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Novelist, screenwriter, and film producer.
Challenge: In her 20s, she was a divorced, unemployed single parent who resisted suicidal thoughts only because she needed to care for her infant daughter. She was "as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless… by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew."
Success: Her Harry Potter series of books have sold more than 400 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 68 languages.
Photo Credit: By Executive Office of the President [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Best Selling Author
Challenge: After his manuscript was rejected by 30 publishers, he threw it in the trash. His wife retrieved it and urged him to try one more time.
Success:Author of more than 50 horror and sci fi books (all best sellers), including Carrie, the one he tried to toss.
Photo credit: Stephanie Lawton, Flickr, CC2.0
Challenge: At age 16, he failed to reach the required standard in the general education part of a school entrance exam and was rejected from the polytechnic school he had hoped to attend.
Success: He developed the general theory of relativity and became the winner of the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics.
Photo credit: Photograph by Orren Jack Turner, Princeton, N.J. Modified with Photoshop by PM_Poon and later by Dantadd. [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Actor, dancer, singer in more than 30 films.
Challenge: After viewing this man’s screen test, a talent scout wrote, "Can’t act. Can’t sing. Balding. Can dance a little."
Success: The American Film Institute named him one of the Top 50 All-Time Silver Screen Legends
Photo credit: Still from MGM musical "The Band Wagon" (1953), scene from "Girl Hunt Ballet."
Singer and Actor.
Challenge: After his first on-stage performance, his manager told him, "You aint goin’ nowhere son. You ought to go back to driving’ a truck."
Success: Sold more than 600 million records and known as the King of Rock and Roll.
Photo credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ6-2067 Location: NYWTS -- BIOG - The Library of Congress retrieved 3d02067r.jpg fromJailhouse Rock.
Inventor and businessman.
Challenge: As a boy, he was told he was "too stupid to learn anything." As an adult, he was fired from his first two jobs because he wasn’t productive enough.
Success: Held patents for more than 1,000 inventions, including the motion picture camera and electric lightbulb.
Director of 50+ films.
Challenge: Due to poor grades in high school, this man was rejected all three times he applied to University of Southern California.
Success: He won three Academy Awards and has an estimated net worth of $3 billion.
Photo credit: David Torcivia, Flickr, CC2.0
Television talk show host, media mogul, and philanthropist.
Challenge: She was demoted from her first-ever job as a news anchor because, according to her boss, she was too emotional and not a good fit for television.
Success: Often called the world’s most influential woman.
Photo Credit: Alan Light, Flickr, CC2.0
English rock band.
Challenge: When they first auditioned for a record contract, these band members were told, "We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."
Success: Most successful music group of all time with more than 1 billion units sold.
Photo credit: United Press International (UPI Telephoto) Cropping and retouching: User:Indopug and User:Misterweiss [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Singer and songwriter.
Challenge: Music industry reps told her that she didn’t have the right look, wasn’t pretty enough to be a headline singer, and that non of the songs she’d written would be hits.
Success: Winner of five Grammy Awards and named as Billboard Magazine’s Artist of the Year.
Photo credit: Sarah_Ackerman, Flickr, CC2.0
Challenge: In her first two television jobs, she was fired and replaced with other actresses.
Success: Star of Scandal, Ray, and Fantastic Four
Photo credit: David Shankbone, Flickr, CC2.0
Singer, songwriter, and music producer.
Challenge: After dropping out of college, she worked at Dunkin’ Donuts. She was fired on her first day because she squirted jelly filling on a customer.
Success: Top-earning touring female artist in the history of Boxscore with more than $1.31 billion in ticket sales.
Photo credit: Jason H. Smith, Flickr, CC2.0
Author and artist.
Challenge: His first book was rejected by 27 publishers.
Success: Sold more than 600 million copies of his 44 children’s books.
Photo credit: Al Ravenna, New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Actor and comedian.
Challenge: At age 12, his father lost his job and their family was forced to live in a van. On his 16th birthday, he dropped out of high school to work as a janitor to help support his family.
Success: Star of more than 40 films; Golden Globe and People’s Choice award winner.
Photo credit: Ian Smith, Flickr, CC2.0
Writer and vlogger.
Challenge: A former employer called him a "horrible slob" who "didn’t do his job all that well." He was rejected from an advanced creative writing course, dumped by his girlfriend, and took ten years to write one book.
Success: His YouTube channels have millions of subscribers and his books top charts of best sellers.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr, CC2.0
Animator, film producer, and entrepreneur.
Challenge: He was fired from a Missouri newspaper for "…not being creative enough…" and, later, his first business went bankrupt.
Success: Holds the record for most Academy Awards won by an individual.
Photo credit: Harsh Light, Flickr, CC2.0
Former NBA player.
Challenge: After failing to make his high school’s varsity basketball team, he went home, locked himself in his room and cried.
Success: Winner of six NBA championships and five MVP titles; called "the greatest basketball player to ever grace the court".
Photo credit: Joshua Massel, Flickr, CC2.0
16th President of the United States of America.
Challenge: His mother died when he was nine. His first love died when he was 26. He suffered such a deep depression that his friends and neighbors worried he might kill himself.
Success: Led the U.S. during the Civil War, preserving the Union and abolishing slavery.
Photo credit: Alexander Gardner [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Founder of Ford Motor Company.
Challenge: His business ideas failed and he went broke five times before he succeeded.
Success: Created the Model T automobile, revolutionized assembly line production, and built a thriving business.
Photo credit: Hartsook, photographer. [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Professional NBA player.
Challenge: He was a college athlete who received no athletic scholarships, wasn’t chosen by any team during the NBA draft, and was once viewed by one of his coaches as the weakest guy on the team."
Success: Earned millions of dollars in salary and endorsements; also, named as one of Time Magazine’s "Top 100 Most Influential People int he World".
Photo credit: Fene Wang, Flickr, CC2.0
Challenge: He grew up surrounded by poverty, alcoholism, and violence. He endured the first of three brain surgeries when he was just five months old.
Success: Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.
Photo credit: ASU Department of English, Flickr, CC2.0
Rapper, music producer, and entrepreneur
Challenge: He was raised by a single mom in the projects of Brooklyn and dropped out of high school. Later, he was rejected by every major record label and was told the market was too small for his style of music.
Success: Holds an estimated net worth of $520 million.
Photo credit: Joella Marano, Flickr, CC2.0