10 Famous People who were Tagged Failures Before They Became Successful

10 Famous People who were Tagged Failures Before They Became Successful

History is replete with several examples of famous people who encountered significant failures before they attained success. These folks went through unfavorable circumstances that would typically discourage many from pushing for their dreams. However, they all persevered and came out on top.

Today their lives inspire many and they are celebrated around the world.

Here are 10 famous people who started out as failures but overcame adversity:

Stephen King

It is hard to believe that the man who would captivate the world with his horror fiction had his first novel “Carrie” rejected 30 times.

Like anyone would, King was discouraged after the series of rejections from book publishers and dumped the novel in a trash can. But for the intervention his wife, we probably won’t know Stephen King today. She retrieved the book from the can and persuaded him to submit for the 31st time.

This led to his big break and his successful career which will see the sales of over 300 million copies of his books.

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Michael Jordan 


Throughout his career, Michael Jordan has always preached the importance of learning from one’s failure and he has lived according to what he preaches. In his words:

“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.”

Although Michael Jordan has performed amazing feats in his career and is arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, he was once removed from his high school team for being “too short”.

Jack Ma

If there is one great example of a success story, it is Jack Ma. Prior to his success as an e-commerce tycoon, he failed multiple times in many of his endeavours.

He failed his university entrance exams three times, applied to Harvard ten times but was rejected each time and applied for 30 different jobs which all rejected him. On top of that, Jack Ma was the only applicant out of 24 people to be rejected by KFC.

Despite these failures and more, Jack Ma pulled through, ventured into the world of e-commerce, and the rest is history.

Oprah Winfrey 

Oprah has earned the title of “Queen of All Media” and is one of the most influential women in the world. Life, however, was not always rosy for the media mogul.

After landing her first TV job as an anchor, Oprah was fired by the producer for being too “unfit for television”. Like most determine folks, she went on to launch her TV show, The Oprah Winfrey Show which would rise to become the one of the highest-rated shows in history.

JK Rowling 

JK Rowling started out as a divorced, impoverished, and depressed single mom who wrote when she was less busy. After managing to finish the manuscript for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, she submitted it to 12 publishing houses who all rejected her book.

A year later, a publisher agreed to publish the book because his daughter had read it and fallen in love with it. This would lead to more deals and the rise of the “Harry Potter” brand. Today, she is one of the richest women in the world.

Walt Disney

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The man who would revolutionalise entertainment and pioneer a new age of animated films was once told by his newspaper editor  that “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Unfazed, Walt continued in his creative endeavours and would turn out to be the most successful animator of all time.

Albert Einstein

As a child, Albert Einstein had speech difficulties and was thought to be mentally handicapped. His life wasn’t any easier as a teenager. He had problems with his teachers and eventually failed his entrance exam into the prestigious Zurich Polytechnic (although he was outstanding in Physics and Maths).

Determined, Einstein intensified his efforts and passed the entrance exam into the Zurich Federal Polytechnic School.

He went on to win a Nobel Prize and is still recognized for how much he contributed to Physics.

Robert Downey Jr. 

10 Famous People who were Tagged Failures Before They Became Successful

Known for his sensational role as Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. is perhaps the biggest success story in entertainment today.

Initially, Robert started on a good note in his career, winning the hearts of many with his exceptional performances in his early movies and landing big roles. His career hit a breaking point when he got into drug use and was in and out of prison. By the time he got back into acting, many had written him off.

Nevertheless, he ventured into mainstream acting once again and began to gain more recognition until his role in ‘Iron Man’ which gave him phenomenal success. Today, he is not only one of the successful actors in Hollywood but has left his legacy as ‘Ironman’ – Robert is Iron Man and Iron Man is Robert.

Jim Carrey

For such a hilarious fellow, Jim Carrey didn’t start out in life on a happy note. He grew up in poverty and once worked as a janitor in order to support his family.

During his first stand-up performance, he was booed off the stage.He auditioned many times for Saturday Night Live but was rejected each time.

Eventually, Jim Carrey achieved phenomenal success in Hollywood and brought us some of the most hilarious comedy movies of all time.


Colonel Harland Sanders

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is one of the most popular fast food chains in the world but this wouldn’t have been possible but for a 65 year old man’s firm resolve to never give up.

After accomplishing little for the most of his life, Col. Harland Sanders eventually discovered his ”Secret” chicken Recipe at the age of 50. He was starting to gain success until World War II which led him to sell one of his restaurants. A second crash of one of his restaurants led to his bankruptcy.

At the age of 65, with just $105 to his name, Col. Sanders founded Kentucky Fried Chicken. He allegedly sold his idea to about 1009 restaurants before one accepted his offer.


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