If you’ve been fired, you know how devastating that can be. 

Even if you did nothing wrong, being let go makes you feel judged, and if you did get fired for a reason, that sense of failure is even worse.

However, you can take some solace in the fact some of the world’s most successful people lost their jobs before, and sometimes after, becoming the names they are today.


Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison, the prolific inventor and ruthless businessman, was once told by a teacher he was “too stupid to learn anything.”

Whether this rather blunt assessment spurred him on is not know, but he went on to invent the electric light bulb, the telegraph, and a motion picture camera.

As famous for being a pragmatic businessman as he was for being an inventor, he had more than 1,000 patents in his life.

After homeschooling, he started his first business at 12, selling newspapers.

He launched his own newspaper and would sell it to passengers – until his improvisational lab in a luggage car caught fire, losing him access to trains.

Later in life, he worked for Western Union, where his multitasking cost him a job.

After asking for night shifts to continue with his experiments, Edison accidentally spilled sulfuric acid on the floor.

The acid dripped through the floorboards and his boss’s desk in the room beneath- as you can imagine, he was fired.

Edison’s most significant failures were the roots of his success: after trying out 1,000 ways before reaching a design that worked for the electric light bulb, Edison was questioned by a reporter, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?”

Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

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Oprah Winfrey

Since Oprah Winfrey’s talk show came out in 1986, she has been a household name, producing and acting in TV shows and movies.

It might come as a surprise to know that she was fired early in her career.

In another great call, a producer at Baltimore’s WJZ-TV told Winfrey that she was “unfit for television news.”

However, he offered her a consolation prize: a place on “People Are Talking,” a daytime TV which took off and started her career.

JK Rowling

JK Rowling, the icon who invented Harry Potter, started as a secretary but lost her job for writing fiction during company hours.

Rowling said: “I had failed on an epic scale.

“An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was a jobless, alone parent and as poor as it was possible to be in Britain without being homeless.”

Rowling took to writing in Edinburgh coffeehouses until her first book, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” 

By 2000, her first three books in the series had sold 35 million copies in 35 languages and earned $480 million globally. 

Steve Jobs

With the help of Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs formed an Apple Computers in his garage in 1976.

By 1980, Apple had become a billion-dollar business.

In 1984, Apple bought out the Macintosh; in 1985, Apple pushed out its founder due to concerns about competition from more low-grade Microsoft products.

In 2005, he said, “We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired.

“How can you get fired from a company you started?

“Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge, and eventually we had a falling out.

“When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30, I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.”

After persevering, In 1997, he returned as Apple’s CEO revolutionizing technology and bringing the company he founded and was fired from to unparalleled levels of profitability.

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