There’s no success without failure: the famous faces that failed


When it comes to reaching for our dreams, it can be hard to keep going – especially when we keep failing.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill.

If you don’t give up and keep trying, you try with more determination, you work harder than before and eventually you reap the rewards. Here are ten people that failed but didn’t give and you might just recognise a few of them.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah didn’t have the best of starts to life. Living with her mother, she was abused by family members from the age of 9 and gave birth to a son at 14 who died shortly after he was born. At 14 she was sent away to live with her father, who helped her focus on her school work. What Oprah ended up with was a full scholarship. After she graduated she was hired to work for a local television station, but was fired for being “unfit for television.” In 1983 she was hired by a low-rated talk show, AM Chicago. Oprah turned this show into the lowest to one of the highest rated shows. It was renamed and syndicated as The Oprah Winfrey Show.

J K Rowling

Before J K Rowling finished Harry Potter, she thought of herself as having failed. In 1992 she had moved to Portugal to teach English, met a man, got married and had a daughter. In 1993 her marriage was over and she was getting divorced. She left Portugal to move to Scotland, where she could be closer to her sister. She didn’t have a job or any money and suffered from depression. In 1995 all the major publishers had rejected Harry Potter. Bloomsbury books bought it with a £1,500 advance. In 1997 only 1,000 copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone were sold, 500 copies to libraries. Today, J K Rowling has sold over 400 million copies of her books.

Bill Gates

Bill Gates is known as one of the wealthiest men in the world and the force behind Microsoft, but his first business failed. Traf-O-Data was a business that was going to create reports for roadway engineers from raw data, but it failed. But this didn’t stop him. He went on to set Microsoft with Paul Allen (one of his partners in Traf-O-Data), revolutionising personal computing.

Walt Disney

Disney as a brand is an unstoppable power house, whether it is in theme parks, the animated motion pictures or the subsidiaries the company now owns, but Walt Disney had more than a few stumbling blocks in his path.

Disney was fired for lacking imagination by the Kansas City Star in 1919. His first business ended in bankruptcy, he was down, but he was not out. He moved to Hollywood, California, after filing for bankruptcy and started what is now the Walt Disney Corporation.

Sir James Dyson

A vacuum that doesn’t lose suction revolutionised cleaning for many, but did you know it took Dyson 5,126 failures before he found success? When Dyson finally had designed a working cyclonic vacuum, no retailer in the UK wanted to sell it. Dyson took his creation to Japan in 1983 and had some success, but still, manufacturers didn’t want to make it. Dyson’s response? He formed his own company in 1993 and today is worth more than £3 billion.

70th VE Day Anniversary


There has been so much coverage (and negativity) over the general election in the UK, that it seems to have overshadowed the commemoration of VE Day.

Winston Churchill waves to Whitehall

70 years ago today, Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland announced that the war with Germany was over, that there was Victory in Europe. The hun was defeated and millions of people everywhere gave a collective sigh of relief.

Winston Churchill and the Royal Family Celebrate

Today the leaders of some of the UK’s political parties came together, some for the last time as leaders, to lay wreaths to remember those that died in World War II as well as those that served and survived. Winston Churchill’s great grandson, Randolph Churchill, read part of the speech that was given by the Prime Minister: –

Relief on every face

“My dear friends, this is your hour. This is not victory of a party or of any class. It’s a victory of the great British nation as a whole. We were the first, in this ancient island, to draw the sword against tyranny. After a while we were left all alone against the most tremendous military power that has been seen. We were all alone for a whole year.

There we stood, alone. Did anyone want to give in? [The crowd shouted “No.”] Were we down-hearted? [“No!”] The lights went out and the bombs came down. But every man, woman and child in the country had no thought of quitting the struggle. London can take it. So we came back after long months from the jaws of death, out of the mouth of hell, while all the world wondered. When shall the reputation and faith of this generation of English men and women fail? I say that in the long years to come not only will the people of this island but of the world, wherever the bird of freedom chirps in human hearts, look back to what we’ve done and they will say “do not despair, do not yield to violence and tyranny, march straightforward and die if need be-unconquered.” Now we have emerged from one deadly struggle-a terrible foe has been cast on the ground and awaits our judgment and our mercy.

But there is another foe who occupies large portions of the British Empire, a foe stained with cruelty and greed-the Japanese. I rejoice we can all take a night off today and another day tomorrow. Tomorrow our great Russian allies will also be celebrating victory and after that we must begin the task of rebuilding our hearth and homes, doing our utmost to make this country a land in which all have a chance, in which all have a duty, and we must turn ourselves to fulfill our duty to our own countrymen, and to our gallant allies of the United States who were so foully and treacherously attacked by Japan. We will go hand and hand with them. Even if it is a hard struggle we will not be the ones who will fail.”

You can watch and listen to the original speech given by Winston Churchill here.

Lest We Forget

Lest We Forget.

Our heroes

General Thoughts

As the Christmas advert for Sainsbury’s has caused quite a stir amongst the population of Great Britain – some loving the sentiment, others thinking it is disrespectful, it has led to those of us in the office discussing who are heroes are this week.

Of course when someone mentions that they have a hero, it is a very personal choice and what each person means when they use the word ‘hero’ is different again.

The word ‘hero’ is thrown about quite a lot, well there are many powerful words that are careless thrown about but it is on heroes we are focusing. The charity, Help for Heroes, works to help those who have served in the UK’s armed forces and been injured in recent conflicts around the globe. The classic heroes in Greek mythology – Achilles, Jason, Hercules, Theseus, Perseus, Odysseus (as Phil says in Disney’s Hercules – there’s a lot of euses) – all had adventures, brushes with the Gods and accomplished great things. Then there are superheroes who are always there in the nick of time to save the day but most have powers that allow them to defend the weak and the helpless from the forces of evil.

In our discussions about heroes we have set aside the superheros and classic mythological figures and we asked everyone to name one hero from the real world and one hero from literature – here is what we all came up with:

The Real World

William Shakespeare

Winston Churchill

John Wayne

Elizabeth Fry

William Wilberforce

Nichelle Nichols

The Duke of Wellington

Admiral Horatio Nelson

Sir Patrick Stewart


Joan D’Arc

Queen Elizabeth I

As you can see there is quite a range of men and women from different time periods that the office dogs consider their heroes, there were some other names mentioned but when it came down to picking just one this is what was decided. Others that were mentioned included Queen Elizabeth II, William the Conqueror, Queen Isabella, Pocahontas, Columbus, Mulan, Sir Christopher Wren, Sir Issac Newton, Marie Curie, William of Orange and Boudica.

In Literature


Boudica (Boudica: Dreaming the…)


Aragorn (Lord of the Rings)

Thorin (The Hobbit)

Mr Darcy (Pride & Prejudice)

Robin Hood

Sherlock Holmes

James Bond

Edmund (The Chronicles of Narnia)

Elizabeth Bennett (Pride & Prejudice)

Sara Crewe (A Little Princess)

This one was far more interesting than the real world as it led to hot debate with those that chose Thorin and Aragorn coming under particularly heavy fire for casting aside the hobbits in favour of the race of Dwarves and Men. But when it comes to books we seem to invest more in our heroes and are far more vocal in our praising and their defense when people disagree. There were lots of other names that were thrown out during the discussion including Richard Sharpe (though we have a sneaking suspicion that was down to Sean Bean more than the books), Timmy the dog (from the Famous Five), Jimmy the Hand, Katniss and pretty much all the characters in Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit (yes including the villains).

But from both these lists there are some qualities that these people and characters all share – but we’ll leave finding the connections and identifying these qualities for another day.