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Famous People Who Succeeded by Not Listening

image of an ear There’s a great page on the Emory University site called They Did Not Give Up. It shows things that were said to, or situations that were faced by, a number of famous people.

Some examples

  • The first book that Dr. Seuss wrote was rejected by 27 publishers.
  • The first time Sigmund Freud presented his ideas to his fellow scientists, he was booed from the stage. His response? He returned to his office and kept writing
  • A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Disney declared bankruptcy several times before he built Disneyland, which was rejected by the City of Anaheim the first time he proposed it.
  • And speaking of Walt Disney, he made a mistake of his own when he didn’t hire Charles Schultz. For Schultz, though, that was par for the course. Even the high school yearbook staff didn’t think much of his work – every cartoon he submitted to them was rejected.
  • After his first audition, the casting director told Sidney Poitier to “stop wasting people’s time and go out and become a dishwasher or something.” Poitier resolved at that moment to devote his life to acting.

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to listen


georgeMy first real at-risk business was a Ben Franklin franchise in my hometown. It’s a small town so back-to-school is a bigg season. We wanted to be open in time to capitalize on it. My franchise representative told me it couldn’t be done. His boss said it couldn’t be done. We determined we were going to do it. So we did! We opened to throngs of people patronizing our store and a bigg splash by the local media splash. It was a hit!


Sometimes it pays to listen and adapt


mary-lynn When I was in high school, I tried out for the basketball team. I made the first cut. I made the second cut. When the final cut came out, I looked at the list and my name wasn’t on it. I looked again. I couldn’t believe it! But I hadn’t made the team. So I took up music. I won awards. I even won a scholarship. My failure to make the basketball team allowed for bigger success in music than I could have ever imagined!


So it’s kind of funny. Sometimes it pays to ignore what people tell us. At other times, our disappointments fuel our BIGG success. The trick is knowing when to press on with what you’re doing and when to move on to press on.

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(Image by djeyewater)