Farrah Gray is a business and social entrepreneur, philanthropist, bestselling author and syndicated columnist, motivational speaker, and a principal of Realty Pros Asset Management. He was born 9th Sept 1984.
Raised in the impoverished south side of Chicago, Dr. Farrah Gray defied the odds and became history’s youngest self-made millionaire, beyond the field of entertainment, by age fourteen.
Adversity forced Farrah Gray to help supplement his family’s income from the age of just 6 years. He started his business venture by selling hand painted rocks from door to door. Growing up in inner-city Chicago in the 1980s, Gray grew accustomed to days “when the only thing in our refrigerator was the light that came on when you opened the door,” he writes in his book, “Reallionaire.” So he was determined from a young age to become self-sufficient. He credits the poverty of his childhood as the great motivating factor.
At 6 years old, he looked around his block in search of something that could be converted into a saleable product, and settled on rocks. “There’s no idea dumb enough you can’t get at least a billion people to buy into,” he says about his first $50 profit. He began by painting and refashioning the rocks to make them into bookends and doorstops.
“It’s the spirit of the Third World entrepreneur,” he says. “You have to create your own job. You can’t wait to rely on Exxon or Wal-Mart to hire you. And that’s the spirit I try to teach to young entrepreneurs.”
Following his stint as the rock-salesman, Gray moved on to homemade body lotions and eventually his bigger enterprises, which included prepaid phone cards.
Between the ages of 12 and 16 years old, Mr. Gray founded and operated business ventures that included KIDZTEL pre-paid phone cards, the One Stop Mail Boxes & More franchise and The Teenscope “Youth AM/FM” interactive teen talk show, Gray was also Executive Producer of a comedy show on the Las Vegas Strip and owner of Farr-Out Foods, “Way-Out Food with a Twist, aimed at young people with the company’s first Strawberry-Vanilla syrup product. Farr-Out Foods generated orders exceeding $1.5 million.
As a pre-teen, Gray reached 12 million listeners and viewers every Saturday night as co-host of “Backstage Live,” a syndicated television and radio simulcast in Las Vegas. Gray’s inspirational spirit and grounded personality sparked speaking requests from organizations around the country. Mr. Gray’s sense of social responsibility motivated him to create the non-profit organization, The Farrah Gray Foundation. Among other programs and initiatives, his foundation focuses on inner city community-based entrepreneurship education and provides scholarship & grant assistance for students from at-risk backgrounds to attend HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). Mr. Gray donates his honorariums from speaking engagements and the proceeds of his book to his foundation in what he refers to as his “self-imposed” youth tax. The Farrah Gray Foundation is also in partnership with the Kauffman Foundation, launching entrepreneurship programs in inner-city schools across the country.
Gray has many “firsts” and “the youngest” to his name – at the age of 15 he was the youngest member of the Board of Advisor for the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce; at the same age he was elected to sit on the Board of Directors of the United Way of Southern Nevada, becoming the youngest director ever to sit on a United Way board across the nation; at the age of 20 he was elected a member of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers’ Board of Directors of Region 15, becoming its youngest member; at 21 he became the youngest person to receive an honorary doctorate from South Carolina’s Allen University; when he set up his Wall Street office he was the youngest businessman to have an office at this significant address. In other instances Farrah Gray is proud to be included in an elite group of people such as being named one of the “20 Modern History Makers” in a special issue for the anniversary of Upscale Magazine; a Living Legend by Who’s Who in Black Las Vegas; and one of the Top Ten Sexiest Black CEOs by Black Voices, together with Tiger Woods, Kenneth Chenault and Sean Combs. And last but not least by any means – making his first million dollars at the age of 14!
Gray has had many honor awarded to him, among them the keys to several cities – Shreveport, Cincinnati and Dallas – as well as receiving proclamations from many governors and mayors across the nation.
Of course, for every Farrah Gray, there’s the countless number of failed young entrepreneurs. The multimillionaire himself was forced to confront challenges beyond just getting the financing for an idea. As a black man, Gray says that he is regularly discriminated against. Just recently, when a book of his was published in Russia, his picture was taken off the cover. “I was OK with it, knowing it was a marketing decision, and that the information would still get out.”
Nevertheless, Gray has become the millennial generation’s poster child and a leading cheerleader for striking it on your own, at as early an age as you’d like. Among his high-profile backers is Bill Clinton. And according to research compiled by the Kauffmann Foundation, which is a partner of the Farrah Gray Foundation, Gray’s story is indicative of a generational entrepreneurial drive. From 2007 to 2010, roughly 40 percent of those aged 18 to 24 have expressed a desire to start their own business, if they haven’t already done so. The most recent data set for 2010 came from polling over 5,000 young adults, with help from Harris Interactive Polls.
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