Five World-Renowned People Who Started Their Careers with Failures


If you fail at something, it’s only natural that you feel like your failures are permanent and more significant than everyone else around you. If you don’t meet specific job qualifications, didn’t get good grades, didn’t attend the top college or universities like your friends and family; you’re going to start asking “why me?”

The truth is, failure is not a permanent concept. Regardless of if you’re at the lowest point in your life right now, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have unique talents and the potential to be something great. Here are five examples of incredibly successful individuals who overcame failure, and look where they are now.

Steven Spielberg

This might surprise you since Steven Spielberg has directed such hits as Saving Private Ryan, Jurassic Park, Jaws, and many more, but he was rejected from a school. The University of Southern California’s School of Cinema Arts turned down his admission twice. Instead of holding a grudge against the school, once he gained his success, he supported the institute. He donated money, buildings, and even received an honorary degree in ’94.

Evan Spiegel

As one of the world’s youngest billionaires, Evan Spiegel is the co-founder of the highly popular Snapchat app. However, when he was a Stanford undergraduate, his life seemed dull compared to other students. He mentioned that his girlfriend had dumped him, his mom was the only user of his first company, and his fraternity chapter was kicked off campus. Spiegel has proven that persistence is one of the primary keys to success. He never gave up.

Anna Wintour

Anna Wintour is one of the most successful women in the world and a female leader in publications. After working as a fashion editor with Harper’s Bazaar, she was fired for lack of American market knowledge. Wintour moved to work at Viva, though the publication fell under after just a couple of years. Now, after working at other smaller publications, Anna is the editor-in-chief at Vogue; the most prestigious beauty and fashion magazine on the market. She has publically stated that getting fired from Harper’s Bazaar was the best thing that happened to her. She believes that some failures are indeed blessings in disguise.

Conan O’Brien

When Conan O’Brien was awarded the position of hosting NBC’s The Tonight Show, he did an excellent job for a few months before NBC ripped it out from under him. They gave the hosting position back to Jay Leno. O’Brien admitted that he broke down when he had to deliver the news to staff, friends, and family, and didn’t know what he was going to do.

After going through a very dark period that included depression, he pulled himself out of the hole with the help of those who supported him and put together a national comedy tour that enabled him to make people laugh every night. The tour was an extreme success and caused O’Brien to land the hosting role of Conan on the popular TBS network.

Craig Newmark

Craig Newmark is the founder of Craigslist, but was once employed at IBM. He admits that he experienced a career-ruining moment when he lost his temper in front of customers and received reports that he wasn’t a good manager or customer service representative. After taking several steps down the chain of command, Newmark recognized his weaknesses, learned from his mistakes, and created the Craigslist platform which became a massive success.

Regardless of your “failure story,” you can overcome anything with a little perseverance, determination, and belief in yourself. Hard work always pays off in the end, and even if it takes you years to get to where you want to be in your career, it’s going to be worth it. You can ask any of our successful examples if they believe that changing their failure paths is worth it, and they are going to tell you no. Sometimes you need to close your eyes to one opportunity to see another.


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Five World-Renowned People Who Started Their Careers with Failures

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