You come up with this great idea and actually work hard to turn it into a huge success. Everything seems to be going on just fine until, well, you fail terribly. You wallow in self-pity, wondering if you will ever find the strength to recover. Well, that’s the problem with failure. It punches you in the gut and leaves you high and dry.


But this isn’t the end- take heart because this certainly isn’t the end of the world. Some of the most successful people you see out there failed a thousand times but found a way to get back up and rebuild themselves and their businesses. Still not convinced? Well, read on about these 10 Famous people who got rejected before becoming insanely successful.


  1. Walt Disney

If Walt Disney had chosen to give up on after the numerous failures he encountered, then Disney World and the many children cartoon movies would never have seen the light of day. You see, Walt Disney was rejected by the Kansas City Star newspaper for what his editor termed as “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”

That’s not all. His Mickey Mouse cartoons were utterly rejected because they were considered as “too scary for women.” As if that wasn’t enough, “The Three Little Pigs” were also rejected because it had fewer characters than was deemed appropriate. Today, Walt Disney’s legacy stands because he chose to fight on, even after being rejected time and again.


  1. J.K. Rowling

“By every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.” Those are the words of J.K Rowling, the famous author of the Harry Porter series that was immensely successful, raking in millions of dollars in sales as well as in movie adaptations and sponsorships.

But Rowling’s immense success didn’t happen by chance or luck. She has overcome huge setbacks throughout her life and career. Her first Harry Porter novel was put in hold after she fell into a deep depression following the death of her mother. After a failed marriage and a daughter to raise, failure still wasn’t done with her. Even after sending her manuscript to 12 publishers and getting rejected by each one of them, her thirst for success was still burning inside her.

Her failure story doesn’t end there. She also got fired by at the Amnesty International London office for writing her stories during working hours all day long. The good thing is that J.K Rowling managed to turned failure into massive success, and you can do this too.


  1. Bill Gates

Every successful person has an ugly failure story behind them, and Bill Gates, the famous billionaire dubbed “World’s Richest Man”, is no exception. After dropping out of Harvard, Bill and his partner, Paul Allen, built a company that was known as Traf-O-Data in the early 70s. Sadly, the company never saw the light of another day as the duo closed shop after incurring a net loss of approximately $3494. That was a lot of money back then.

But amid the big failure, Bill Gates dust himself up and armed with more zeal and passion, and Microsoft, the billion-dollar company, was born.


  1. Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln is often reputed as one of the best presidents America has ever had. However, he was unfortunate enough to endure a steam of failures and defeat in his career.

In 1831, Lincoln lost his job. The following year saw his run for the Illinois State Legislature go down the drain after he was defeated. In 1833, Abraham failed terribly in his business. Even after being elected to Illinois State Legislature in 1834, failure wasn’t ready to let him go as the love of his life passed on the following year. In 1836, Lincoln experienced a nervous breakdown. He was unfortunate to experience numerous failures especially in his political career until he was successfully elected President in 1860.

That’s too much for one man to handle but Abraham Lincoln didn’t quit. Of course, he could have just decided to throw in the towel but he didn’t. He ended up becoming one of the best presidents in the American history.


  1. Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is considered by many people to be the greatest basketball player that ever lived. However, how he got there was not without setbacks.

As a kid, Jordan loved to play basketball, but no coach would give him a shot because he was too short. Even after finding his way into a basketball camp where a coach noticed him, he still wasn’t given a chance to play. The young lad was discouraged, but choose not to give up on what he loved doing the most.

Even after joining the national basketball team, Michael Jordan’s woes didn’t end there. In his famous quote about failure, Jordan stated that “I have missed more than 9000 shots in my entire career. I have lost approximately 300 games. I have missed, even after being entrusted to take the winning shot. I have failed time and again. And that’s why I succeeded.

The good thing is, his failure inspired gave him the determination and inspiration to work harder and become successful.


  1. Richard Branson

The VIRGIN company boss may be one of the immensely successful people in the world but he has had his share of failures as well. He has lost far more money compared to what most people earn in their entire lives, yet he chose to grind on and is currently one of the richest people in the world.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Digital lost to Apple and ended up closing shop two years later. His soft drink company, Virgin Cola, was a huge failure after losing to giant competitors like Coca-Cola and Pepsi. And that’s not all. His Virgin Atlantic Airlines almost crashed before it was even launched. And we can’t forget that his trip around the world almost killed him.

Yet out of the failures and life and death encounters, Richard Branson emerged a winner.


  1. Stephen King

Stephen King is ultimately one of the most famous authors in the world. The author is famous for his numerous critically-acclaimed novels. However, he didn’t achieve all this without setbacks.

His first novel, Carrie, was rejected by publishers 30 times before actually being published. Today, over 350 million copies of his work have so far been published. 


  1. Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban is a rich businessman, a famous TV star, and a celebrity team owner. But he didn’t just wake up one day and find himself rich. His success story is filled with lots of failures and disappointments.

Even after the TV show Benefactor in which he acted as a judge flopped, he chose not to give up. The guy is now a huge success with Shark Tank. Another one of Mark Cuban’s failure is losing All-Star point guard to a guy known as Steve Nash to the Phoenix Suns. That’s not all. Cuban’s all time biggest failure and regret was not jumping on board with Uber in its inception. He had an opportunity to invest in the startup but didn’t. Of course, he has kicked himself a thousand times over it but you know what, that was an important lesson that he learned the hard way.


  1. Elvis Presley

After his first performance, his manager Jimmy Denny belittled him, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere son. You should be drivin’ a truck.” But Elvis Presley was not one to give up easily. His manager’s cruel words did not dampen his big hopes of becoming a star. Later on, Elvis went ahead and sold more than 1 billion music records globally. Amazing, isn’t it? That’s what it being passionate and determined leads to.


  1. The Beatles

The famous band’s early career experienced a series of failures before becoming a huge hit. In the year 1962, The Beatles auditioned for Decca Records but were immediately rejected by the label, pointing out that “guitar groups were headed out.” This statement could have discouraged the bad but the label was in for a surprise by the hard-headed young men.

The band ended up being signed by the EMI and has maintained its spot as “the best –selling music group of all time.” Till now, their music is still largely downloaded and listened to by music lovers from all over the world.


It takes courage to swallow up disappointments and failures and still live on to fight another day. As they say, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Take a leaf from these hugely successful individuals and fight hard to reach the stars.


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