Douglas Fodor lost his mother to cancer in just nine months, right before he graduated from college. Before her passing, she left him this wisdom: “No matter what life gave you, you have to do your best,” recalls Fodor.

The 48-year-old first learned the disciplines of hard work from his mom, who raised him in New York. She worked as a seamstress and sent him to Xavier High School in Manhattan, where he credits the Jesuits who run the school for teaching him the values of a strong work ethic: “Dedication, dealing with adversity, learning from failure and how to overcome it — those were definitely building blocks for me.”

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