Oprah Winfrey (Courtesy photo)
Oprah Winfrey (Courtesy photo)

Whether you’re applying for a new job, dating or trying to dunk on LeBron James, rejection is a part of life. You just have to get used to it. It’s all about how you respond to rejection with many of the most successful people on the planet going through more than their fair share of setbacks. This is just a list of some people who refused to take no for an answer before making it big in their respective fields.

1) Dustin Hoffman

“If Dustin Hoffman’s face were his fortune, he’d be committed to a life of poverty,” wrote one early review of the great actor’s work. Hoffman was, undoubtedly, a huge failure in his early life. He was constantly turned down for parts for what he calls his “funny looks and a funny nose.” However, the man born in Los Angeles eventually had the last laugh there, with early success in The Graduate and eventually winning a best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Ted Kramer in Kramer vs. Kramer.

2) The Beatles

“Guitar groups were on the way out,” remarked Decca Records executive, Dick Rowe. Record executives are supposed to be ahead of the curve but unfortunately for Decca, Rowe missed the mark when he first heard The Beatles play. Whatever happened to them?

3) Anna Wintour

Dame Anna Wintour has been the editor-in-chief of fashion magazine Vogue since 1988. She is one of the most influential figures in the fashion industry today as well as a hugely successful editor in her own right. She is often cited as the inspiration behind Miranda Priestly, the character from the hit novel and film, The Devil Wears Prada. However, it wasn’t always this way. Wintour was once fired from her job as junior fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar because her fashion shoots were a little too edgy for her superiors.

4) Steven Spielberg

One of the greatest directors of all time was once rejected by the University of Southern California film school. Three times. Spielberg later went on to have a moderately successful career in filmmaking, directing the Indiana Jones films, Schindler’s List, E.T., Jurassic Park and Saving Private Ryan.

5) Terry Crews

One of the few people on this list to move to a new field after facing rejection, Terry Crews was once a professional football player who had time at the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Diego Chargers. Crews was an eleventh-round pick in the 1991 draft but retired from the sport six years later after failing to make a real impact. Instead, Crews turned his talents to acting and has since had tremendous success in Brooklyn Nine-Nine (aired on Fox), Everybody Hates Chris, and a cameo part in Bridesmaids. The 2011 comedy was a smashing success worldwide and is still beloved today. The movie still produces merchandise with t-shirts, mugs, and even a popular online game where you can play slots.

6) Oprah Winfrey

Oprah is her own industry with millions of devoted fans tuning into everything she does. She was the first black multi-billionaire and has established an award-winning talk show, book club, as well as an Oscar nomination for her acting work. This is the same Oprah Winfrey who was once fired from a reporting job for being too emotionally invested in her work. Little did they know, but that emotion would be one of the main reasons why Oprah is so beloved by her fans.

7) Steve Jobs

Don’t you just hate it when the company you helped create rises up to remove you as its CEO? Steve Jobs sure did when Apple gave him the boot in 1985. With the company closing on bankruptcy, Jobs returned to Apple twelve years later and helped steer it to global success. The iPod, iPhone and the iMac have revolutionised computing with Jobs’ impact being felt across the world.

8) J.K. Rowling

The author of the most successful series of books ever published was rejected so many times it’s not even funny. Eight different publishers rejected J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series before Bloomsbury eventually took a gamble on it. It sold over 500 million copies, spanned a billion-dollar movie franchise and has two devoted theme parks. Not bad for an author who was once told by a publisher to ‘not quit her day job.’

9) Stephen King

Another author on the list. Stephen King hasn’t created a series as successful as the Harry Potter universe, but he is still one of the most beloved and famous novelists of all time for his thrilling novels. It wasn’t always this way. King’s first published novel, Carrie, was actually rejected by publishers over thirty times before eventually getting to print. To date, King has written 54 novels which have sold over 350 million copies.

10) Walt Disney

Without Walt Disney there would be no Mickey Mouse, no Donald Duck or Goofy. Early animation would not have existed and modern animation would probably be decades behind today’s level. Disney effectively made animated cartoons a mainstream genre which is beloved by billions, not bad for a man who was once fired by a local newspaper for a “lack of imagination.” Not bad at all.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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