15 famous people who failed before they succeeded

“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.” Elbert Hubbard

Some of the most successful people in the world come from backgrounds of poverty, struggle, rejection and failure. Despite their challenges they never gave up and with a little grit, resilience, and persistence they embraced failure and continued to make their dreams come true.
I hope that this post can motivate others to accept failure as merely a chance to learn and to find the strength to never give up.


  1. Albert Einstein – Could not speak until he was 4 and couldn’t read until he was 7, both his parents and teachers thought he was mentally handicapped.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid” – Albert Einstein

  1. Walt Disney – Being fired from his job in Kansas City Star paper because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas” and then later experiencing bankruptcy after the fall of his business was not enough to stop Walt from achieving his dreams. In fact, it was his failures and difficult challenges that laid the foundation for his successful career.

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” Walt Disney

  1. Thomas Edison –10,000 failed attempts at creating the lightbulb was not enough to make Thomas Edison give up. Every failure was a learning process and his persistence is what has made him the greatest innovator of all time.

“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.” Thomas A. Edison

  1. Oprah – Had a rough and abusive childhood and was ironically fired from her job as a television reporter because she was “unfit for TV.”

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”-  Oprah Winfrey

  1. Vincent Van Gogh – Only sold 1 painting in his lifetime and considered himself a failure.

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” Vincent Van Gogh

  1. Steve Jobs – At 30 years old Steve Jobs was fired from his own company, Apple.

“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” Steve Jobs 

  1. Michael Jordan Was cut from his high school basketball team but used his failure to push him rather than defeat him.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan

  1. Steven Spielberg – Was rejected twice by the University of Southern California’s school of cinematic arts.

“You shouldn’t dream your film, you should make it!”  Steven Spielberg

  1. Henry Ford – His early businesses failed and left him broke five time before he founded the successful Ford Motor Company.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re probably right.” – Henry Ford

  1. J.K Rowling – Was a single mum living of welfare and struggling with depression. Her Harry Potter script was rejected by 12 major publishers and it wasn’t until a year later that a small publishing house finally accepted it…

“It is our choices… that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” J. K. Rowling

  1. Jay Z – Grew up in extreme poverty and couldn’t get one single record company to sign him. Instead of giving up Jay Z established his own record company called “Roc-a-fella Records” and continued to work tireless until he succeeded.

“Belief in oneself and knowing who you are, I mean, that’s the foundation for everything great.” Jay-Z

  1. Elvis Presley – Was fired after his first performance and was told by the manager “You ain’t going nowhere, son. You ought to go back to driving a truck.”

Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.” Elvis Presley

  1. Jim Carrey – In his early years at school, Carrey was very quiet and didn’t have many friends. He was an undiagnosed dyslexic, and often struggled in school. He used humour as a way to connect with people and despite dropping out of school to help support his family Jim is now known as once of the best comedic actors of all time.

“If you aren’t in the moment, you are either looking forward to uncertainty, or back to pain and regret.” Jim Carrey

  1. Jerry Seinfeld – The first time Seinfeld walked on stage at a comedy club he froze and was eventually booed off the stage.

“You have to motivate yourself with challenges. That’s how you know you’re still alive.” Jerry Seinfeld

  1. Sir Richard Branson – Dropped out of school at 16 and on his last day at school, his headmaster told him he would “either end up in prison or become a millionaire.”

 “There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions – in a way that serves the world and you.” – Richard Branson

Thanks for reading, I hope this post gave you the motivation to keep going and to never give up! Make sure you share your smile with the world today ☮