Tim Huffaker 2017

Successful people are driven in their pursuit of a dream, a cause, a purpose, a belief or truth.  Success has never been easy and in most cases involves challenges, discouragement and failure before becoming a reality. 

Salespeople are no different in their quest for success. Often, it is the discouragement or setback that makes you resolute in your objective.  “Success is not found in never falling, but in rising every time you fall.”  You should anticipate, and even welcome, challenges or failures on the road to achieving your purpose, because they will surely come.  Write this sentence down and put it where you can read it every day. You can quote me on this statement; “Successful people meet trials head-on, not with resentment, but with resolve.”

I have listed brief sketches on a dozen people who faced challenges, trials, discouragement and failure in the pursuit of their dreams.  Failure almost seems to be a rite of passage for successful people. Imagine what the world would be, had these people abandoned their aim in the face of opposition.  Be persistent and steadfast as you endure the challenges you will surely face in pursuit of your sales and personal objectives.

Henry Ford: While Ford is known today for his innovative assembly line and American-made cars, he wasn't an instant success. In fact, his early businesses failed and left him broke five times before he founded the successful Ford Motor Company.


Steve Jobs: Apple, the most profitable company in the world, would have never achieved its current success had Steve Jobs not pursued his vision of changing the world.  He was purged from the company he co-founded, humiliated and scorned for his vision. In the eyes of Silicon Valley, he had failed. Jobs used the experience to hone his skills and strengthen his resolve to achieve his dream.


Soichiro Honda: The billion-dollar Honda Company began with a series of failures and unfortunate turns of luck. Soichiro Honda was turned down by Toyota Motor Corporation after interviewing for a job as an engineer, leaving him jobless for some time. He started making scooters at home, and with the encouragement of family and friends, finally started his own business.


Akio Morita: You may not have heard of Morita but you've undoubtedly heard of his company, Sony. Sony's first product was a rice cooker that unfortunately didn't cook rice as well as it burned it.  Selling fewer than 100 units, the product was a failure. This first setback didn't stop Morita and his partners as they pushed forward to create a multi-billion-dollar company.


Bill Gates: Gates didn't seem like a shoe-in for success after dropping out of Harvard and starting a failed first business with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen called Traf-O-Data. While his first company failed miserably, his second company Microsoft, has impacted the lives of almost everyone in the modern world.


Harland David Sanders: Perhaps better known as Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, Sanders had a hard time selling his chicken at first. In fact, his famous secret chicken recipe was rejected 1,009 times before a restaurant in Salt Lake City accepted it.


Walt Disney:  Today, Disney rakes in billions from merchandise, movies and theme parks around the world, but Walt Disney himself had a bit of a rough start.  As unbelievable as it seems, he was fired by a newspaper editor because he lacked imagination and had no good ideas. After that, Disney started a number of businesses that didn't last long and ended with bankruptcy and failure.  He kept plugging along, however, and eventually found a recipe for success.

Thomas Edison: In his early years, teachers told Edison he was "too stupid to learn anything". Work was no better, as he was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. Even as an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Of course, all those unsuccessful attempts finally resulted in the design that worked.

Abraham Lincoln: While today he is remembered as one of the greatest leaders of our nation, Lincoln's life wasn't so easy. In his youth he went to war as a captain and returned a private; Lincoln didn't stop failing there. He started numerous businesses that failed and was defeated in all but one election for public office.

Oprah Winfrey: Oprah is one of the most iconic faces on TV as well as one of the richest and most successful women in the world. Oprah faced a hard road enduring a rough and often abusive childhood as well as numerous career setbacks including being fired from her job as a television reporter because she was "unfit for TV".

  1. K. Rowling: Rowling may be rolling in a lot of Harry Potter dough today, but before she published the series of novels, she was nearly penniless, severely depressed, divorced, trying to raise a child on her own while attending school and writing a novel. Rowling went from depending on welfare to survive, to being one of the richest women in the world in a span of only five years through her hard work and determination.

Michael Jordan: Most people wouldn't believe that a man often lauded as the best basketball player of all time was actually cut from his high school basketball team. Luckily, Jordan didn't let this setback stop him from playing the game.  He 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 have been successful.”