7 Influential People Who Failed Before They Succeeded

7 Influential People Who Failed Before They Succeeded

Setbacks are going to happen. It can be challenging to stick with your commitment to career success and move forward when you feel like doors keep closing.

Here’s some mid-week inspiration for you as a reminder that failure is just the first step towards success with a list of people who come from all walks of life, but they shared one characteristic in common — the commitment to their own career success.

J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling had just gotten a divorce, was on government aid and could barely afford to feed her baby in 1994, just three years before the first Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone,” was published. When she was shopping it out, she was so poor she couldn’t afford a computer or even the cost of photocopying the 90,000-word novel, so she manually typed out each version to send to publishers. It was rejected dozens of times until finally, Bloomsbury, a small London publisher gave it a second chance after the CEO’s 8-year-old daughter fell in love with it.

Colonel Sanders

Colonel Harland Sanders was fired from a variety of jobs throughout his career before he first started cooking chicken in his roadside Shell Service Station in 1930, when he was 40-years-old, during the Great Depression. His gas station didn’t actually have a restaurant, so he served diners in his attached personal living quarters.

Over the next 10 years, he perfected his “Secret Recipe” and pressure fryer cooking method for his famous fried chicken and moved onto bigger locations. Sleeping in his car, he set out to find a restaurant that would franchise his secret recipe—he wanted a nickel for each piece of chicken sold. He was rejected more than a thousand times before finally finding his first partner.

Stephen King

Living in a trailer with his wife—also a writer—they both worked multiple jobs to support their family while pursuing their craft. King received so many rejection letters for his works that he developed a system for collecting them; in his book, “On Writing,” he recalls, “By the time I was 14…the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and kept on writing.”

He received 60 rejections before selling his first short story, “The Glass Floor,” for $35.

Bill Gates

Gates didn’t seem like a shoe-in for success after dropping out of Harvard and starting a failed first business with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen called Traf-O-Data. While this early idea didn’t work, Gates’ later work did, creating the global empire that is Microsoft.

Henry Ford

While Ford is today known for his innovative assembly line and American-made cars, he wasn’t an instant success. In fact, his early businesses failed and left him broke five times before he founded the successful Ford Motor Company.

Tyler Perry

Perry had a rough childhood. He was physically and sexually abused growing up, kicked out of high school and tried to commit suicide, twice. In 1992, he wrote, produced, and starred in his first theater production, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” somewhat informed by his difficult upbringing. Perry put all his savings into the show and it failed miserably; the run lasted just one weekend and only 30 people came to watch. He kept up with the production, working more odd jobs and often slept in his car to get by. Six years later Perry finally broke through when, on its seventh run, the show became a success. Perry was named Forbes’ highest paid man in entertainment in 2011.

Arianna Huffington

Huffington’s second book was rejected by 36 publishers. And when she ran for governor of California in 2003, she received just 0.55 percent of the vote. But failure, Huffington has said, is often the key to success. She told CNN this past March, “You can recognize very often that these projects that may not have succeeded themselves that other successes are built.” She is now the author of 13 books as well as President and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group.