Photo Credit: Alexander Dummer on Unsplash

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1949, Jim Koch had no idea he’d go on to build one of the most successful brewing companies in the world, accounting for more than one percent of all beer production in the United States.

In fact, before he was a wildly successful entrepreneur, he was a student at Harvard University working to obtain his masters in Business Administration.

Later, while working as a consultant at The Boston Consulting Group, Koch decided to quit his job to make beer. And even though his dad was a brewer, he did not approve.

It was, “about the dumbest f––ing idea he’d ever heard,” according to Koch.

So, in 1984, at the age of 35 and having dug up his great-great-grandfather’s old beer recipe– Sam Adams and the Boston Beer company were born.


Photo Credit: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A billionaire’s lessons from childhood

As Koch told CNBC Make It, his dad did give him two incredible gifts which served him well, lessons which he believes are two of the most important things you can teach a child: a love of education and learning, and a work ethic.

When I think about, what did I get from my parents that I really valued– it was a love of education and learning, and a work ethic.

If you can give those two things to a kid, you’ve given them something priceless.

Koch now has four children of his own, two from a previous marriage which grew up with him before he made it big, and two whom grew up after Boston Beer had taken off. In speaking of his first two kids:

They were in their teens and their bedroom was not big enough for two beds. It was only big enough for a bunk bed and a dresser and that was it.

Later, his youngest daughter was scooping ice cream at her job when a coworker told her about a newspaper article announcing Koch’s official rise to billionaire status.

“She was scooping ice cream for $7 an hour,” Koch said. “One of the other girls asked her: ‘Oh my gosh, I read in the newspaper that your dad’s a billionaire. Why are you scooping ice cream for $7 an hour?’ And she just looked at the girl and said, ‘Because I need the money!’”

Koch, who believes in leading by example, says he’s very proud of his kids:

They saw me working really hard and enjoying it. So they learned from that that work can be fulfilling and good and it’s not something that you have to view as negative. You can get a great deal of satisfaction out of working hard.