Second Acts: 12 People Who Didn’t Get Rich Until Their Second Careers

Jim Koch

People probably think that getting into the family business is the easy way out. Not so for Jim Koch, who had a successful career on his own as a business consultant. He wasn’t interested in the family brewing business, and for many years preferred the corner office and first-class travel that being a consultant offered.

Eventually, the allure wore off, and he was exhausted by the daily demands of his high-stress job. One day, he dug up an old beer recipe that his great-great-grandfather had written down in 1870. He brewed up a batch in his kitchen, and immediately quit his job to begin bottling and selling his creation. He called that beer Sam Adams, and Koch’s little self-made company now rakes in revenues of over $700 million per year.

LunaseeStudios /

LunaseeStudios /

Ken Jeong

Many people know Ken Jeong from his first major Hollywood role as the kooky doctor from Knocked Up. What people don’t realize is that his first career was actually as a real medical doctor — he went to med school and was doing his residency when he started doing gigs at comedy clubs.

He practiced for a few years before his wife encouraged him to go to more auditions, and he landed a small part that enabled him to get his name out there. Now, he’s writing a sitcom about his pre-Hollywood life as a doctor that was just picked up by ABC.

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