Here’s four stories of failure from four very influential people

Eden Gillespie

For successful people, failure is an asset; a valuable lesson.

Amazingly, some of the most successful people were once major screw-ups – they gave birth to mistakes, were fired, went bankrupt and lived career horror stories.

But as Theatre Director James Littlewood said, “If we don’t get lost, we’ll never find a new route.”

Here’s five epic failure stories to demonstrate that errors really are an opportunity to grow.

Richard Branson

The billionaire founder of the Virgin Empire has a story rife with trial and error. 

Have you ever heard of Virgin Brides or Virgin Cola? No? That’s because both concepts were complete failures for Branson and never took off.

In fact Business Insider even has an article dedicated to Branson’s mishaps, including 14 of his greatest failures. The majority of errors listed being businesses that went bust under Branson’s control.

Branson has since headed 400 businesses and has a net worth of $5 billion USD, proving that mistakes are the quickest way to learn, and certainly won’t stop success from rolling in.

Steve Jobs

Say what you want about college drop outs, Steve Jobs was one of the many billionaires that never finished university.

The genius businessman, best known for his success with Apple, didn’t live life by the book. His career journey includes being originally fired from Apple – which seems unbelievable in hindsight.

In a speech at Stanford Jobs said: “getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

Reid Hoffman

While Hoffman isn’t as big a household name as Jobs or Branson, he’s the founder of the enormously successful website where professionals network and connect – LinkedIn.

He’s also invested in big-shot businesses like Airbnb and PayPal.

Before reaching his career peak with the so-called Facebook for professionals, Hoffman attempted to start an online dating website, ‘SocialNet’, a business venture which ultimately failed.

His business strategy: “You jump off a cliff and you assemble an aeroplane on the way down” – something he definitely got right the second time around with LinkedIn. His net worth now standing at an impressive US$4.7 billion.

Sir James Dyson

Best known for developing Dyson vacuum cleaners, a brand that almost every household has in their home, Sir James Dyson has achieved massive success in his career.

The British inventor has sold more than 20 million vacuums and even has a net worth of US $4.6 billion, just lagging behind Hoffman’s.

What’s little known about the businessman is that it took over 15 years and all his savings to develop his first bag-less prototype which came after 5,126 prototypes which failed first.

As Dyson once said “An inventor's path is chorused with groans, riddled with fist-banging and punctuated by head scratches.”

So next time you miss a deadline or forget to reply to an email, remember, it’s just part of the process.

Eden Gillespie

Eden Gillespie is a Sydney-based freelancer who writes about politics, travel, media and marketing.

Twitter: @edengillespie | | Website:

Image: Land Rover MENA, Flickr Creative Commons License