Failing Your Way to Success

Two billionaires who failed their way to success. Part of my ongoing research into personal and business success. Click each portrait to read the full article.

Sara Blakely, Founder of Spanx

She was too short to play Goofy. Then she invented Spanx. Now she’s a billionaire.

Sara Blakely
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My notes from the article on CNN Money:

“Growing up, my dad used to encourage my brother and me to fail,” she said. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was just redefining failure for me. Failure became about not trying, not the outcome.” That mindset, and her experiences, prepared her for the challenges of starting her own business.

“It’s a risk to invent something,” she said. “You have to do something that didn’t already exist, which is scary, because that’s where self doubt is the most prominent.”

As a female entrepreneur, that feeling of doubt can be even more pronounced. “You just imagine everyone else so much smarter, and more qualified than you are. Then, one day you wake up and you go, ‘What if it is me? Why not?'”


John Paul Dejoria, Founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems and Patrón Vodka.

When this billionaire entrepreneur started out, he was living in his car.

John Paul Dejoria
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My notes from the article on CNN Money:

“People realized it’s okay to pay a few dollars more if you treat yourself.

Dejoria says that “success unshared is failure.” “If you don’t take a little bit of your time … to help somebody else out,” Dejoria explained, “you’re not really a successful human being.”

For him, “giving, sharing and caring about others and business go hand in hand.”

He also thinks his achievements would not have been possible without those early difficulties. “A lot of the things that happened that went wrong, really wrong, were experiences and an education,” he said. “That education was priceless.”