Most people who have jobs worry about getting fired. That’s very odd when you consider that many, if not most, successful people have been fired at one time or another. Are they “geniuses” for it? Here are 21 of them, followed by some important advice.
- Abraham Lincoln was fired from his job as a captain in the army during the 1832 Black Hawk War and reduced to the rank of private.
- Anna Wintour was fired from her job as a junior fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar due to creative differences with the editor-in-chief.
- Bill Belichick was fired from the NFL’s Cleveland Browns before becoming one of the world’s most successful head coaches.
- Howard Stern was fired from his job as a radio personality on NBC when management finally got fed up with his off-color humor.
- Isaac Newton was removed from his job as overseer of his family farm in Lincolnshire after his mother realized that he hated the work.
- J.K. Rowling was fired from her job as a secretary at Amnesty International for using her computer for personal business.
- Jerry Seinfeld was fired from his first job as an actor in the TV sitcom Benson after giving what the producers felt was a lackluster performance.
- Julius Caesar was fired from his job as High Priest of Jupiter for allegedly having a love affair with King Nicomedes of Bithynia.
- Lady Gaga was fired from her first record label which wasn’t prepared to wait another six months for her to create her debut album.
- Lee Iacocca was fired from Ford Motor Company after launching one of the company’s best-selling products, the infamous “Exploding Pinto.”
- Madonna was fired from Dunkin’ Donuts on her first day at work, allegedly for squirting jelly filling on a rude customer.
- Mark Cuban was fired from his job as a salesperson at a retail computer store because he failed to open the storefront one morning.
- Michael Bloomberg was fired after a leveraged buyout of the investment bank Salomon Brothers, where he was a partner.
- Mozart was fired as a musician in the court of the prince-archbishop of Salzburg, an event memorably portrayed in the movie Amadeus.
- Nikola Tesla was fired from his job as a draftsman in Slovenia due to his incessant gambling at cards and mental illness.
- Oprah Winfrey lost her job as a news reporter at a Baltimore TV station because the producer believed she was a bad fit for the job.
- Robert Redford lost his job as an unskilled worker at Standard Oil for accidentally breaking glass bottles and falling asleep on the job.
- Steve Jobs was fired from Apple because his management style clashed with that of his hand-picked CEO, John Sculley.
- Thomas Edison got fired when he accidentally dropped some acid that ate through the floorboards of the laboratory where he worked.
- Truman Capote was fired from his job as a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine allegedly for insulting the poet Robert Frost.
- Walt Disney was fired as a cartoonist for the Kansas City Star newspaper because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”
I put the word “geniuses” in quotes because while some of them were geniuses by any measurement, you would never have heard of them if they hadn’t picked themselves up and tried something different. Genius.
Issac Newton, for instance, might have remained on the farm had his family lacked the connections for him to attend Cambridge. Even Steve Jobs might have slipped into obscurity had he not continued to believe in his vision for the future.
So if you’ve ever been fired, use it as a pink slip of courage. Push forward. Leave your baggage behind you and burn the boats so you’ll never go back. And if you’re in a job that you hate…do yourself a favor and get yourself fired.