66 Famous Failure of People Never Give Up

Posted by Genius tribes on 1:15 AM
Event : Ignite leadership training
An excerpt from our leadership training module


Whenever we attempt to do something and fail, we end up doing something else or producing something else. You have not failed; you have produced some other result. The two most important questions to ask are: “What have I learned?” and “What have I done?”

Failure is only a word that human beings use to judge a given situation. Instead of fearing failure, we should learn that failures, mistakes and errors are the way we learn and the way we grow. Many of the world’s greatest successes have learned how to fail their way to success. Some of the more famous are:

Whoopi Goldberg was a high school dropout and survived on welfare. To make ends meet, she worked as a bricklayer, bank teller and makeup artist, applying makeup & dressing the hair of corpses in a mortuary.

Fredrick Smith got a C for his term paper proposing “an express delivery service” when he was studying in Yale university. He started Federal Express Corp in 1971 but only managed to deliver 6 packages – 4 were from the operations testing its system and 2 from real customers – in its first run.

Simon Cowell was expelled at 16 with just two O-level passes. He eventually dropped out of high school and worked as a mailroom boy at his dad’s employer, EMI.

Charles Dickens once worked in a London factory pasting labels on bottles of shoe polish.

Brad Pitt dropped out of university, just 2 credits short of a journalism degree, went to Hollywood where he worked outside a fast food restaurant in a giant chicken costume.

Li Ka Shing, one of the world’s richest tycoons once sold plastic flowers for a living.

Akio Morita & Masaru Ibuka, founders of Sony first released a rice cooker through their company in 1945. This was how it looked like. Yes, a complete disaster. The cooker burnt rice instead of cooking it and sold less than 100 units.

George Orwell went to Paris, eager to make a living from freelance writing. He barely survived by teaching English, eventually pawning his possessions and working in a hotel as a janitor.

Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything” and he was also fired from his first 2 jobs for not being productive enough. Perhaps that’s why he failed 2,000 times before inventing the light bulb.

Tom Hanks dropped out of Sacramento State University and worked as a bellhop at a Hilton Hotel.

Michael Bloomberg was fired as a partner from Salomon Brothers in 1981 when it merged with another company. He took the merger proceeds to startup Bloomberg financial information network and became the New York mayor in 1991.

Colonel Sanders, founder of the world renowned Kentucky Fried Chicken chain got his first social security check of $99 at age 65. He had a small house, a worn out car and was pretty much broke. But that didn’t stop him from approaching restaurant owners, offering his popular chicken recipe free, in exchange for a percentage of the pieces of chicken sold. 1,009 restaurant owners rejected him before he got his first yes.

Eminem failed 9th grade 3 times and dropped out of high school at 17. When his girlfriend broke up with him and took their newborn away, he attempted suicide.

Soichiro Honda was turned down by Toyota Motor Corporation for a engineering job. He was jobless for a while and started making his own scooters at home. Encouraged by his neighbours, he later setup his own company – Honda Motor Corporation.

Salvador Dali was expelled from an art academy in Spain for not letting his professors critique his paintings.

Jackie Chan dropped out from grade school after the 1st year and was sent to the China Drama Academy where he trained for 19 hours a day. He used to be a stuntman in Bruce Lee’s movies.

Bill Gates was a Harvard dropout but was clever enough to buy someone’s product for $50,000, rebrand & licensed it to IBM & other computer companies for billions.

Albert Einstein started speaking when he was 4 and only learnt to read at 7. His teachers and parents thought he was intellectually challenged, slow witted and anti-social. He was also expelled from school and couldn’t get into the Swiss Polytechnic Institute in Zurich.

Oprah Winfrey was demoted from her job as an on-air evening news anchor and was told she wasn’t fit for television.

John Grisham‘s first novel was rejected by 16 agents and 12 publishing houses.

Dr Seuss’s first book was turned down by 27 publishers.

Arnold Schwarzenegger went for “The Incredible Hulk” TV series audition, but lost the lead role to Lou Ferrigno because he was “too short and too thin”.

Charles Darwin failed a medical course in University of Edinburgh and was often criticised by his dad for being lazy and too dreamy. He wrote “I was considered by all my masters and my father, a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard of intellect.”

Ralph Lauren dropped out of college after his sophomore year and worked as a part-time stock boy in a department store.

Isaac Newton was an average student. When he was put in charge of running his family’s farm, he let sheep escape and fences to fall down. In the end, his uncle took over and sent him off to Cambridge.

Vincent Van Gogh only sold 1 painting in his lifetime for just 400 francs. But that didn’t stop him from completing 800 works worth millions today.

Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union used to work in the fields of a Russian village.

Michael J Fox dropped out of high school and went to Hollywood to venture into TV acting. But instead, he was $30,000 in debt and had to live in a garage without a telephone & furniture.

Winston Churchill failed 6th grade and only passed the entrance exams to Royal Military Academy on his 3rd try. He was defeated in every election until he finally became UK’s Prime Minister at 62.

Amitabh Bachchan, an award winning Indian actor known for his rich voice was rejected for an announcer’s job with All India Radio because his voice was “unsuitable”.

Charlie Chaplin was a street urchin, danced for money and was sent to an orphange for destitute kids. Hollywood studio chiefs rejected his act, thinking that it was a little too nonsensical to ever sell.

Sidney Poitier was told to “stop wasting people’s time and go out and become a dishwasher or something” during an audition. He went on to win an Oscar and became one of the most respected actors ever.

Stephen King’s first book was rejected 30 times. He threw the manuscript away and almost gave up. His wife retrieved the script from the trash and encouraged him to resubmit.

Abraham Lincoln fiance died. He suffered a nervous breakdown. He also failed in business twice and was also defeated in 8 elections. But all that didn’t stop him from before becoming the 16th president of United States.

Tom Cruise was denied a role on the TV show “Fame” because he wasn’t “handsome enough”.

Steven Spielberg was rejected by the a famous film school 3 times. Years later, he was conferred a honorary doctorate and seat on the board of trustees of the same school for his achievements.

J.K Rowling divorced less than a year into her first marriage, moved with her baby to Edinburgh, Scotland. She survived on welfare in an apartment infested with mice and wrote in cafes to help her baby fall asleep. Oh yeah, her novel “Harry Potter” was rejected by 12 publishing houses.

Claude Monet suffered from nasty cateracts but still came up with beautiful paintings. Unfortunately, his impressionist painting style was mocked by the then artistic elite, the Paris Salon.

Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” He was also made bankrupt many times.

Mozart was dismissed as a court musician in Salzberg with “a kick in the pants”.

Charles Schultz, the cartoonist behind the Peanuts comic strip had every cartoon he submitted for his school yearbook rejected. Even Walt Disney said “no” to his application for a job.

Marilyn Monroe’s modeling agents thought she should consider being a secretary instead.

Rabindranath Tagore, the 1st non-european Nobel Laureate for literature, was home schooled. He was later sent to England for formal schooling at 17 but didn’t complete his studies.

Elvis Presley’s high school teacher gave him a C & told him he couldn’t sing! That’s not all. He was also told by the manager of the Grand Ole Opry that he “ain’t goin’ nowhere” and “ought to go back to drivin’ a truck” before being fired from one of his earliest performances.

Mark Victor Hansen & Jack Canfield’s Chicken Soup for The Soul was rejected a total of 140 times.

Harrison Ford was told by a vice president of Columbia pictures that he wouldn’t make it in the business. 15 years later while Ford was having lunch at a Columbia pictures’ commissary, he received a namecard from the same guy, with the words “I missed my bet” written on the reverse.

Elizabeth Arden dropped out of nursing school. Her first attempt to sell face cream was a flop too. But she held on, changed her name and founded a new beauty brand.

The Beatles were told by a recording company that they “don’t like their sound and guitar music is on the way out”.

Beethoven’s teachers thought he was hopeless on the violin and would never succeed in composing. But he went on to compose some of the best symphonies while being completely deaf.

Dustin Hoffman couldn’t get acting jobs in New York and ended up as a janitor and an attendant in a mental hospital.

Luciano Pavarotti couldn’t read music but still became one of the world’s greatest tenors.

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.

George Lucas’ first film in 1971 was a flop.

Henry Ford was bankrupt 5 times before he founded the Ford Motor Company.

Mahatma Gandhi fled the courtroom due to stage fright in his first law case.

Jerry Seinfeld was booed off the stage due to stage fright at a comedy club. He went back the next night, completed his set to laughter and thunderous applause.

Babe Ruth had 1,330 strikeouts – ironically a major league record – almost double of his home runs of 714.

Hillary Clinton failed the Washington D.C. bar exam. Undeterred, she took the Arkansas bar exam in the same year and passed.

Wilma Rudolph was paralyzed in 1 leg due to polio and told by doctors she would never walk again. She later won 3 olympic gold medals in track and fields.

Ulysses S. Grant used to be a farmer, real estate agent, customs official and store clerk. His last 2 occupations? A general and 18th president of United States.

Sylvester Stallone was expelled from 14 schools in 11 years. His university professors discouraged him from an acting career and his screenplay for “Rocky” was also rejected by all but one company who would only buy it on condition he would not act in it.

Martin Luther King was once ostracized by his family for not pursuing a merchant career.

Pierce Brosnan dropped out from school at 16, ran away from home to work as a fire eater in a circus.

Barbra Streisand’s first broadway performance was opened and closed on the same night.

Billy Joel, disillusioned by the failure of his first album, spent 6 months playing bar piano in a lounge under a different name.

Cynidi Lauper was told by doctors in 1977 she couldn’t sing again because of her badly damaged vocals. In 1984, she won a Grammy.


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