Famous Failures Who Became Successful
J.K Rowling, the author of Harry Potter, spoke to the graduating class of Harvard in June 2008. She didn’t talk about success. She talked about failures. Her own in particular. I absolutely love her quote.
“You might never fail on the scale I did,” Rowling told that privileged audience. “But it is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.
She should know. The author didn’t magically become richer than the Queen of England overnight. Penniless, recently divorced, and raising a child on her own, she wrote the first Harry Potter book on an old manual typewriter.
Twelve publishers rejected the manuscript! A year later she was given the green light by Barry Cunningham from Bloomsbury, who agreed to publish the book but insisted she gets a day job cause there was no money in children’s books.
What if she stopped at the first rejection? The fifth? Or the tenth?
The measure of success can be shown by how many times someone keeps going despite hearing only no. The following people are not the only ones who have succeeded despite failure and rejection.
Theodor Seuss Geisel gave us Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham. Books every child reads. At first, many didn’t think he would succeed. 27 different publishers rejected Dr. Seuss’s first book To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.
The founder of KFC. He started his dream at 65 years old! He got a social security check for only $105 and was mad. Instead of complaining, he did something about it.
“I’ve only had two rules. Do all you can and do it the best you can.” The Colonel was undeniably a real-life example of how passion, hard work, and a commitment to quality can lead to success.” – Colonel Sanders
He thought restaurant owners would love his fried chicken recipe, use it, sales would increase, and he’d get a percentage of it. He drove around the country knocking on doors, sleeping in his car, and wearing his white suit.
Do you know how many times people said no till he got one yes? 1009 times!
The man who gave us Disney World and Mickey Mouse. His first animation company went bankrupt. He was fired by a news editor cause he lacked imagination. Legend has it he was turned down 302 times before he got financing for creating Disney World.
“People often ask me if I know the secret of success and if I could tell others how to make their dreams come true. My answer is, you do it by working.” – Walt Disney
He didn’t speak till he was four and didn’t read till seven. His parents and teachers thought he was mentally handicapped. He only turned out to win a Nobel prize and be the face of modern physics.
“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein
He’s a billionaire mogul of Virgin but has had his share of failures. Remember Virgin Cola or Virgin credit cards? Probably not. He’s lost hundreds of millions of dollars but has not let failure stop him. When you’re rich like him you can rent his private island for $53,000 a night.
“To be successful, you have to be out there. You have to hit the ground running and if you have a good team around you and more than a fair share of luck, you might make something happen. But you certainly can’t guarantee it just by following someone else’s formula.” – Richard Branson
Growing up in Pittsburgh, Mark Cuban’s parents wanted him to learn a trade so he’d have something to fall back on. So the guy — who is now worth $2.5 billion — got a job working for a carpenter laying carpet and quickly learned he was absolutely horrible at it. He was so terrible at his next endeavor as a short-order cook that he couldn’t tell if the food was done right unless he tried it, so he always cut off tiny pieces to sample.
And then there was the time that he was a waiter in a nice restaurant and could never open the wine bottles without getting a cork in the wine. “It was just horrible,” he says. “I was like, ‘Why aren’t you scheduling me more hours?’ [They said], ‘You can’t do this worth a damn, Mark.’” But through all of these early experiences, he learned that it’s OK to not be good at everything. He says of his failures,
“I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how many times you failed,” Cuban says. “You only have to be right once. I tried to sell powdered milk. I was an idiot lots of times, and I learned from them all.”
He applied lessons learned from his failures as he started Broadcast.com, an audio and video portal, which he later sold to Yahoo for $5.7 billion in stock. His failures also helped him succeed when he bought and turned around the Dallas Mavericks NBA franchise and co-founded HDNet, an all-high-definition television network. And these are just a few of the successful ventures that have landed him at No. 144 on the Forbes 400 Richest Americans and No. 400 on the World Billionaires lists as well as a guest venture capitalist “shark” on ABC’s “Shark Tank” reality TV show.
“I don’t care if you’re working a counter at McDonald’s or as a bartender like I did or as a doorman like I did when it fails, whatever it may be, you’re going to learn,” he says. “You’ve got to take that positive orientation to it and develop your skills.”
Cuban has refined many skills over the years as he’s built his businesses, and he’s learned a lot. But in particular, he’s learned how to look at opportunities, how to know himself, and how to be ruthlessly focused.
Vincent Van Gogh
He only sold one painting in his lifetime! Just one to a friend. Despite that, he kept painting and finished over 800 pieces. Now everyone wants to buy them and his most expensive painting is valued at $142.7 million.
“Success is sometimes the outcome of a whole string of failures.” – Vincent Van Gogh
The American author first was a lawyer who loved to write. His first book A Time to Kill took three years to write. The book was rejected 28 times until he got one yes for a 5,000-copy print. He’s sold over 250 million total copies of his books.
“Some people have more guts than brains.” -John Grisham
He applied and was denied two times to the prestigious University of Southern California film school. Instead, he went to Cal State University in Long Beach.
“Whether in success or in failure, I’m proud of every single movie I’ve directed. ” – Steven Spielberg
He went on to direct some of the biggest movie blockbusters in history. Now he’s worth $2.7 billion and in 1994 got an honorary degree from the film school that rejected him twice.
His first book Carrie was rejected 30 times and he threw it in the trash. His wife retrieved it out of the trash and encouraged him to resubmit it. The rest is history. He has sold more than 350 million copies of his books. (He’s also made many adults fear clowns too.)
Get busy living or get busy dying. Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work. If being a kid is about learning how to live, then being a grown-up is about learning how to die.” – Stephen King
The author of the crazy Twilight series said the inspiration for the book came from a dream. She finished it in three months but never intended to publish it until a friend suggested she should.
“The author of the extremely successful Twilight series was rejected by 14 different publishers before the 15th picked up Twilight. What would all the tweens do if Bella and Edward hadn’t been brought to life?!” – Stephenie Meyer
She wrote 15 letters to literary agencies. Five didn’t reply. Nine rejected. One gave her a chance. Then eight publishers auctioned for the right to publish Twilight. She got a three-book deal worth $750,000. In 2010, Forbes reported she earned $40 million.
The man behind the 4-Hour Workweek, who changed how many people view work and life, was rejected by 26 publishers before one gave him a chance. It’s been on the bestseller’s list for years, sold all over the world, and last year published The 4 Hour Body which went to #1 on the New York Times bestsellers list.
“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” – Tim Ferris
They were rejected by many record labels. In a famous rejection, the label said, “guitar groups are on the way out” and “the Beatles have no future in show business”.
After that, the Beatles signed with EMI, brought Beatlemania to the United States, and became the greatest band in history.
He’s famous for being cut from his high school basketball team. He turned out to be the greatest basketball player but never let failure deter him. I love this quote…
“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
No list of successes from failures would be complete without the man who gave us many inventions including the light bulb. He knew failure wouldn’t stop him.
If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.
Failures who Became Successful in Texas
The Lone Star State of Texas is known for its rugged, independent spirit and its larger-than-life personalities. Through grit and determination, many Texans have achieved success despite the odds being stacked against them. From struggling entrepreneurs to former drug addicts, there are plenty of inspiring stories of Texans who have gone from failure to success.
Take the story of entrepreneur Lila Mae Frye, a single mother of three who was once homeless and unemployed but eventually became a successful businesswoman. After losing her job as an accountant, she took a leap of faith and started her own tax preparation agency in Houston. She quickly grew her business into one of the largest minority-owned tax services companies in Texas with more than 80 employees across seven locations. Frye’s story is proof that no matter your background or circumstance, hard work, and perseverance can pay off in the end.
Famous Failures that Led to Success
it is clear that failure is inevitable, but it does not have to lead to despair. Throughout history, there have been countless examples of people who, despite experiencing tremendous failure in their lives, eventually achieved incredible success. These stories remind us that, while facing our own failures can be daunting, it is possible to use them as a source of strength and motivation. It is only through determination and perseverance that we can hope to overcome our failures and achieve something greater.
Decide what is important to you and take huge steps every day even though it doesn’t seem like it’s working. Success doesn’t happen without failures. It’s reality.
Deal with it.
How badly do you want to achieve your goal? It better be so bad that rejection won’t derail you.
How much do you believe in what you’re doing? Colonel Sanders did despite 1009 rejections!
“Fall down seven times, get up eight.” – Japanese proverb
Let these examples inspire you every day.