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ASHTON KUTCHER

It’s not common to see leading actors with a business talent and vision for future trends. However, Ashton Kutcher is one of them, as seen from his successful investments in technology startups, including Skype, Spotify, Airbnb, Pinterest, and Uber. At 44, he is already the owner of A-Grade Investments, an investment firm he founded with his friend, and Sound Ventures, which has invested in more than 200 early-stage tech companies to date.

The actor is clearly gifted, with a reported IQ of 160, a talent for developing businesses, and a beautiful wife, Mila Kunis, and two children. His name often suggests an acentric image, but also someone with the ‘Midas Touch.’

But in August, Kutcher said he felt happy for simply being alive after having survived vasculitis, a rare autoimmune disease, which left him unable to see, hear or walk for almost a year.

During filming of National Geographic’s Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge, the actor said he was “lucky to be alive.” “Like, two years ago, I had this weird, super rare form of vasculitis, that, like, knocked out my vision; it knocked out my hearing; it knocked out, like, all my equilibrium,” he said. “It took me, like, a year to build it all back up.”

Vasculitis is the inflammation of blood vessels, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders. The inflammation damages the lining of affected blood vessels, causing narrowing or blood-clotting. This causes pain, tissue damage and malfunction of affected organs.

Like the lyrics from Joni Mitchell’s song: ‘You never know what you’ve got till it’s gone,’ Kutcher admitted he had hardly paid any attention to those normal abilities, always taking them for granted. It is understandable because, unless you were born physically disabled, you don’t usually really think about them.

“You don’t really appreciate it until it’s gone,” he continued. “Until you go, I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to see again; I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to hear again; I don’t know if I’m going to be able to walk again.”

It’s not unusual to read news about celebrities suffering sickness. However, most of those illnesses leave the senses intact, enabling the celebrities to remain connected to the world. Those who have visited the German exhibition called ‘Dialogue in the Dark’, organized by Dialogue Social Enterprise, will recall it uses blind guides to escort visitors to learn about things and the environment in absolute darkness.

Although the entrepreneur wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he did not lack in the department of luck, and quite enjoyed taking risks. At high school, he was convicted of third-degree burglary and sentenced to three years on probation and 180 hours of community service, resulting in the breakup with his girlfriend and lost college scholarships.

In 1996, he enrolled at the University of Iowa, where he planned to study biochemical engineering, because he wanted to find a cure for his twin brother’s heart disease. However, he spent most of the time binge drinking at parties and doing part-time jobs, and was evicted from his apartment for being “too noisy” and “wild.” Things started to pick up when a scout spotted him and asked if he would like to try modelling. Shortly after, Kutcher quit university and moved to California to pursue an acting career.

“I thought I knew everything, but I didn’t have a clue. I played way too hard; I’m amazed I am not dead,” he told Cosmopolitan magazine in 2001. At that time, his acting career started to take off following his starring role in the famous “That ‘70s Show”.

As an actor known for playing goofy roles, Kutcher’s new role as a venture capitalist took the public by surprise. But a string of successes proved his sharp insight. His penchant for technology and the futuristic world was evident when he booked a $US200,000 ticket to board the first-ever Virgin Galactic flight to space ten years ago. However, his wife later forced him to sell the ticket over concerns over his safety now that he was a father with young children.

Perhaps, it was a wise decision. When the spaceship took off in July 2021, it was around the time he was struggling with his disease and in the process of recovery.

Suddenly, even the sight and sound of your bedroom ceiling when you open your eyes, and the sleepy walk downstairs to the greetings of your loved ones were priceless. Looks, wealth, fame no longer matter when you realize how blessed you are to be able to live a normal, seemingly mundane life. For Kutcher, the scary ordeal was an opportunity for growth.

“The minute you start seeing your obstacles as things that are made for you, to give you what you need, then life starts to get fun, right? You start surfing on top of your problems instead of living underneath them,” he said.

“I’m lucky to be alive.”