11 Famous Failures That Led To Success (And The Lessons They Teach) (2023)

11 Famous Failures That Led To Success (And The Lessons They Teach) (1)

Have you ever noticed how much we focus on winners? Most of the time and attention goes to people who have already been successful - entertainers now filling the stadiums or walking the red carpet, influential politicians, famous CEOs. But that's just the end of the story. So much more can be learned from the mistakes that got them there. Failure offers some of life's most lasting lessons.

One part of our culture where failure is not only accepted but even viewed positively is in the business world, among entrepreneurs. For entrepreneurs, failure is worn like a badge of courage. It often leads them to better insights and solutions and, with a healthy dose of persistence, ultimately to success. This helps explain why the United States continues to lead the world in innovation.

Here are 11 examples of initial failures -- and lessons learned from them -- from entrepreneurs and others who have ultimately found great success in their fields.

1. Fran Tarkenton

Tarkenton is an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback, television personality, and businessman. But his transition to entrepreneurship came with a costly lesson. "When I was 27, a lawyer friend of mine told me he could help me start a business and he could run it, but I should use my money," says Tarkenton. Later, after spending $250,000, he opened Scrambler's Village restaurant in Atlanta, but it never caught on. The lawyer wasted some of his time; Tarkenton lost all the money. But he pulled himself together, learned from the experience, and founded a successful computer software company.

Lesson:Be wary of shortcuts and do your homework before making any big decisions.

(Video) Famous Failures

2. Barbara Corcoran

Corcoran, one of TV's "Shark Tank" sharks, is one of 10 children who all became business owners. In her bookshark storiesshe describes her mistakes without apology. She worked 23 jobs — and got fired from three — before finally finding success in New York City real estate. Ms. Corcoran is an example of how to meet and overcome failure and use it to drive future success. But she also shows how it can help build self-confidence and self-actualization.

Lesson:Accept mistakes as a gift that will help you do better next time.

3. Harrison Ford

The actor struggled for nine years, getting only small uncredited film roles while working part-time as a carpenter to support his wife and two sons. He was hired to build closets in the home of director George Lucas, who recognized his talent and cast him in a supporting role in the film American Grafitti. Shortly thereafter, Ford was hired by Lucas to read lines for actors auditioning for Star Wars. Lucas was so impressed with Ford's character portrayals during the readings that he offered Carpenter the role of Han Solo. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Lesson:Get your message out there. Find as many ways as possible to open doors.

4. J.K. Rowling

Rowling, a struggling writer, nurtured her vision of becoming an author during a seven-year period that included the death of her mother, divorcing her first husband, and raising her children in poverty. After her manuscript was repeatedly rejected by major publishers - 12 times, to be precise - a small London publisher decided not to publish it until after the CEO's 8-year-old daughter begged her father to print the book. RowlingsHarry PotterBooks have now sold more than 400 million copies. The franchise is notable for having both the best-selling book series in history and the highest-grossing film series in history.

Lesson:follow your passion

(Video) 11 Failures Led to Success / Lessons that Famous People get

5. Die Beatles

After two years of tireless practice and tireless performance, often for 10 or more hours a day, the Beatles finally landed their first audition for a record deal with Decca Records. Decca rejected them without hesitation, stating that "guitar groups are on the way out".

Lesson:Nobody wants to be the first to like a new idea (or a new sound) - but everyone wants to be second.

6. Reed Hastings

The shock of a $40 late fee in 1997 on a VHS tape fromApollo 13spurred Reed Hastings to explore the idea of ​​setting up a film distribution business by mail. So he started a company called Netflix. Its original "pay per rental" business model was similar to Blockbuster's and wasn't very popular. So he listened to customer feedback and relaunched the business as a subscription service in 1999. Netflix has almost single-handedly taken Blockbuster out of business, and Hastings continues to adapt its business model to meet changing technology and consumer needs. Netflix now has over 40 million streaming customers and an Oscar-nominated original production, The Square.

Lesson:Listen to those who have something constructive to say, and be open to pivoting based on their feedback.

7. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah, of course, hosted one of the highest-ranking television shows in history and is the richest self-made woman and the only black billionaire. However, she was fired from her first television job as a presenter in Baltimore. According to CNN, Oprah's first boss told her she was too emotional and wasn't the right person for TV.

Lesson:Avoid the naysayers. Recognize how you differentiate between people with a “can” and a “can't” attitude.

(Video) 15 FAMOUS FAILURES Before Success

8. Tom Corley

According to his bookrich habitswas published, Corley spent 18 months drumming up advertisements from 1,000 newspaper and magazine book editors (none of whom had reviewed the book) and dozens of school, library, civic and business groups, all to no avail. However, throughout the process he learned who the key few media players were and then focused on getting their attention. The strategy worked. A series of four interviews - with Yahoo! Finance, Dave Ramsey, MSN Personal Finance, and CBS TV — almost immediately catapulted the book to the #1 bestseller position on Amazon.

Lesson:Focus. Identify the one or two activities that will produce the greatest outcome.

9. Dr. Seuss

Theodor Seuss Geisel submitted his first book,And to think I saw it on Mulberry Street, to 27 different publishers. Everyone refused. According to Geisel, on his way home to burn the manuscript, he chanced upon an old Dartmouth classmate who helped him find a publisher for the book. dr Seuss later became a legendary children's author of classics such asThe cat in the hatAndGreen eggs and ham. His books have sold over 600 million copies.

Lesson:You can't always do it alone. Use your network and seek the help of good partners.

(Video) More Failures = More Success

10. James Dyson

The British inventor, industrial designer and founder of Dyson is best known for inventing the bagless Dual Cyclone vacuum cleaner. What is less well known is that when developing his vacuum, he went through 5,126 failed prototypes before he got it right. In the process, he used up his savings. He's now worth an estimated $4.5 billion, according to Forbes.

Lesson:Persistence, persistence, persistence!

11. „Oberst“ Harland David Sanders

Harland Sanders held many jobs for decades, including firefighter, insurance salesman, and gas station owner, before trying to sell fried chicken at a street restaurant in Kentucky. Just as his local restaurant was gaining momentum, the construction of a nearby freeway put him out of business. He then pitched his chicken recipe to investors over 1,000 times before finding a buyer at the age of 68 and beginning to franchise the company. Seven years later, he sold the Fried Chicken Company for $15 million.

Lesson:It's never too late to start.

What would you consider your most valuable lesson? Please share in the comments!

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