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Famous People Who Were Fired and Bounced Back

Updated on February 24, 2013

What To Do After You're Fired

In these tough times, layoffs and unemployment have become fairly common. We all know of someone going through tough times - and in many instances, that person is ourselves.

However, I don't think that every firing is necessarily a bad thing. I prefer to look on it as an opportunity. In my book, it's a chance to pursue your dreams and become your own boss. (And if you're curious as to whether that's a good thing, visit The Benefits of Being Your Own Boss.)

Moreover, by way of example, you'll find the stories of some famous people below who went on to tremendous success after being fired. Hopefully their stories will encourage you so that, even if you find yourself selling apples by the side of the road, you'll realize that you're still capable of achieving monumental things.

(Poster available at


Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank

The names of Messrs. Marcus and Blank may not be familiar to you, but the company they founded in 1978 probably is: Home Depot. However, back in the late 1970s, both Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank were executives with another home improvement retailer, Handy Dan Improvement Centers.

In 1978, Marcus and Blank were fired from Handy Dan. Rather than bemoan their fate, the two started Home Depot, opening their first two stores in Atlanta, Georgia in 1979. Today, both men are billionaires. (Blank is also the owner of the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League.)

With approximately $68 billion in revenue, Home Depot now is the largest home improvement retailer in the U.S. As for Handy Dan, it went out of business in 1989.

(Photo Source:; Author/Original Uploader: Enriquecornejo at en.wikipedia.)

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Oprah Winfrey

She is a media powerhouse, one of the most powerful women in business. She is among a handful of celebrities with a one-word name that is known worldwide.

And yet, there was a time when Oprah Winfrey was a young newsanchor for a television station in Baltimore who found herself unceremoniously - quite publicly, in fact - fired from her job after only a few months. Needless to say, she would recover and go on to not just become the queen of daytiime TV, but also a billionaire. (Not to mention a media mogul with her own production company, television network and magazine.)

(Photo by Alan Light.)


Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg is currently recognized as the 11th-richest person in the country, with an estimated net worth of $22 billion - a fortune buit on the financial news and information empire he founded. He also happens to be the Mayor of New York.

However, back in the early 1980s, he was a partner at Salomon Brothers, a Wall Street investment bank. When Salomon was bought out in 1981, Bloomberg was fired. He took his severance package and used it to help form the company that would eventually become Bloomberg L.P., the financial data giant and global news service that now includes a television network and radio rstation, in addition to traditional printed publications.

(Photo Source:; Author: Rubenstein)


J.K. Rowling

If kids have been a part of your life at any point during the last 15 years or so, then you are well aware of J.K. Rowling. The author is known worldwide for her books about a young wizard named Harry Potter (not to mention the phenominally successful movies based thereon). In fact, the Harry Potter books are generally considered to be the best-selling book series of all time, with an estimated 400 million copies having been sold.

However, prior to gaining fame and fortune, she worked as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International. She was purportedly fired after it was discovered that she was spending most of her day writing stories on her computer. Apparently it was worth it, as these days Rowlings' net worth is estimated to be a cool $1 billion.

(Photo by Daniel Ogren.)


This Person Must Be Fired

"In Every Organization There Will Always Be One Person Who Knows What's Going On. This person Must Be Fired."

(T-Shirt available at

Summary of What to Do If You're Fired

In short, a firing doesn't have to be the end of the world. In fact, it should be viewed as an opportunity that you would have bypassed under different circumstances - a door that would otherwise have remained closed. That's what happened to those above and plenty of other famous people: Steve Jobs (fired from Apple - the company he founded! - in the 1980s), Lee Iacocca (fired from Ford Motor Company), etc. As the stories of these people illustrate, resilience under adverse conditions can often lead to rewards you never dreamed of.

(In fact, why wait until you're fired? You can start achieving your dreams right now, and if you need a hint as to how to get started, please visit How to Be More Productive in Your Personal and Professional Life.)

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    • siobhanryan profile image


      8 years ago

      Really interesting lens

    • profile image

      ManfromModesto LM 

      8 years ago

      JK Rowling is a practicing witch. She received the entire first 5 books in an open vision while traveling on a train. Success is not worth your soul!

    • Franksterk profile image

      Frankie Kangas 

      8 years ago from California

      It's interesting to see these people. It appears that some people that make good entrepreneurs are forced by being fired to venture out and make it happen. Loved reading this lens. Blessed. Bear hugs, Frankie

    • NibsyNell profile image


      8 years ago

      Some inspirational individuals... just goes to show you should never give up hope and keep believing in yourself.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      A truly uplifting lens. Thanks.

    • VscorpianC profile image

      Valentina Cabral 

      8 years ago from U.S.A.

      Very interesting and motivational...never give up in life.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow, so great to find amazing lenses like this that "empower" my mind that even those famous, rich people had their own share of getting "fired". So motivating and encouraging! What a Brilliant Lens that was creatively done by you! Great job! May God bless you, my dear friend!

    • KayeSI profile image


      8 years ago

      What an encouraging lens. My grandchild and I especially enjoyed the Home Depot store! :)

    • malena10 profile image


      8 years ago

      I love Oprah!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      8 years ago

      Such good advice.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      These people are truly inspiring. It just goes to show that we must not let anything bring us down.

    • Tonto Murray profile image

      Tonto Murray 

      8 years ago

      Eye opening lens and great inspiration. Blessings.

    • Mandy Stradley profile image

      Mandy Stradley 

      8 years ago from Riverton, Utah

      I loved reading about these amazing and inspirational people. It is always fascinating to learn about someone's background.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      The t-shirt is too funny! I think that being fired or layed off is a pretty standard part of work life these days...very painful, but something you can overcome.

    • piedromolinero profile image


      8 years ago

      An interesting read and great information. I didn't know that all these people were fired before they eventually became successful. But it shows that the way to success is in standing up one more time than falling down.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this list of people who have been canned. I think things like this can really inspire those that are down and out!

    • Rangoon House profile image


      8 years ago from Australia

      This is fascinating. Bravo to these international figures who grew bigger and bolder than most through adversity.

    • OrlandoTipster profile image


      8 years ago


    • profile image

      goo2eyes lm 

      8 years ago

      first stage, mobbing. second stage, firing. when fired, a new door opens so keep your head up high and look forward. blessings for this wondering article/lens.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Very inspiring and encouraging read ~ a positive attitude does so much and helps look at stumbling blocks as stepping stones!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      8 years ago from Ljubljana

      Sometimes best thing it can happen to you is to be fired... Very inspirational:)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow, who would have thought that Michael Bloomberg was once fired. And I loved hearing about the two men that started Home Depot. Very inspiring!

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 

      8 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      Loved this lens! It held my interest right to the end. ~*~Angel Blessings~*~

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This is very inspiring. If they can do it, all of us can also bounce back if anything similar happens to us. We should always be positive and view it as a blessing and an opportunity.

    • profile image

      OliviaDaughter LM 

      8 years ago

      Learned some new information. Good lens. Inspirational.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very interesting to hear about the background of these successful people

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Oh! Oprah! Never knew the story behind her... Very interesting and inspiring read indeed!

    • DuaneJ profile image


      9 years ago

      This made for a very inspiring read this morning!

    • Rankography profile image


      9 years ago

      Outstanding lens and great for everyone to see. I have been fired from a job and it was definitely one of the best things that happened to me. I became a better future employee and my career went down a better path. Blessing to you.

    • squidoopets profile image

      Darcie French 

      9 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      I've never been fired, but I have bounced back after a mental health breakdown

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Fascinating lens. Interesting stories.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Wow.. this is interesting! Thanks for this.. very inspiring! Blessed!

    • bushaex profile image

      Stephen Bush 

      9 years ago from Ohio

      SquidAngel blessings. "You're blessed!" is always better than "You're fired!"

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      9 years ago

      I'm not a fan of Oprah or Mayor Bloomberg. Now it's interesting to learn that J.K. Rowling was a slacker employee. Home Depot is a great company. Good for Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank. Fun lens!

    • Blonde Blythe profile image

      Blonde Blythe 

      9 years ago from U.S.A.

      Interesting and inspirational lens! I really enjoyed it! :)


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