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Rags to Riches CEOs


Look where they are now.


Corporate leaders -- with their soaring salaries, fat-cat bonuses and ridiculous perks -- have become lightning rods for public outcry in recent years. Once upon a time, we might have admired the kind of prowess that takes an executive to the corner suite. But these days it's hard to muster warm feelings for anyone earning millions while so many other people search the job ads.

Or is it?

What if we told you that the woman leading Xerox had grown up in the projects on Manhattan's Lower East Side? That her mother used to keep her motivated by reminding her, "Where you are is not who you are." Even Ken Lewis, the departing CEO of Bank of America, learned the value of a part-time job -- in his case, selling Christmas cards after his father walked out on the family when Lewis was just 12 years old.

Here, we profile nine corporate leaders who exemplify the American dream. They started with little and worked their way to the top, accumulating status and wealth along the way.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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