Famous Failures: No Such Thing As An Overnight Success

Famous Failures: No Such Thing As An Overnight Success

24 August 2017

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Within the recruitment industry, there can be many highs and lows. The success of landing a new client can be quickly over-ridden by a candidate missing out on the ideal role. Failure is as much a part of success as achieving.

This got me thinking – I have read so often about celebrities and entrepreneurs who have met with failure several times throughout their career before eventually becoming a success. Even Coco-Cola only sold thirty bottles of their ubiquitous drink in their first year - not every ‘overnight success’ story is exactly that.

Success, in any career, can take decades of dedication and unwavering passion. Here are just some of the ‘famous failures’ I have read about.

Steve Jobs

The man responsible for the birth of the modern smartphone was actually fired by Apple after a falling out with the Board of Directors. In the meantime, he went on to found Pixar Animations Studios and NeXt before being re-hired as the CEO of Apple in 1997.

J.K. Rowling

Rowling was famously a single parent, writing up her Harry Potter series in Edinburgh coffee shops whilst she struggled to survive on benefits. Why? She was fired from her secretarial role at Amnesty International for using her work computer to write stories about a teenage wizard …

Oprah Winfrey

Queen of daytime television, philanthropist and film star, Oprah has done it all. But, when she was starting out in her career as an evening news reporter for Baltimore’s WJZ-TV, she was told that she was “unfit for television”. She now has her own television channel.

Walt Disney

The father of modern animation has thrilled generations since Steamboat Willie aired in 1928. But, despite his clear ambition and creativity, a young Walt was once fired from his position as a cartoonist for the Kansas City Star newspaper. because he “lacked imagination”.


Now referred to as the King of Rock’n’Roll, one music manager once told Elvis – after watching his performance at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry – that he would be better off as a truck driver. Luckily for the music industry, Presley was undeterred by this criticism.

Thomas Edison

The inventor held over 1,000 patents in his lifetime – for the electric lightbulb, the telegraph and an early picture camera – but still managed to get himself fired in 1867 when he accidentally spilled acid all over the floor of his office at the Western Union. He had been conducting experiments in secret and when the acid destroyed everything, he was let go.

Anna Wintour

The bob-haired ice queen of the fashion world is best known as the editor of US Vogue. Earlier in her career, however, Wintour was fired from her position as a junior fashion editor because her manager believed her edgy photo shoot ideas to be too much.

So, it doesn’t matter how many times you get a knock back or experience a personal failure, success may not be beyond reach.

If you’d like to speak to our teams about taking the next step in your career, click here to get in touch. 



Written By Mary Palmer


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