Beyonce, Walt Disney and other famously successful people who failed at first

Beyonce, Walt Disney and other famously successful people who failed at first

Michael Jordan, J.K. Rowling, and Steve Jobs also experienced the bitter taste of failure before making it big


Before the success of Destiny's Child, Beyonce was in a girl group called Girl's Tyme.
Photo: AFP

As humans, we all fail at some point in our lives. After a nerve-racking few weeks of HKDSE and IB results, we know that some of you may be disappointed with your grades. But we’re here to remind you that it is absolutely OK to fail.

In fact, some of the most successful people on the planet crashed and burned before making it big. Here are just a few stars who turned their worst defeats into their greatest triumphs.


Before becoming a global superstar, Beyoncé was in a girl group named Girl’s Tyme. The group entered the TV talent show Star Search (the American Idol of the time), but lost. Their dreams were crushed – and on national television, too.

But bigger and better things awaited the singer. She founded a new group, Destiny’s Child, and they became hugely popular. Since then, Beyoncé’s success has grown beyond measure. A 22-time Grammy winner, and now the voice of Nala in Disney’s The Lion King remake, she is one of the biggest pop stars on the planet.

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Michael Jordan

He’s now considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time, but Michael Jordan’s success did not come overnight. It took hard work, patience, and perseverance. At 15, he failed to make his secondary school basketball team and had to join the junior team instead. Watching his teammates move up the ranks without him was devastating, but it motivated him to train harder than ever.

Jordan has since gone on to have a phenomenal career in basketball, but it hasn’t been without failures – he has missed 9,000 shots and lost almost 300 games. But he believes each one led him to something better, and he may be right: he has two Olympic gold medals, six NBA championships, and 14 MVP awards to his name.

NBA basketball legend Michael Jordan
Photo: EPA

Steve Jobs
It’s hard to believe that Steve Jobs, a name synonymous with Apple, was once fired from the company. Yep, the man who helped develop some of the finest technology of the 21st century was no stranger to failure.

After his involuntary departure from Apple, Jobs began working for Pixar, where he helped to create the Pixar Image Computer. Unfortunately, fewer than 300 were ever sold. Still, Jobs’ love of innovation spurred him on, and he founded another company, NexT. Eventually, he took the lessons he learned both there and at Pixar back with him to Apple, and under his leadership, the company went from strength to strength. Today, he is remembered as a pioneer of the consumer tech world.

Steve Jobs is a name that is synonymous with Apple.
Photo: EPA

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Walt Disney was a struggling artist when he created Mickey Mouse.

Walt Disney
Walt Disney is a legendary figure in animation, but back in the 1920s, he was just another struggling artist. The first cartoon company he founded went bankrupt after just a few years With only US$40 to his name, he moved to Los Angeles, hoping to break into the film industry – but that didn’t work out either.

Undeterred, he set up another cartoon company. His first creation, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, quickly became a hit, but the success was short-lived; the producers of the cartoon took the rights to Oswald, leaving Disney with nothing. Still, he didn’t give up; he created a brand new character, a little-known figure named Mickey Mouse. The rest is history.

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J. K. Rowling

When J. K. Rowling first came up with the idea for Harry Potter, her mother had just died and she was battling through grief and depression. Seeking comfort overseas, she moved to Portugal to teach English – only to return with a failed marriage, no money, and a child to raise on her own.

It was then that Rowling decided to finally write her story about the boy wizard. But when she sent the manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to publishers, she received rejections from every single one. Even when the editor at Bloomsbury Publishing agreed to read it, she told Rowling to find a day job since writing children books wouldn’t earn her a living. Rowling, of course, proved her wrong by becoming one of the bestselling – and wealthiest – authors in the world.

British author J. K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' was rejected by many publishers at the beginning of her career.
Photo: AFP


Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Started from the bottom …


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