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10 Famous People Who Flourished After Being Laid Off

Being fired is by far one of the worst experiences a person can go through, but one thing’s for certain – you’re not alone. Some of the most talented people in Hollywood, politics and sports have been laid off at some point in their careers, but their resilience and strong work ethic helped them move past the loss and keep their eye on the prize. Here are 10 famous people who flourished after being laid off:  

1. Walt Disney

It’s hard to believe that the man who created Mickey Mouse and co-founded one of the biggest motion picture production companies ever faced rejection, but in 1919, Walt Disney was fired from his job at the Kansas City Star because he supposedly lacked imaginative ideas. Disney later set his sights on creating a cartoon series that spurred the mega media conglomerate known as The Walt Disney Company.    

2. Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban wasn’t always a successful Internet mogul and NBA owner. In the ’80s, Cuban worked as a salesman at a computer store, but found himself more interested in working on computers and developing business plans rather than manning a cash register and sweeping the floors. Cuban was laid off, and this was the last time he worked for someone else ever again.    

3. Michael Bloomberg

Billionaire businessman and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg didn’t reach this level of success without failing a little here and there. When Bloomberg was a partner at the investment bank, Salomon Brothers, he and 62 colleagues were fired because the company was bought out. Bloomberg used his severance check to develop his own financial services company, which has made him the 18th richest person in the country.    

4. Oprah Winfrey

Long before Oprah Winfrey became the most successful female talk show host in television history, she was working as a TV news reporter at WJZ in Baltimore. After seven and a half months of co-anchoring at WJZ, Winfrey was pulled off the air because the producer felt she was too emotionally invested in her stories and was "unfit for television news."    

5. Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick may be best known for leading the New England Patriots to several victories, including three Super Bowl championships, but this isn’t the first NFL team Belichick has coached. From 1991 to 1995, Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, but after facing a losing season, Belichick was let go. Although the chances of Belichick getting another head coaching job looked bleak, he got the opportunity to join the Patriots in 2000.    

6. Anna Wintour

Anna Wintour is best known as the successful and cut-throat editor-in-chief of American Vogue. Despite her success, this hard-nosed leader has been laid off before. When Wintour was starting her career as a junior fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar, her work was heavily criticized by editor Tony Mazzola, and she was fired nine months later. Shortly after working at Harper’s, Wintour went on to work at a couple different magazines before landing her spot at Vogue.    

7. Thomas Edison

Today, Thomas Edison is regarded as one of the most prolific inventors in history. However, during Edison’s early years, he was called stupid by his teachers and was fired from his first two jobs for not working hard enough. Despite his failures and firings, Edison went on to invent some of the most remarkable devices like the light bulb, the phonograph and the motion picture camera.  

8. J.K. Rowling

Before J.K. Rowling was writing about wizards and warlocks, the best-selling author was working as a secretary for the London office of Amnesty International. When Rowling’s dreams of becoming a writer got in the way of her secretarial work, she got laid off. Rowling used her severance check to support her as she began to write the book series that would change her life forever.      

9. Lance Armstrong

Cycling star and seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong didn’t always come out on top. In 1997, Armstrong was fired from the French racing team Cofidis while he was undergoing cancer treatment. The team refused to give Armstrong the rest of his salary and medical coverage. Obviously, Armstrong went on to lead the United States Postal Service squad and take home a handful of victories.    

10. Robert Redford

Award-winning actor and director Robert Redford didn’t always shine on the job. When Redford was a teenager he worked as an unskilled worker at Standard Oil. After he got caught falling asleep on the job and making several mistakes, Redford got fired. This incident led the young man to pursue his dreams of going to college and eventually becoming an actor.   This story was first posted in OnlineDegreesHub.com.

This is an article contributed to Young Upstarts and published or republished here with permission. All rights of this work belong to the authors named in the article above.

  • Hock Xiang

    where is steve jobs?

    • Anonymous

      Steve Jobs was already successful during his first tenure in Apple before he was laid off by his board.