EP 71 - Steve Simonson - Famous Failures




Awesomers Insights  - Steve and from time to time other "insiders" will share their knowledge about specific topics to help the listeners improve their knowledge on a subject. We considered calling these episodes noesis shows, but we didn't know how to pronounce the word. By the way, Noesis means: The psychological of perception and learning and reasoning. We would choose this word because we want to help leaders develop into decision machines vs. always looking for an external solution.


SHOW TRANSCRIPT:

6 Famous Failures Who Refused to Give Up


We all face adversity. Don't let your setbacks stand in your way.


On today’s Awesomers Insights episode, Steve talks about some of the famous failures in history. Here are important takeaways on today’s episode:

  • The famous failures of all time including that of Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, the Beatles and Albert Einstein.

  • “Am I worth it? Am I smart enough? Am I fast enough?” Some of the questions every entrepreneur asks themselves.

  • The common challenge extraordinarily successful people had to face.


So be inspired by today’s episode and remember that failure only brings you another step closer to success.


01:15 (Steve opens up today’s episode.)

05:23 (Steve’s axiom 10 - fail fast.)

06:08 (Steve talks about one of the first famous fails in history.)

08:36 (Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for “lacking imagination and original ideas.”)

11:52 (Steve Jobs was fired from Apple for presumably lacking vision.)

16:14 (Oprah was demoted from her job as a news anchor because she “wasn’t fit for television.”)

17:57 (Decca Recording Studios on the Beatles: We don’t like their sound.)

19:54 (According to Albert Einstein’s teacher, he would never amount to much.)


Welcome to the Awesomers.com podcast. If you love to learn and if you're motivated to expand your mind and heck if you desire to break through those traditional paradigms and find your own version of success, you are in the right place. Awesomers around the world are on a journey to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. We believe in paying it forward and we fundamentally try to live up to the great Zig Ziglar quote where he said, "You can have everything in your life you want if you help enough other people get what they want." It doesn't matter where you came from. It only matters where you're going. My name is Steve Simonson and I hope that you will join me on this Awesomer journey.


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01:15 (Steve opens up today’s episode.)


Steve: Everybody it's me, Steve Simonson and I'm coming back to you again with another Awesomers episode. This is Awesomers.com episode number 71. So the super secret handshake is just go to Awesomers.com/71 to find all the show notes and details. Now today, we're doing a little bit of a pivot for you. So the first thing I wanted to share with you is that you know we've been producing content faster than our audience can consume it. So in many cases, the average day of content output is around 60 minutes, yet we realize that you know with all your business going and all your daily activities and even other podcasts - I can't believe you listen to other podcasts instead of just me. But, no. Dare I say that there are other podcasts in this world that you're listening to. It's hard for everybody to consume and keep up with the output of our production, of our factory at Awesomers.com so we're gonna start breaking the show in the 15 to 20 minute segments. So even if I'm doing a long-form interview like the origin story which all parts of that are very interesting, we're gonna break that into again 15 to 20-minute slugs so that you can kind of download and consume it at a reasonable pace. And our mission is to deliver these daily podcasts because we want to give you something you can collect, something you can count on seven days a week. And again my commitment up to 180 episodes, we've already produced well over I think it's 75 or 80 hours of content. And of course not all of it is quite released yet but the point is, we're going to make this pivot to try to make your experience a little easier and try to make sure that the content output matches what you're able to actually consume. So looking forward to getting your feedback on that pivot and just make sure that you know we're reading the tea leaves correctly. And by the way, I don't know nothing about nothing, my axiom zero. So it's very easy for me to be corrected. So feel free to let us know how we're doing. You can go to Awesomers.com/contact and send us your input and feedback. And speaking of feedback, why not go ahead and leave us a review and let us know how we're doing overall. Those reviews really do keep the team going and kind of make this free kind of... what do you call this - this free media method of reaching folks and leaving what we think is wisdom and inspiration out there in the world something worthwhile. Just a little feedback can help feed the soul.


Alright let's let's jump in today to our subject. And we're gonna talk about famous failures. I've been getting a lot of email, relatively new entrepreneurs in the business, less than five years. Whatever the business is; some of them have factories, some of them have private label brands that are selling in E-commerce, others have stores that they're operating. And I get calls or emails or messages and they say you know, “I'm too scared to take this next step. I'm I'm too nervous.” Or they don't always phrase it like that. Sometimes they say, “Well, here's why I shouldn't take this next step.” But as they describe why they shouldn't do it, they're giving you kind of all the reasons they should and they're just looking for me to kind of tap my magic wand as if I have some opinion that is worthwhile and say, “Yes, go forward. You'll be fine.” And as much as I understand that and we all want to have kind of the support and you know mentorship or advice of others and I'm happy to provide that to some extent, my opinion is not that much more valuable. It's not actually more valuable than anybody else's including the gut instincts of the entrepreneur themselves. Okay, so we're gonna jump into this episode. This is an Awesomers.com Insights episode where we’re talking about famous failures and these failures are simple enough. Many of you may have already know components of these stories, so you'll certainly know who the famous people are who've had these failures and that's part of the point is, everybody kind of goes through these ups and downs and these this general feeling of you know “Am I worth it?” and “Am I smart enough? Am I fast enough? Are the risk worthwhile?” etc.


05:23 (Steve’s axiom 10 - fail fast.)


So we're doing this and we're following my standard format of axiom 10 which is fail fast. And I'm not going to do a whole episode on axiom 10 because we've already kind of done a summary of that in a recent axioms episode. But you know sometimes people say fail forward, fail fast. The point is to kind of just desensitize, desensitize the word fail. Failing just means you tried it and it hasn't worked yet and you know kind of just get over that premise. I have failed countless times, literally, I can't count them. That's how many times. So you know, please understand that is just kind of a normal part of doing business. It's a normal part of life to be honest with you. Alright, let's get into one of our first famous fails.


06:08 (Steve talks about one of the first famous fails in history.)


So if you're in the United States you follow NBA or if in the world you follow NBA, you know the name Michael Jordan. Maybe just you've worn his shoes but Michael Jordan was one of the most prolific and famous NBA basketball players of all time; extraordinary to watch, extraordinary to see. You know apply his craft on the basketball court but very few people don't realize that he was cut from his high school basketball team. And that was due to lack of talent from the coaches’ perspective. He went home, locked himself in his room and he cried, right. Now, this is the greatest player - arguably the greatest player of all time. You know other people could throw in some more modern players like LeBron James or whatever but he's arguably the greatest basketball player of all time and yet he was cut from his high school basketball team. And one has to wonder what  would have happened if he would have just said, “You know what? Screw it. Obviously basketball is not for me.” And just went on with his life in a different direction, you know. How different would the world be that we live in? I wonder about that. You know, whose shoes would we be wearing. Will they be Larry Bird shoes? I don't know. So another couple of fun facts here real quick. He talked about this idea of failure commonly and he points out, hey over the course of his career he missed 9000 shots. 9,000 shots - he lost almost 300 games collectively as a team. Which you know every one of those losses, probably not that great of a feeling and 26 times he was trusted to take the game-winning shot and he missed, right? So even the great Michael Jordan had you know kind of obstacles in front of him and I don't want people to forget that. So you know that's a very good first example. We're gonna take a quick break and when we come back, we're gonna get into some more great examples including Steve Jobs, Walt Disney and several others. We'll be right back after this.


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08:36 (Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for “lacking imagination and original ideas.”)


Steve: Okay, we're back again everybody. And today, we are talking about famous failures and we're on to Walt Disney. And this is one of my favorites because he was actually fired from a newspaper for “lacking imagination and having no original ideas”. Now, can you imagine the editor who decided that he should you know, that he lacked imagination or has no original ideas? This is Walt Disney after all who went on to create some of the most lasting and enduring pop icons, pop culture movies, references and so many other things over the course of time. Now of course, you know the company's going on to do great things but again people you know, can you just rewind and think - put yourself in those shoes. You don't know that you're Walt Disney. You know your name but you don't know what you're gonna become. And being fired from a newspaper for lacking imagination of all things; he wasn't fired for being a bad worker, he wasn't fired for you know not being able to spell well, for lacking imagination and having no regional ideas. Irony dripping from those statements like crazy. By the way, after he was fired from the newspaper, he started a number of businesses right. Everybody's like - of course we know Disney, Disneyland, Disney World, Disney movies, whatever. But you'd be surprised perhaps to know that those first businesses he started did not last long and they ended up in bankruptcy and failure. That's right. Walt Disney tried stuff, it failed and he went through bankruptcy to solve it. Even after achieving kind of commercial success with movies and you know on the national scale, even perhaps the global scale back then. I'm not sure how the distribution was but you know the old movies Cinderella and and all those old classics that came out during Walt's original kind of rise to fame, they were already extraordinarily powerful movies and the entire nation knew you know Walt Disney movies and he decided he's gonna open Disneyland. And as that was happening, I believe this is in the mid-50s, the newspapers called it Walt's folly on its opening day saying, “Who goes in bulldozes you know orange groves and puts in this big amusement park? This is a terrible idea.” So I share this to let you know number one, that some of the greats went through their own self-doubt, went through their own impostor syndrome, went through their own literal failures on the road to success. But also that maybe the other people who are telling you stuff, don't know what they’re talking about. And it's a classic you know difference between Awesomers and Normies. Normies will try to talk you off the ledge and they'll in many ways they want to try to help you and they do that by saying, “No, that's a bad idea. You shouldn't do that. Don't take the risk. This is scary to me, it should be scary to you.” And so I just want to point out that you know Michael Jackson or Michael Jordan's coach in our previous story, he was wrong. It doesn't mean he's a bad guy, he was just simply wrong. And you know whoever's calling Disneyland Walt's folly or the newspaper editor who decided he lacked imagination, they're just simply wrong. And I'm not judging them so much as I'm saying let other people be wrong, you go prove them wrong and you do what you want to do.


11:52 (Steve Jobs was fired from Apple for presumably lacking vision.)


Alright, let's talk about Steve Jobs. This is one of my favorites because you know at just 30 years old, he was you know absolutely devastated and completely depressed about being basically fired from Apple. And this was a time when Apple was you know going through a pretty decent growth and they had brought on a board. In fact, Steve Jobs had convinced this particular guy who became the chairman of the board that you know he recruited him from Pepsi. He's like you know, “Stop making sugar water. Come work for me and let's do something and change the world.” And the guy that he brought in ultimately later led the board to remove Steve Jobs for presumably lacking vision or not having the companies you know goals or objectives in alignment or you know, whatever. Obviously, it wasn't done just you know for no reason at all. There was a reason behind it. Obviously at some point later, Steve had started another company and Apple was struggling at that point after he left, it began a struggle and they ended up you know buying Steve's company and bringing him back in and things got you know put back together. But a lot of people don't remember after that kind of reemergence of Steve Jobs back at Apple, in 1997 Apple basically needed to be saved by Microsoft who infused 150 million dollars into the Apple company. Now, these are two great competitors, right. The two different operating systems and despite the fact that Microsoft made software for Apple like Word and Excel and so forth, you know Microsoft would have been much better off arguably just by taking that competitor out of the loop, making Apple disappear and just staying in that world of PCs or PC clones. But for whatever reason, I think Gates and Jobs had a cordial if not collegial relationship and Jobs basically said we need this help and Gates, Bill Gates stepped up and helped infuse 150 million that really did save Apple. So that was another point. You know even after that termination that Jobs kind of had to you know go out of the fire back into the frying pan and then he was able to you know kind of put more of his ideas and the company was able to have a little bit of a respite. A lot of people don't remember that the iPad was called the worst product name ever so this is after the iPhone had already been released. They said the iPad was the stupidest name ever and they called it you know all kinds of of dumb basically. And once again the people writing these columns and writing these things don't know what they're talking about because it worked out okay. A lot of people don't forget that the original iPhones had problems. This is so-called antenna gate where the iPhone 4 - if you held your hand over too much, the antenna would reduce receptivity and that was obviously not good for people who want to make and take phone calls. And they called it an antenna gate. They're like, “Ah, this was you know the the smartphone thing and you know that's cool but you know it doesn't work fundamentally.” So that was you know another you know “failure” that they had to deal with, that Steve Jobs literally had to deal with. And I remember him standing on stage basically going, “Hey, nothing's perfect you know. Sometimes calls don't go through.” More or less rationalizing that you know we shouldn't expect our technology to be perfect despite the fact that Apple strives to have that feeling of extraordinary user experience right. Where you don't have to think about the technology, you just use it and it just works. So that's you know again just something to reflect on. Finally, you know one of the things that Steve Jobs did is he literally used death as a reason to never fear failure. He called it the single best invention in life. Basically saying, “Hey, you know the the man with the head, the sickles is coming. Death is coming. So might as well make today worthwhile.” And at the end of the day he would ask himself you know, “Was today a day I'm proud of? You know is today a day that you know was worthwhile to me?” And I think that's a pretty good lesson for Awesomers out there.


16:14 (Oprah was demoted from her job as a news anchor because she “wasn’t fit for television.”)


Alright let's jump in to Oprah. Now, she’s you know very famous and has gone on to do movies and TV and all kinds of things. But she was in fact demoted from her job as a news anchor as “wasn't fit for television” right. And again, when you’re talking about irony - give me a break. This is an extraordinary accomplished woman who has really scaled the heights of TV that I think are unrivaled. I don't know of another personality on television who and even in the movies who's more famous and more impactful and exerts more influence over the world than Oprah Winfrey. Yet somebody, somewhere decided that as a news anchor, she wasn't fit for television. And you know that there's a common thread in these stories that you know each of these people, each of these now extraordinarily successful people had to face - somebody looking them in the eye and going, “You know what? You're not good enough. You're not worth it. You're not gonna make it.” And these people didn't stop. You know, I'm sure that there were times again where they were depressed or down or whatever but they picked themselves up and they carried on and that's part of the point. That's what Awesomers do. We're gonna take another quick break and when we come back, we're gonna get into some more fun stuff. You're gonna love it. Be right back after this.


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17:57 (Decca Recording Studios on the Beatles: We don’t like their sound.)


Steve: Okay, we're back again everybody and we're moving on to the Beatles. Now, the Beatles were famously rejected by Decca Recording Studios who said again, “We don't like their sound” and “they have no future in show business.” And again today we're like - but that's the Beatles! It's so obvious to us but somebody who is in a position of power and a position really of understanding of an industry made that proclamation that “you know don't like their sound, they have no future in show business” and that kind of rejection must have been devastating. In fact, they almost broke up after that rejection. The band almost literally you know broke up and just went their own separate ways. Can you imagine you know again how would the world be different if they had taken that rejection as a permanent failure instead of just a smack in the face that they need to shake off and carry on with their lives? So you know one of the things people also don't realize about the Beatles is, by the time they cut their big break in 1964 they had already played together as a group 1200 times. And these were generally live shows that they did either in their local area or down in Germany where they would literally do two sometimes three shows a night where they would just sit there and play and this was not you know, “Hey, the Beatles are here. Come and see the Beatles.” No, this was like - hey, you're in a bar and these guys in the corner are playing music. Hope you like it. It's free right. So that’s how they busted their chops early on. That's how they got good. That's how they they went through their process of learning and as the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell talks about, in fact this was one of the ways that they got their 10,000 hours of experience. Whether they agree with that premise that 10,000 hours can make you a world-class expert or not, it worked in their case and it's undeniable that they definitely had the skills.


19:54 (According to Albert Einstein’s teacher, he would never amount to much.)


Alright, let's move on to another one of my favorites, Albert Einstein. So a lot of people talk about this idea that he wasn't able to be verbal until he was nearly four years old. And one of his teachers, I believe he was around seven, basically told his mom that he would never amount to much. And you know what, first of all, what kind of a jerk tells that to a parent right? This kind of attitude, I don't have a great deal of empathy for to begin with. So don't be a jerk, teacher! But whoever it was, was wrong. Quite wrong. So a lot of people don't realize that you know Albert Einstein along his way, he excelled at math but struggled at French and chemistry. He dropped out of school at the age of fifteen. He also dropped his citizenship in Germany and became a stateless man. A lot of people don't realize, when he first tried to apply for college entrance exam, he failed right. He was not able to get into college because he failed the college entrance exam. At the age of twenty, his math professor his favorite subject math, referred to him as a lazy dog. And I don't think it was that cool, “Hey, dog! How you doing, dog?” I think it was like, “You're a lazy dog!” It was definitely an insult. Not one of those cool hip kid things. At 21, he graduated, Albert Einstein graduated near the bottom of his class; not the top, the bottom. And he was the only one in his class, his graduating class, with no job offer. Kind of I'm not sure depressed is the right word but certainly out of options, he tried to join the military and he failed his physical right. And at the end, you know after becoming quite famous and after you know putting his theory of relativity and becoming a world-class thinker and you know mathematician where everyone respects that took many many years, but near the end of his life he said something to this effect, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious”. And you know talk about soft-sell and you know brilliance, it really is a classic Awesomer move. You know, just be modest and say, “Hey, I'm passionately curious about things and so I want to just keep finding the answers.” And he faced so much adversity, just like you maybe listening at home. We all face adversity. Don't let your setbacks, temporary setbacks, stand in your way. When you're going through them, they feel like the worst ever and I will share some rock-bottom stories with you in the future but I will tell you - it's just temporary. Go outside, the sun still shines or the rain still falls. Whatever it is, the world keeps going around. Don't get caught up in your head. Albert Einstein also said, “If you've never failed, you've never tried anything new.” And that is certainly one of my favorite types of sayings because one of my axioms, I forget the number is, it'll never work the first time right. And that's part of failure. Just expect it and be comfortable with it. And know that if you want to get good at something, it'll take some time and the application of knowledge and skill and the accumulation of skill, the accumulation of knowledge, all those become equity points in your brain and in your life. It doesn't matter if it's professional, personal - all of it can become equity.


Alright, everybody. This again is Awesomers episode number 71. So go to Awesomers.com/71 to find out more about the famous failures, see the show notes, transcripts, what have you. That definitely is always good when people go to the website, they kind of check out the episodes, that tells Google we're cool. And it's okay to tell Google we're cool because then they promote the site on SEO and other things. So I hope you've enjoyed this. I hope you remember my comments at the beginning about us pivoting into these shorter episode formats so even the long form interviews will be broken up into two or three chunks depending on the time. And this has been another Awesomers episode produced just for you.


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Well we've done it again everybody. We have another episode of the Awesomers podcast ready for the world. Thank you for joining us and we hope that you've enjoyed our program today. Now is a good time to take a moment to subscribe, like and share this podcast. Heck you can even leave a review if you wanted. Awesomers around you will appreciate your help. It's only with your participation and sharing that we'll be able to achieve our goals. Our success is literally in your hands. Thank you again for joining us. We are at your service. Find out more about me, Steve Simonson, our guest, team and all the other Awesomers involved at Awesomers.com. Thank you again.