Wisdom in Failure

Failure is Natures plan through which he hurdle-jumps men of destiny and prepares them to do their work.

As you read through these following real life case studies, learn to understand and identify where and how the unseen hand works.

1. The Hilton Story

Conrad Nicholson Hilton was born in 1887 in San Antonio, Mexico Territory, the second of eight children. His father, an immigrant from Norway, hand built and lost several fortunes in speculative ventures. Their flagship business was a general store which enabled them to build a large home with several bedrooms.

During the panic of 1907, money was scarce. At young ConradÕs suggestion, the Hilton family transformed their home into a modest inn. Each night, Conrad went to the train station to drum up business and for US$1, travellers were given a clean room, meals cooked by Mary Hilton (the mother) and good hospitality. Eventually Conrad purchased his own hotel and after barely surviving the Great Depression, Hilton went on a buying and selling binge, building the Hilton Hotel chain into one of the worldÕs most respected hospitality organizations.

2. The Kim Dae Jung Story

D. J. Kim as he is known was born the second son of a farmer on the tiny island of Ha Eui, Korea. In his early years, Kim grew up without formal schooling except for his passion for books and philosophy. Only in 1937, when his parents moved to Mokpo on the mainland was he able to get a proper education. However, at the end of World War II, when schools were closed, Kim had to start his career in the shipping business. On one business trip to Seoul, Kim saw the suffering of the people caused by bad politics. It was the beginning of a political career that was to see him facing death 5 times, beaten, kidnapped, spent 6 years in prison and 10 years in exile. But the more he was persecuted, the more popular he became. During his years in jail, Kim would teach himself English, devouring the works of Mencius, Plato, Bertrand Russell and Abraham Lincoln. He would carry a pocket dictionary wherever he went and constantly looked up new words. At one point he was actually sentenced to death for treason. But somehow his life was spared when the United States came to the rescue. His sentence was commuted to life in prison and he was later put on a plane for the United States.

It would seem like an irony or destiny that this 3 times failed presidency candidate would finally take over the helm of South Korea.

When Kim stepped into the presidency, South Koreas economy was in deep trouble and was already under the IMF (International Monetary Fund). Yes, everything that he had undergone in his life was meant to prepare him for this moment Ð to lead his country out of the greatest economic crisis since the war.

3. The KFC Story

Colonel Harland D. Sanders was born in 1890, on a farm near Henryville, Indiana. When he was six years old, his father died. His mother then had to work as a seamstress while he cared for his younger brother and sister. It was during that time that his mother taught the young boy the art of country cooking.

Not long after his mother remarried, 12 year old Harland quit school, moved out of his family house and started the first of his many jobs that included farmhand, railroad conductor, fireman, insurance salesman, steamboat operator and much more. Eventually, Sanders opened a successful service station from which he fed travellers his specialty fried chicken at a single table with six chairs.

It seems as though adversity was a constant companion of Sanders. In 1939, his rapidly growing business was burned to the ground. Undaunted, Sanders built another restaurant and motel with a new twist. Anyone wishing to use the pay phone or ladies restroom had to actually walk through a replica of one of his motel rooms. This room-sized advertisement help keep his motel business thriving.

By the time Sanders was earning a comfortable living, another disaster struck. A new highway bypass carried away most of his customers. Business soured quickly, and Sanders was forced to sell his business at an auction. The proceeds were just enough to cover his debts.
Harland Sanders was already 66 years old and had nothing to show for nearly 55 years of labour. Rather than sit back and collect social security, he was determined to find another market niche. His most valuable asset was his secret recipe, which he called Kentucky Fried Chicken. By 1956, Sanders was able to convince about a dozen restaurants to make and sell his chicken and pay him a 4-US cent royalty on each piece they sold.

Buoyed by his modest success, Sanders packed his 1946 pickup truck with a 50 pound band of seasoning and a pressure cooker and took to the road to sign up more Franchisees. By 1960, 400 restaurants in the United States and Canada were cooking Kentucky Fried Chicken. Within four years, the number of outlets approached 650 and annual sales reached US$37 million.
Today there are nearly 10,000 Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants worldwide with more than 200,000 employees and annual sales in excess of US$8.2 billion.

4. The Matsushita Story

Matsushita was the youngest of eight children in a middle-class family. When his father gambled, and lost on commodities, nine year old Konosuke was sent out to be an apprentice in a bicycle shop. As a young adult in his early 20Õs, Matsushita was nervous and sickly. He was neither rich, highly educated, charismatic nor well connected. In his job with an electric utility, he rose to become an inspector which was considered a well regarded position. However, Konosuke decided to quit his job after his boss disagreed with his idea of creating a new kind of light socket. His willingness to take risk led him to decide to manufacture the product himself.

Matsushita began his business in 1917 with savings of 100 yen with four assistants, including his wife, Mumemo. None of the five had the equilavent of a high school education. Not one of them knew how to manufacture an electrical socket.

The Matsushita factory was established inside a two room rented house with a total available space for working and living equaled to 130 square feet. To overcome their lack of technological know-how, they worked long hours, seven days a week. To generate much needed cash, Matsushita and Mumemo have to pawn their clothes and personal items. They worked furiously to build their failing business. Finally his break came. Kawakita Electric, an electrical firm needed new less breakable bases for their electrical fans. They needed them immediately but did not have a source. Matsushita set aside his electrical plug project and made 1,000 insulator plates. The job was labour-intensive and after a while tedious. But Konosuke and Mumemo worked 18 hours a day, seven days a week and they were able to fulfill the order before the dead-line. The managers at Kawakita liked the product, liked the quality and liked the speedy delivery. As a result a second order was placed, this time for 2,000 insulator plates.

From then on, his business grew and grew and he went on to build one of the largest electrical appliance firms in the world which he led for more than 50 years.

Today his business has revenue up to US$42 billion annually and created hundreds of thousands of jobs.

5. The McDonald Story

Ray Kroc was born in 1902 in Oak Park, a neighborhood on Chicagos West Side. He was never particularly attracted to studying. To make ends meet, his mother gave piano lessons at home and it was during that period that Ray learned to play the piano. He started his first business early in life with a few friends by renting a tiny office space to sell musical scores and harmonicas. They were forced to close after only a few months. Later in life, he took up a job as a haberdashery salesman. His career soon came to a dead end and he got a job as a pianist in an orchestra. After getting married, he quickly found another job with Lily Tulip selling paper cups. He then joined W.P. Morgan & Son selling real estate in Florida. He soon excelled in his job and was doing very well until the property market of Florida suddenly slumped! He therefore went back again to selling paper cups for Lily Tulip. It was during this time that Ray met Earl Prince, an engineer who was setting a chain of ice cream parlours. Ray was his paper cup supplier. When Prince asked Ray to be his partner, he sacrificed his lucrative sales job and jumped at the chance. Prince has just developed the Multi-Mixer, a gadget for making milkshakes. Ray became its exclusive marketing and sales agent throughout the country and Prince would manufacture them. Business did not take off very smoothly in the beginning. Furthermore, the first World War was making it hard to get the copper required for the manufacture of the Multi-Mixer. Ray was then forced to shelve this appliance and spent his time selling powdered malted milk instead. As soon as the war ended, Ray took up where he left off and the Multi-Mixer business was soon brisker than ever, especially because of the emergence of new food chains. Ray would attend all the conventions organized by restaurant owners and dairy associations in order to look for new markets. In 1948, his sales reached a record of 8,000 Multi-Mixers.

It was during that time that he noticed two of his clients, the McDonald brothers who operated 8 Multi-Mixers, a rare feat at that time. On a business trip to Los Angeles, Ray Kroc finally saw the McDonalds restaurant for the first time in his life. He couldnt believe his eyes. The car park was jammed with cars and people were lining up at the counter. Ray joined the queue, which kept growing longer and longer.

The next day, Ray met the McDonald brothers, offering to set a chain of restaurants similar to theirs all across the country. They would increase their profits and Ray would maximize his Multi-Mixer sales. Ray was primarily only interested in increasing his Multi-Mixer Sales!
The McDonald brothers pushed back the offer to Ray instead, saying that it would be too troublesome as they were already having enough problems to keep their place going. Thats when Ray Kroc got the contract by the McDonalds giving him the right to build McDonald franchises throughout the United States.

As soon as he got back to Chicago, Ray started looking for land to build the first McDonalds restaurant. A lot of his friends thought that he must be mad to get involved in selling cheap hamburgers. A year after the first McDonalds opened, three other franchise outlets sprouted in California and during the last 8 months of 1956, eight new restaurants were flourishing in different states across the country.

The expansion of the McDonalds empire was phenomenal. In 1988, McDonalds owned 4,177 restaurants in the United States and 21 overseas. Since then, the success of his chain has continued. McDonalds annual sales by then already exceeded US$3 billion!

6. The Michelle Yeoh Story 

Yeoh Choo Kheng, better known as Michelle Yeoh was born in Ipoh, a small town in Malaysia. At a very young age she dreamed to be a ballerina. Unfortunately at the age of 16, her professional dancing career was shattered when she had a serious back injury. She would have given up her dream and become a lawyer instead. But against her doctors advice, this little lass continued to pursue her dreams. She believes that if she cannot dance there must be something else she can do. In 1983 at the age of 21, Michelle became the winner of the Miss Malaysia beauty pageant, Which won the attention of Jackie Chan and the Hong Kong movie industry.

In 1988, after her 5th movie, she married and temporarily retired from the screen. Her marriage was somehow laden with tears and loneliness. It ultimately ended in 1992. Once again, another of her lifes dreams was shattered. But Michelle was not the type to brood over spilled milk. Although she had been absent from the film industry for 4 years, she made a remarkable comeback co-starring with Jackie Chan in Police Story-3: Supercop, the top grossing film in Asia that year.

Michelle soon became the most popular and highest paid actress in Asia with a huge cult following all over the world. As the leading lady in the James Bond movie Ð Tomorrow Never Dies, Michelle fought her way into the hearts of Tinseltown moguls. She is currently the epitome of the lady of the next millenium, one with Beauty, Brain and Brawn.

7. The Parker Story

George Parker left his familys lowa farm to study telegraphy at a small school in Wisconsin. He excelled in his studies and within one year was given a job, teaching classes. To supplement his low salary, Parker became a distributor for a Cincinnati fountain pen company. Frustrated with the low quality of the pens, Parker designed and patented his own ink pen and launched the Parker Pen Company. Today, Parker Pen is a subsidiary of the Gillette Company, which through its Paper Mate, Parker and Waterman product lines, is the worlds leading supplier of writing instruments.

8. The Post-it Story

Arthur Fry always keep losing his paperwork. He was so disorganized and couldnt even keep track of the notes which he wrote himself. One day he discovered that his company, 3M, had invented a glue which couldn't stick very well. In other words, a glue that fail! It could only hold a piece of paper to something but could easily be peeled off. That was what Fry needed to put all his notes in nice order. He later came up with an idea which he presented to his company. The product is called Post-it¨. For the idea, he got 1% of the sale for life. Annually 3M sells over US$100 million worth of Post-it. Fry receives US$1 million a year for it.

9. The Scarlet Letter Story

When the customs house in Boston, Massachusetts changed administrators, Nathariel Hawthorne who worked there was retrenched. He went home that night dejected and almost desperate. He was worried how his family and, in particular, his wife would take the bad news.
Instead of reproaching him when she was told about it, his wife put a pen and a bottle of ink on the table before him. She lit the fireplace and put her arms lovingly around his shoulders. And she said, Now you will be able to write your book. Hawthorne, reassured by his wifes words and actions, went on to write the worlds famous novel The Scarlet Letter.

10. The Tun Daim Story

Almost went bankrupt twice, once in a salt business and the other in a plastic venture.
Born in 1938. Went to London to study Law. At the age of 21, he was called to the Bar. On returning to the then Malaya he practised law and later worked for the government. In late 1960s, he decided to embark on a business career. But he was to meet with failure after failure in his ventures. Only after several years his break came. Today he had been a former Finance Minister and presently the Economic Adviser to the Malaysian Government. Already in semi-retirement, little could he have expected that owing to the Asian economic crisis, he was reappointed as the Finance Minister of Malaysia again, making him the first person in Malaysia to become the Finance Minister twice!

11. The UPS Story

James E. Casey, the founder of UPS (United Parcel Service) had to quit school at the age of 11 to help support the family because of his fathers failing health. The first job that he could find was delivering packages for a department store at a monthly salary of US$2.50. He also worked as a messenger for a telegraph company. At age 15, Casey and two fellow messengers started their own service which he later sold. From delivering by foot, bicycles and motorcycles, he later extended to truck. Today, United Parcel Service has over 340,000 employees worldwide with annual revenues of more than US$22 billion. (1993)

12. The Viagra Story


In the early 1990's, researchers at Sandwich Laboratories of Pfizer Inc. in England
were seeking a new drug for dilating coronary arteries for patients with restricted coronary artery blood flow. They were using an experimental compound (UK-92-480) which blocks the action of phosphodiesterase, an enzyme responsible for the constriction of arteries. It did not work for coronary constriction, So the researchers tried to recall the samples from the test subjects who were reluctant to return them. They were rather curious but later found out the reason why. They discovered that many of the test subjects reported an increase in the frequency and durability of their penile erections. It turns out that the drug blocks phosphodiesterase 5, which is found in the penile arteries, but does not block phosphodiesterace 3, found in the coronary arteries. They shifted their reseach to men with erectile dysfunction, and sildenafil (aka Viagra) was born. (Note: by blocking an enzyme responsible for constriction, the net result is arterial Dilation.)

13. The Wrigley Story

William Wrigley Jr. grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father was a soap Manufacturer and as a young boy he sold Wrigleys Scouring soap from a basket in the streets of the city.
In 1891, at age 29, Wrigley moved to Chicago, Illinois with US$32 and the desire to establish his own business. He started doing what he knew best: selling Wrigleys scouring soap. As an incentive to the grocers, Wrigley handed out baking powder. Soon, the baking powder became more popular than the soap, so he switched to the baking powder business.

By 1892, Wrigley started to offer two packages of chewing gum as a premium with each can of baking powder. Again the premium became more popular than the product that he was promoting, so Wrigley decided to go into the chewing gum business.

Today Wrigley chewing gum is famous all over the world.

14. The 20 Dates Story

Of all the failures in Hollywood, Myles Berkowitz could be the one who lead the pack. He was a multifaceted failure  failed actor, failed writer, failed movie director, failed lover and even a failed waiter.

He finally decided to make use of his two biggest failures in his life his love life and his movie career, by combining them and making it into a film entitled 20 Dates.
Berkowitz shot more than 120 hours of footages of his actual dates, how he fumbled etc... and edited them into a 88 minute movie.

Two of his unsuspecting victims were so upset when they found out that they sued him. Another date let her feelings be known by leaving him nursing a bandaged hand.
At the end of the movie, after 20 dates, he miraculously had a girlfriend and they fell in love all on film. The movie landed a distribution deal with Fox Searchlight and Fox has signed him to make another movie.
... if I was going to go down I wanted to go down fighting... says Berkowitz.

Moral of Stories ..... NEVER EVER GIVE UP !!!

1 comment:

  1. I do hope once time i can be successful like them, ameen!!!!


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