Risk Watch with Alberta Quarcoopome: Famous “failures”—learning lessons to restart

Alberta Quarcoopome

Quitters never win, and Winners never Quit”

One interesting thing about famous successful personalities who “fail” is, THEY LEARN THEIR LESSONS AND MOVE ON: AFTER ALL, WINNERS NEVER QUIT!

Let us take a look at some famous personalities who went through painful times and bounced back: The following extract is by courtesy of “Mastering Soft skills for Workplace Success”:



  1. …a famous person who was defeated seven times while running for political office?
  1. …a cartoonist who was told by the editor of the Kansas City newspaper, “It’s easy to see from these sketches that you have no talent.”
  1. …an author whose first children’s book was rejected by 23 different publishers?
  1. …a famous singer who was fired after his first performance at the Grand Ole Opry?
  1. …a famous actress who dropped out of high school and held a variety of odd jobs, including doing the hair and make-up for corpses, before finally succeeding in show business?
  1. …a famous author who lived on welfare for years in an apartment infested with mice?
  1. …a famous athlete who was cut from the varsity basketball team his sophomore year in high school?
  1. …an inventor who was thrown out of school in the early grades because his teachers thought he couldn’t learn?
  1. …a famous Harvard University drop out?
  1. …an inventor of a fried chicken recipe that was rejected by more than 1000 restaurant owners?


  1. Abraham Lincoln was defeated in eight different elections. Yet he persisted and succeeded in becoming the 16th, and one of the most respected, presidents of the United States.
  1. Walt Disney was told he had no talent and fired from a newspaper job. He wound up doing volunteer work for a church in an old run down garage. One day he decided to sketch one of the many mice that were running through the garage. This mouse became the famous “Mickey Mouse.”
  1. Twenty-three different publishers rejected Dr. Seuss’s first book, while the 24th accepted and sold 6 million copies of it.
  1. Elvis Presley was fired after his first performance at the Grand Ole Opry. The manager told him, “You ain’t going nowhere, son. You ought to go back to driving a truck.” He went on to become one of the most famous American singers of the 20th century.
  1. Whoopi Goldberg dropped out of high school, was on welfare and worked as a bricklayer, bank teller, and licensed cosmetician. After graduating from Beauty College, she took a job at a mortuary fixing the hair of and applying make-up to the corpses.
  1. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, lived on welfare for years, in an apartment infested with mice, and was rejected by 12 publishers before going on to fame and fortune.
  1. Michael Jordan was the athlete who was cut from the varsity basketball team in his sophomore year of high school. Angry and embarrassed, he began to get up early each morning to practice with the junior varsity coach. Eventually he not only made the varsity team, but also became one of the most popular athletes in the world. Michael Jordan is quoted as saying, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
  1. Thomas Edison was the inventor who was kicked out of school. Following this, he was homeschooled by his mother. It took him over 700 tries before he got the filament right for the light bulb. Edison is quoted as saying: “I have not failed seven hundred times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those seven hundred ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”
  1. Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard University. He went onto become the youngest millionaire (at the age of 26) and is the CEO of Facebook.
  1. Harland David Sanders (better known as Colonel Sanders) had his fried chicken recipe rejected by more than 1,000 restaurant owners before it was accepted by one. Today, people still eat it at KFCs across the world.

One thing these persons had in common is the refusal to quit. Can you imagine Bill Gates, dropped out of Harvard and failed with his first business venture, Traf-O-Data?

They maintained the belief that they can transform or change a tough situation into something better. They took the difficult situations and found ways to EMPOWER themselves to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. Failing is a part of life. In fact, it accounts for many, many successes – for without failing, success is almost impossible. Learning how to bounce back from failure is not always easy, but it is necessary. Enthusiasm for goal attainment is a necessary characteristic for success.

Sober Reflections for Ghanaian Entrepreneurs

I am sure many local entrepreneurs are hurting to see their businesses and hard-won reputation falter. Hold it! It could have been worse. Sometimes one has to see the opportunities that some of these “failures” generate. This is a time for sober reflections of what went wrong and how one can bounce back again to show the world what winners are made of. Apart from the general downturn in the Ghanaian economy, let us look at some of these root causes of failures and opportunities for local entrepreneurs:

  • Perhaps you placed your friends and family members at the helm of affairs and put absolute trust in them
  • In trying to be nice and friendly, perhaps most of the staff are made up of people you know.
  • Perhaps you have been micro-managing affairs and not allowing delegated authorities to work. You cannot know everything.
  • Perhaps you are too authoritarian and do not encourage talents to be unearthed and utilized.
  • Perhaps the management team are mostly inexperienced and easily tow to your preference.
  • Perhaps you are negligent and lapses caused pilfering and unethical acts among employees.

Words of comfort to entrepreneurs

Have you ever failed so terribly that you didn’t want to get out of bed? Sometimes everything falls apart at the same time leaving you unsure of what to do next. Just remember that the famous failures on the above list had some bumps in the road too. And if they could learn the root causes, re-examine and select better qualified and dedicated staff who are assertive and can advise properly, they can go on to become some of the greatest successes in history.

He may be the world’s richest man today, but Jeff Bezos has said that he’s also made “‘billions of dollars of failures.”’ Prior to building Amazon, he built a company called zShops, which eventually sparked the idea for Amazon Marketplace. But even at Amazon, he’s created countless failed products However, Bezos’ believes in creating a culture at Amazon that embraces failure. He doesn’t believe in creating the same products as everyone else. And so being innovative has led to some failure. Today, Jeff Bezos’ , according to Forbes, is worth $127billion. Amazon continues to grow into an even bigger and more popular ecommerce website.

Famous failures teach you that sometimes painful setbacks help you learn new skills, get new experiences, and begin a different chapter in life. And it also shows you that just because you move towards another direction, it doesn’t mean you can’t go back.

Don’t quit. Press on and prove to the world what stuff you are made of. Keep walking.


Alberta Quarcoopome is a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers, and CEO of ALKAN Business Consult Ltd. She is the Author of Three books: “The 21st Century Bank Teller: A Strategic Partner” and “My Front Desk Experience: A Young Banker’s Story” and “The Modern Branch Manager’s Companion”. She uses her experience and practical case studies, training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations and fraud.


Website www.alkanbiz.com

Email:alberta@alkanbiz.com  or [email protected]

Tel: +233-0244333051/+233-0244611343




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