The Inbound Marketing Week in Review: Failure

Failure as a Life Lesson

A Few Words from & About the Experts

The Journey from Failure to Success

Harrison Ford was fired by the first studio he worked for and rejected for the role of Han Solo by George Lucas.

Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was 4 years old. He didn’t read until the age of 7. Described as “mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in foolish dreams,” Einstein won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921.

Einstein is said to have said:

“Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value.”

Michael Jordan was told, “Boy, who you kiddin? You can’t slam no ball!” Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. He went home, locked himself in his room, and cried. In 1992, Jordan played basketball as a member of the original Dream Team at the summer Olympic games. He is also one of the most famous sports personalities of all-time.

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”

Dr. Suess had his first book rejected by 27 different publishers! And to Think That I Saw It on MULBERRY STREET: Coloring and Activity Book was the first of many children’s books, a body of work that would create a cultural phenomenon unlike anything previously seen in publishing.

What do you think any one of those publishers would give for a do-over?

Dr. Suess has become legendary…by way of children’s  books!

The Cat in the Hat?

Certainly as famous as Michael Jordan and Albert Einstein…perhaps more-so!

Charles Darwin gave up a medical career. His father said, “You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat catching.” Darwin, referred to as a failure by his father and plagued by prolonged boughts of melancholia (depression), is often referred to as the father of modern biology.

Additionally, Charles Darwin is the author of what is arguably the most influential science book written. Darwin so feared the public backlash his theories, in concert with the publication of On the Origin of Species would cause, he barely touched on human evolution at all…briefly mentioning it in the final chapter.

Ludwig van Beethoven was said to have handled the violin awkwardly, his teacher labeling him “hopeless as a composer.”

Beethoven wrote five of his greatest symphonies while completely deaf…including perhaps his greatest symphony of all, Ode to Joy.

Take a moment and immerse yourself in the amazing genius that was and remains Beethoven!


Walt Disney had his dream, Disneyland, rejected by the city of Anaheim. Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because he “lacked imagination and had no original ideas.” Furthermore, Disney was bankrupt several times before finally achieving worldwide fame and fortune.

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” became a recurrent theme throughout Disney’s productions and theme parks.

Lucille Ball, better known for her character portrayal of Lucy, was dismissed from drama school with a note:

“Wasting your time, she’s too shy to put her best foot forward.”

The Beatles were rejected by a record company executive who said:

“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”

Another do-over, anyone?

President and General Ulysses S. Grant has been described as a failed soldier, farmer, and real estate agent. U.S. Grant finally gave up and, at 38 years old, went to work as a handyman…for his father.

Thomas A Edison’s teacher told he was too stupid to learn anything. The teacher suggested Edison go into a field where he might succeed by virtue of his pleasant personality.

Try, try again?

Edison certainly seems to have taken his own advice…ignoring his teacher too boot!

Abraham Lincoln’s fiance died and he failed in business twice. Lincoln had a nervous breakdown and lost 8 elections before becoming one of the greatest, if not the greatest, president in the history of the United States.

Elvis Presley was banished from the Grand Ole Oprey after one show.

Elvis was told,

“You ain’t going’ nowhere, son.”

Presley went on to become a music industry icon.

Babe Ruth spent his childhood years in an orphanage. He struck out 1330 times before setting a home run record that stood for more than half a century.

Oprah Winfrey was fired from her television reporter’s job and advised:

“You’re not fit for TV!”

Personal stories by:

Erin Brockovich; John Wooden; Jane Goodall; Johnny Unitas; Sam Donaldson; Teddy Pendergrass; Ann Richards; Bill Walton; Steve Allen; Billy Idol; Dr. Audrey Manley; Jimmy Breslin; and many more can be found in Steve Young’s great book, Great Failures of the Extremely Successful.

One of my favorite success stories comes from Jeremie Kubicek’s website. While the story has been told over and over again for more than 60 years, Jeremie does it quite well.

“FDR’s legacy left big shoes to fill. How was this simpleton, Truman, from Missouri supposed to lead a nation at one of the most crucial times in our country’s history? This was a man who had failed in business three times before he was 36. This was a man who had to move his family in with his mother-in-law to survive. Harry Truman was a washed up failure in his late 30’s.

“A short time later he would become President.

Kubicek goes on to list Truman’s list of accomplishments, a list that would define the man and his presidency.

“By his late 50’s he had accomplished what few men could comprehend.

  • A successful closure of World War II, both in Germany and in Japan.
  • Instituting the Marshall Plan that created a democratic and peaceful Europe.
  • He championed the United Nations.
  • He sponsored the creation of Israel.
  • He fought the spread of communism in Korea and helped keep it out of Turkey and Greece.

“There are many quotes that Harry Truman is famous for from the powerful:

“The buck stops here”

To the humble:

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

Yet none of them defines Truman’s life better than this:

“A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities

and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.”

I’ll share one more quote with you.

The quote is not a Harry Truman quote but it is one of my favorites…and it ties in with the overall theme:

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve!”

If you are sufficiently motivated, another 40 minutes will not only add to your day, and to your experience as a subscriber (I hope), it may alter your life…forever.

I am absolutely serious!

Check out this recording:

I have listened to more times than I can count over the years. Earl Nightingale’s recording of The Strangest Secret is perhaps the most important motivational recording I have ever experienced.

Take 32 minutes!

You have nothing to lose and more than you can possibly imagine to gain. If you still have time after The Strangest Secret? Check out Seth Godin’s interview of Richard Branson.

Check out these resources:

Jeremie Kubicek on Leadership

Earl Nightingale’s The Strangest Secret

Steve Young’s Great Failures of the Extremely Successful

Thank you for taking you time to review The Original Inbound Marketing Week in Review. Please let me know what you think. I’d love to hear any suggestions you might have…anything you might like to see covered?


Professor John P. J. Zajaros, Sr.
The Ultimate Internet Image
Inbound Marketing Consulting
Social Media Management
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
216-712-7004 (office)
440-821-7018 (mobile)

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