3 examples of successful people that failed miserably
Most of the Super Rich have one thing in common according to Scott Galloway, New York University professor and founder of 9 successful companies:
Failure….and lots of it.
They’ve felt it over and over again and that’s no mere coincidence.
The road to success is paved by risks and risks can end up as, you know… failures. But that’s perfectly fine.
Failing should be encouraged. That’s especially the case in the US. Laws on bankruptcy are very forgiving so people are more willing to take risks. People are attracted to the land of new beginnings…. or even second, third, fourth beginnings.
Where failures are common and praised upon, more people seem to become rich. In fact, the US holds 58% of the 50 world’s richest people on the planet according to Business Insider.
But what’s that journey of frequent falls like? Let’s look at 3 cases of billionaires who failed miserably before they became who they are today.
Warren Buffet — a 200 Billion Dollar Mistake
In the 1960s, Buffet purchased stocks from a textile manufacturing company called Berkshire Hathaway after realizing that every time the company closed a mill there was a price bump in their stock shares.
He would buy shares after the company sold an underperforming mill and sell them back to the company after the price boost, gaining a small but secure profit from it.
During this process, Buffet and Berkshire’s CEO, Seabury Stanton, arrived at an informal agreement on a better offer price. However, when the time came to sell the shares back, Stanton lowered the repurchase price and this didn’t sit well with Buffet. Feeling betrayed, he decided to buy the number of shares that would give him control over the company and have the pleasure of firing Stanton himself. Now that’s what I call resentment.
However, this brief pleasure ended up being a huge mistake.
He spent a lot of time and capital on a company that was in irreversible decline rather than using his resources to invest in something much more profitable like in what would become his key signature, insurance. He kept this textile business open for 20 years before ending it which made him call this decision the “200 billion dollar mistake”.
Buffet’s net worth today: $75.8 billion
Steve Ballmer — an Extensive Series of Poor Choices
Ballmer was Microsoft’s CEO for over 14 years but he made so many mistakes during that period that Business Insider made a whole list of his failures.
That should’ve knocked anyone’s soul, wouldn’t it? Yet that didn’t stop him from becoming one of the richest people in the world.
Here are two examples of this endless list:
Buying a high priced company that underperformed quite robustly.
Microsoft acquired a hardware/software company specialized in mobile phones called Danger Incorporated for $500 million. This valuation was based on their success of the T-Mobile Sidekick smartphone, the first one of its kind to captivate teenagers and celebrities in North America.
Their next big move was going to be Kin, a next-gen mobile phone platform. However, things went south after Microsoft spent 2 years and about $1 billion to develop it but had to cancel it after 2 months of poor sales. Plus, most of the ex-Danger employees left Microsoft. A total disaster.
Trying to kill the wrong Google business
Ballmer was very worried about Google search service, even calling it a monopoly, and decided to battle it upfront with Microsoft’s own search engine, Bing, a lot of lawsuits, and billions poured into taking their place in people’s online services.
On top of losing that battle, he also missed Google’s development in the mobile software sector with Android. Windows Phone should’ve been their big battle horse, but it ended being in less than 2% of phones worldwide.
Another miserable failure.
Ballmer’s net worth today: $69.6 billion
Rupert Murdoch — Screwing up in Every Possible Way
Murdoch built a media empire with hundreds of national and international newspapers and broadcasting channels such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, The Sun, Fox News, and many more.
But it wasn’t a smooth ride for this Australian-American billionaire and even being an expert in this field, he made one of the worst deals in the history of digital media.
When Murdoch acquired MySpace, back in 2005 for $580 million, business was booming. It could’ve been Facebook with its dominating position as a social media site or it could’ve been Youtube with its failed video service just three months before Youtube’s release, but neither of those came to fruition.
MySpace got stuck in bureaucracy with corporate policies run by their father figure News Corp, and everything became too slow. In 2009 they were still leading most of the traffic to their site, but Facebook was growing really fast.
They had an internal mess nobody could solve but kept pouring money into new international offices, creating their own content delivery network, setting up legal music rights, and they even tried to buy Spotify!
All these poor choices eventually led Murdoch to sell MySpace for just $35 million in 2011 and learning a $545 million dollar lesson in the process.
Murdoch’s net worth today: $17.3 billion
If you don’t take risks you won’t fail but you’ll not succeed either.
Failure is part of a journey that people tend to overlook. And as you start realizing by learning about famous people’s struggle, you end up seeing a bunch of mistakes, poor choices, and quite frankly things you would say “did this really happened with these smart guys leading the way?”.
These billionaires learned some valuable but expensive lessons. It helps us see that there are many bumps and detours on the road to success and we all have to go through them.
Embrace failure because you won’t be able to avoid it but be sure to learn the hell out of it. And as someone much smarter than me said it a hundred years ago:
“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” — Henry Ford
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