preparing for high school, he picked out a top Catholic school and got accepted on a scholarship. His father, who worked three jobs, asked him if the scholarship was because of his grades. He said no, it was because he was Hispanic.
"Then I suggest you go get a job, and you pay half and I'll pay half," he recalls his father saying. "We don't take charity."
Fernandez got two jobs, including one, on the weekends, working at the American Museum of Natural History's gift kiosk.
There, he sold key chains, plastic Triceratops, film for cameras, and the like, but he noticed that the store didn't have a plastic Brontosaurus, the most popular exhibit, or photo flash bulbs, which were needed for the darkened museum. He suggested the items to the manager, who told him to mind his own business, he recalls.
After his second week on the job, he went to the storeroom and found the name of the company that supplied the kiosk's merchandise. He got on the subway, went to the company, and bought 100 plastic Brontosauruses and 25 flash bulbs.
"I sold out within hours," Fernandez said. And he made a 300 percent profit. But the manager chastised him for going against her orders.
Yet, it set off a light bulb in his mind, and he realized he could become independent.
He has never responded well to authority, and was never good at following orders, he said. He held the record for the most detentions at school. And when he was drafted into the Army in 1972, he was promoted three times and demoted three times, leaving after three years at the same rank at which he had entered.
"I always had to define my own way," Fernandez said. "In some ways it has paid off."
He spent just one year at the University of New Mexico, majoring in architecture, before being drafted. He remembers the dean telling his class that if they chose the field to make money, they were in the wrong profession. It is his most vivid college memory.
Fernandez's first business was as an independent agent for an insurance company, making $500 a month. He didn't like the direness of selling life insurance, so he gravitated to health insurance. He built up a brokerage portfolio, focusing on airlines, and by 1979 he had seven national airlines as clients. He was in his mid-20s, and making $1.5 million a year.
He knew he would be outbid eventually, so he put his book of business up for sale, and it brought $4.5 million. He was 27.
"After a month of retirement," he said, "I realized I have a passion for what I do."
In 1981, when the first IBM personal computer came out, he decided he could automate insurance data. He founded Miami-based Group Tech Systems,
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