Richard Branson: Today, Richard Branson is a billionaire mogul of Virgin, and rents his private island out for $53,000 a night. Yet, he has had his share of disappointments. Both Virgin Cola or Virgin credit cards were two of his least popular concepts, and he’s lost hundreds of millions of dollars over the years. However, he has not let failure stop him.
Mark Cuban: The billionaire owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks profited tremendously when he sold his company to Yahoo for $5.9 billion in stock. He admitted he was terrible at his early jobs. After his parents’ request for him to have a “normal” job, he attempted to find one that he was proficient at. He tried carpentry, but hated it. He was a short order cook, but a terrible one. He waited tables, but couldn’t open a bottle of wine. He says of his failures,
“I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how many times you failed,” Cuban says. “You only have to be right once. I tried to sell powdered milk. I was an idiot lots of times, and I learned from them all.”
Walt Disney: Walt Disney experienced numerous failures when he first began his career. A newspaper editor fired him because, “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” After that, Disney started a number of businesses that didn’t last long, ending in bankruptcy and failure. Today, the Disney Corporation’s annual profits soar into the billions from merchandise, movies and theme parks around the world.
Henry Ford: Mr. Ford’s early businesses failed and left him completely broke five times before he overcame his adversity and founded the Ford Motor Company. Today Ford is well-known for his innovative assembly line, American-made cars, and billions of dollars in earnings – but success didn’t come to him easily or early.
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.
Soichiro Honda: Before building the famous multi-billion-dollar auto business, Mr. Honda experienced a series of failures. He was actually turned down by Toyota Motor Corporation for a job after interviewing for a job as an engineer, leaving him unemployed for quite some time. He started making scooters of his own at home, and encouraged by his friends and neighbors, finally started his own business. The rest, as they say, is history.
Jan Koum: Jan Koum left the Ukraine in 1992 at the age of 5 with his mother and grandmother, taking advantage of the relaxed emigration policy for Jews. She brought him to Silicon Valley. His father Boris stayed behind and planned to join the family later. They rarely talked on the phone for fear that the lines were being tapped. So they didn’t communicate much. The family relied on food stamps during their first few years in the USA.
5 years later, his father died in the Ukraine without ever making it to the USA. Then 3 years later Jan’s mother died of cancer. The deaths heightened his interest in keeping in touch with extended family and friends, spread out in the Ukraine, Israel and Russia. He became fascinated by computer programming. He attended San Jose State University and took a part-time job at Yahoo where he met Brian Acton. After they graduated, they sought jobs at Facebook, Twitter and other companies – and were rejected. They were out of work, unemployed. Jan was an orphan without any income or savings. He would frequently walk past the office in Silicon Valley where he would wait in line for food stamps when he was a child.
Jan loved the global messaging idea – but he didn’t like the advertising. So in 2009 they worked together on a global messaging software app that would be ad-free and simple to use. The App gained popularity, as hundreds of millions of people were using it and some even paying $0.99 for it for a year! That little piece of software is called WhatsApp.
Then, in February of 2014, just 5 years since they started, and with only 55 employees, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook agreed to purchase WhatsApp for $19 Billion. This was the largest acquisition of a startup in history.The company had all of $20 million in total revenue. Jan Koum was invited to join the board of Facebook. Jan Koum and Brian Acton are symbols of overcoming adversity and turning setbacks into comebacks.
R. H. Macy: Most people in the world are familiar with this large department store chain, but very few are aware that before R.H. Macy ‘made it’; he had started no fewer than seven businesses that failed miserably.
Akio Morita: You may not have heard of Morita but you’ve undoubtedly heard of his company, Sony. Sony’s first product was a rice cooker that unfortunately didn’t cook rice so much as burn it, selling less than 100 units. This first setback didn’t stop Morita and his partners as they pushed forward to create a multi-billion dollar company.
Harland David Sanders: Perhaps better known as Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, Sanders had a hard time selling his chicken at first. In fact, his famous secret chicken recipe was rejected 1,009 times before a restaurant accepted it.
F. W. Woolworth: Woolworth built one of the biggest names in department stores in the U.S. amassing a fortune in wealth. However, before starting his own business, young Woolworth worked at a dry goods store and was not allowed to wait on customers because his boss said he lacked the sense needed to do so.