How Spielberg, Lady Gaga and 5 Others Used Failure to Get to Success


What if the secret to success, is failure?

Falling down and getting up, falling down and getting up, until
you’re flying?

Take a look at these legends below.

They didn’t frame failure as “failure” – just a speed bump.

How do you frame it?

J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter)

A welfare single mom, she sketched out Harry Potter
in pubs and her family’s home.  Now she is described as
wealthier than the Queen of England.

Sly Stallone

Stallone had to sell his dog for $25 to keep the electricity
on as a starving actor.  The Rocky script was rejected
hundreds of times.  United Artists would only pay him $35,000
if he insisted on starring in it himself, and a percentage of the profits.
He bought his dog back and made the film.
It grossed over $200,000,000.
His sequels grossed over a billion.

Lady Gaga

She got dropped by a major record label after 3 months.
As of 2013, she’s sold about 125 million singles.

Steven Spielberg

He was rejected from USC film school – twice.
In 1994 USC dedicated a building to him as a
thank you for his donations.


She was fired from Baltimore’s WJZ-TV for being too
“emotionally involved” with the stories she reported.
She hired a lawyer and a PR guy.   Today she’s worth 2.9 Billion.

Albert Einstein

Einstein did not speak until he was 4 years old and
did not read until he was 7. His parents thought he was
“sub-normal,” and his teachers described him as “mentally slow.”
He was expelled from school and refused admittance
to the Zurich Polytechnic .
He did eventually learn to speak and read.
Even to do a little math.

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.
Jordan once observed, “I’ve failed over and over again in my life.
That is why I succeed. “

Marilyn Monroe

In 1944, she was told by a modeling agency,
“You’d better learn secretarial work or else get married.”

 “The women give up.”

When the New Yorker editors were asked why they published more
men than women, they replied, “We have to turn people down, we
get thousands of submissions.  The women give up.  The men keep coming.”

Studies indicate that men play more team sports, which teaches them to
fail and get up and play again.  Many women don’t get this training.
Time to change, don’t you think?

Final Words:

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius

“Never, never, never, never, give up.”  – Churchill

4 Comments on “How Spielberg, Lady Gaga and 5 Others Used Failure to Get to Success”

    1. Hi Esther,

      Nice to hear from you. Yes, what an eye-opener.

      There’s a famous young woman poet whose husband kept an Excel spreadsheet of her (submissions actually he submitted for her) to the New Yorker.

      She was rejected 253 times. Then they accepted her and now she’s becoming an icon.

  1. What an inspiring post. I’ve heard many of those stories before but as entrepreneurs I don’t think we can hear them too much. Also the piece about women giving up too soon rings true.

    1. Hi Rachel,

      I agree. We forget that mega-successful people are just people who don’t give up. Have you read “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell? Fascinating study of success.

      Thanks for your comment.

      And yes, I agree about women giving up too soon. I think that’s changing.

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