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Failure to Succeed

Some years ago I was having lunch with the Chairman of the REED recruitment agency Mr. Alec Reed, when he said that he was once fired from his accountancy job with a bluechip company and over the years he has had set backs in business but has used the experience to set up a multi million pounds recruitment empire.

In fact he approached a publisher to write a book called ‘Failure to succeed’ but ironically was turned down.

And he is by no means alone in learning from past failures to set up a successful business.

Take the stories of these six entrepreneurs. Their stories end in massive success, but all of them are rooted in failure. They’re perfect examples of why failure should never stop you from following your vision.

Arianna Huffington got rejected by 36 publishers.

It’s hard to believe that one of the most recognizable names in online publications was once rejected by three dozen major publishers. Huffington’s second book, which she tried to publish long before she created the now ubiquitously recognizable Huffington Post empire, was rejected 36 times before it was eventually accepted for publication.

Even Huffington Post itself wasn’t a success right away.

In fact, when it launched, there were dozens of highly negative reviews about its quality and its potential. Obviously, Huffington overcame those initial bouts of failure and has cemented her name as one of the most successful outlets on the web.

Bill Gates watched his first company crumble.

Bill Gates is now one of the world’s wealthiest individuals, but he didn’t earn his fortune in a straight line to success. Gates entered the entrepreneurial scene with a company called Traf-O-Data, which aimed to process and analyze the data from traffic tapes (think of it like an early version of big data).

He tried to sell the idea alongside his business partner, Paul Allen, but the product barely even worked. It was a complete disaster.

However, the failure did not hold Gates back from exploring new opportunities, and a few years later, he created his first Microsoft product, and forged a new path to success.

George Steinbrenner bankrupted a team.

Before Steinbrenner made a name for himself when he acquired ownership of the New York Yankees, he owned a small basketball team called the Cleveland Pipers back in 1960. By 1962, as a result of Steinbrenner’s direction, the entire franchise went bankrupt.
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That stretch of failure seemed to follow Steinbrenner when he took over the Yankees in the 1970s, as the team struggled with a number of setbacks and losses throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

However, despite public fear and criticism of Steinbrenner’s controversial decisions, eventually he led the team to an amazing comeback, with six World Series entries between 1996 and 2003, and a record as one of the most profitable teams in Major League Baseball.

  • July 1, 2016

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