Harvey Mackay: Success usually follows an embarrassing setback

J.C. Penney, founder of the retail giant that bears his name, once evaluated one of his young clerks, stating he "wasn't thorough and wouldn't have much of a future in the retail business." The employee? Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart.

Despite Penney's bleak prediction, Sam Walton built the largest retail empire in the world. The opinions of honest, well-intentioned people sometimes can be off the mark. Don't let misguided judgments keep you from pursuing your dreams.

I love to read about people throughout history who were told they couldn't do something or wouldn't amount to anything and then achieved great success. Never give up your dreams just because someone said something negative about you. It doesn't matter what anyone says; the only thing that matters is what you say and do and think about your ability.

Throughout my life, I've taken it to heart when someone doubts me or says I can't really do something. First, I examine myself and evaluate if I think they are right or wrong. And if I think they are wrong, I grow determined to prove them so.

When I thought about running my first marathon at age 56, many of my friends thought I was crazy. I've completed 10 marathons to date, and two half-marathons during the last two years.


Naysayers said I couldn't buy a struggling, tiny, run-down envelope manufacturing company and turn it into anything. Dozens of years later. we're not just still in business, we're thriving.

If you have a dream that is reachable and you deeply want something and are willing to work to achieve it, the sky is the limit. History has shown us this many times.

At 15, Michael Jordan didn't make varsity on his high school basketball team.

One of Mark Cuban's first jobs out of college was as a salesman at a computer store. However, he was more interested in cultivating new business than running a cash register. After he failed to open the store one day because he was busy with a potential client, his managers cut him loose.

That was the last time he ever worked for someone else.

Lucille Ball was told by the head instructor of the John Murray Anderson Drama School: "Try another profession. Any other."

John F. Kennedy lost the election to be president of his freshman class at Harvard.

Steven Spielberg's mediocre grades prevented him from getting accepted to UCLA film school.


Barbara Walters was told to "stay out of television" in 1957 by a prominent producer.

Bob Dylan was booed off the stage at his high school talent show.

Randy Travis was rejected by every major record label, sometimes twice.

Michael Bloomberg was fired as a partner at Salomon Brothers, which eventually became Citigroup, and used his hefty severance check to start Bloomberg Communications, one of the country's greatest companies.

Julia Child and two collaborators signed a publishing contract in 1953 to produce a book tentatively titled "French Cooking for the American Kitchen." They worked on the book for five years. The publisher rejected the 850-page manuscript. Child and her partners worked for another year, totally revising the manuscript, only to be rejected again. She and her collaborators went back to work, found a new publisher, and in 1961, they published "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," which has sold more than 1 million copies.

Social media has provided seemingly unlimited opportunities for testing your dreams. Musicians and performers credit YouTube for launching careers. Writers self-publish and promote their works through a variety of platforms. Start-up companies have Facebook connections that broadcast their messages to audiences they never could have imagined reaching.

In short, technology has become a productive partner in dreaming.

The only thing stopping you from living out your dreams is you. It takes determination, motivation, confidence, desire, patience, perseverance and hard work. If you can muster all those elements, you will be unstoppable.


Mackay's Moral: You must be wide awake to make your dreams come true.

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