Failing is important to succeeding. And even the most successful entrepreneurs had to fail before they become wealthy and successful.

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Brittany: Hi, Emma.

Emma: Hi, Brittany.

Brittany: Well, first of all, happy New Year. I know it’s gonna be a little bit, I think we’re gonna be a couple of months in, or at least a month in by the time our listeners hear this, but this is our first time recording since 2021, so let’s hope this year is a little better than the last two. Yes, that’s what I’m hoping for. So to jump right in, we’ve talked about Elon Musk and Steve Jobs before and how they had to fail before they could succeed. In fact, I, think we did one whole episode maybe when we first started the show about, some of the biggest failures of Apple. Apple has failed all the time, and I love that because they also have made amazing products like the iPhone, which I couldn’t live without, so, really good lesson in there. People have to fail before they get successful. So today I wanna talk about other entrepreneurs who also had to fail, you know before they became famous or successful or wealthy. So, one thing I always like to remember is, you know, when I study entrepreneurship, but all, it’s not just entrepreneurship, it’s also in our own lives, right? We’re going to fail a lot. We’re going to make mistakes. So, we really can’t become the best versions of ourself until we make mistakes and learn from them. So that means making mistakes, which nobody really likes doing. So I think these entrepreneurs are not just good examples for how we can be, you know, maybe, you know, innovative and maybe you wanna be a, a business man or woman someday. But I think it’s also a good lesson on just things we can take in our life. So, have you ever eaten a Hershey’s bar?

Emma: I, yes. More than one.

Brittany: So, I am actually not a fan of chocolate, which shocks everybody when they hear it. But I think it’s like, no denying that when you hear of chocolate, especially American chocolate, you think of Hershey. So that’s been a big part of American candy history. So, Milton Hershey, as you might guess, was the creator of the Hershey Bar, and he had a childhood that kind of consisted of moving around a lot. And that’s kind of a common theme. We’ve talked about a lot of entrepreneurs and heroes, and they’re always, you know, moving around or having to deal with these big things. So he went to six different schools before he actually decided to drop out and learn a trade. A trade is like something today, a trade would be like being an auto mechanic or even learning how to be a hairstylist, things like that. So yeah, he wanted to learn a trade, which back then, I guess wouldn’t have been automobiles. I’m trying to think of what a trade would’ve been back then. Maybe

Emma: Like, plumbing or Plumbing, yeah. Electrician or something like that. Yeah.

Brittany: We go with those are good ones. So eventually he got an on or an apprenticeship learning how to make candy, which, how fun would that be, man? Like, most of right. Like, I would probably gain a lot of weight because I love me some candy. I don’t love chocolate, but I love everything else. So, he loved candy, so this was really exciting for him. And later he’s like, you know what? I know enough now I’m gonna open my own candy shop. But he was not good at Ma getting the money to keep it afloat, and it failed miserably. So he did not succeed the first time he tried. But like all good entrepreneurs, he didn’t let that stop him. So he started another candy venture, and this time he focused only on caramels. So this actually reminds me of spec specialization, I can’t even speak today. We talked about before, where you get really good at one thing instead of trying to be good at a lot of things that maybe you’re not an expert on, like focusing on one thing. And for him, this was caramels. So, which is my favorite. That’s my version of Chocolate.

Emma: Yum.

Brittany: So good. So this became a huge success. And I think eventually he sold his business for $1 million. And this is a 1900. So that was a, like, I don’t have my inflation calculator up, but you should try to do that. But a lot of money. And this was before the Federal Reserve, so that was even more money than it would’ve been. Ah, yeah. Wow. So five years later, the first Hershey company factory opened up for business and of course the rest is history. So that’s a good lesson on not only failing, but specialization.

Emma: Yes. And a fun note on the Hershey stuff. So there’s actually the town where the Hershey factory is called Hershey, Pennsylvania. It’s a little bit outside of Harrisburg, which is the capitol. And my husband’s grandpa grew up there and he always talks about how as a kid, the air there actually smelled like chocolate. There were making so much of it. Yeah, right. I’m like, you’re not a huge chocolate fan, but it does still smell pretty good. Oh yeah, absolutely. No, yes. Have to throw that fun fact in there. But moving on to another great example of an entrepreneur that failed is Brian Chesky, who was the founder of Airbnb, which most of us have, have probably used or at least heard of before. But if not, it’s a site that lets people rent out their homes to travelers instead of people having to go to expensive hotels. And there’s all kinds of fun options on there. You can stay on a farm or do all sorts of different, yeah.

Brittany: And there’s some tiny homes on there.

Emma: Tiny homes and cabins. And it’s really fun. We’ve done a lot of traveling that way. but Brian, the founder, Brian Chesky, he was so poor that he couldn’t even pay his rent. And at that point it seemed like he would never be successful until he and the co-founder of Airbnb, whose name I always pronounce wrong, is it Joe Gebbia? Joe Gebbia. Yes. So, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky had the brilliant idea to rent out their apartment to Travelers coming into the Bay Area for a huge conference. And fun fact, we may have said this before, but the reason it’s called Airbnb is because they put an air mattress on the floor Yep. And just rented out their air mattress in their house. So from there, the idea for Airbnb came to them and they turned it into this massive global company that has helped so many people travel for cheaper. And it’s challenged a really corrupt hotel industry Yeah. That a lot of times is working, working with the government and spending a lot of money to block competition. So that’s a constant problem for Airbnb. But I love what they’ve done and I have so much fun traveling and staying with them. So I’m glad those two guys pushed through their hardships.

Brittany: Same. It’s so good to know. I don’t have to deal with like a hotel that I get to deal with a person. Yeah. So, knock on wood, I have never had a bad Airbnb experience, but I’m about to move to Austin and I’m gonna stay in an Airbnb for a month. So knock on wood that it’s a good experience. Cause it’ll be just That’s awesome. Me and Cat. So, another great, person who had to fail first, who’s actually one of my favorites, even though I can’t afford any of his products. So, James Dyson is, in my opinion, one of the most impressive entrepreneurs of the day because he is more of like an inventor. So, he actually kinda reminds me of Ben Franklin in that aspect. He just like, creates gadgets. So he makes, I know that’s gonna sound like crazy, but one of the best vacuums I’ve ever used. I did have a Dyson vacuum once, and he was absolutely amazing. he also created the air blade, which you might, yeah. You know, if you’ve ever used a public restroom, it’s not the regular old air dryers, but you put your hands in and then you like lift them up and it wipes them clean almost with the air. So that was revolutionary though. I have heard it spreads germs, but it does. It’s awesome. So before his vacuum was so important back in the day because it didn’t have a bag. A lot of vacuums are like this now because the other people, you know, took the ideas and, and innovated from them. But it used to be you had like a gross, like weird bag you had to put in your vacuum and it was kind of a pain. So James Dyson comes and he creates a Bagless vacuum and it became, you know, a household staple, but it took 5,127 different prototypes. A prototype is like, before something gets mass produced, like the vacuum you have to make like one example of it or a couple examples of it. So, he did that over 15 years before he had the vacuum he could actually pitch to British retailers where he’s from. Crazy. and I mean, he just kept getting rejected. That’s crazy. Right. But, you know, instead of letting, you know, throwing in the towel as they say, he really believed in his product and he ended up launching it through catalogs in Japan. And that’s what made it a huge success. And then he was able to take that money and do something with it in Britain. So I love that story.

Emma: That’s so awesome. And now he’s making these fancy hair dryers and hair curlers that are.

Brittany: And I can’t afford it.

Emma: Way less damaging. So we’ll have to just wait a few years, Brittany and I, for it to get less expensive, which thankfully capitalism will do that. Yes, exactly. It’s like, a color TV back in the fifties. So eventually we’ll be able to get one. But, another great story of starting out with failure is JK Rowling. It’s Rowling, right?

Brittany: I say Rowling, but I don’t know rowing. I don’t know.

Emma: I truly do not know. But she was the author, or is the author rather of the Harry Potter series, which is one of the most popular kids’ book series ever. And when she wrote Harry Potter, she was a single mom. She was on welfare, she was unable to pay her bills, meaning she was relying on the government to help her. And she jotted down some ideas for Harry Potter during a delay for a train ride. So that’s pretty awesome that she came up with that during the downtime. I know I usually just get frustrated when that happens. But by the early nineties, her mother had died and she had gotten divorced and she was raising a newborn baby on her own, which is really difficult to do. Needless to say. She was going through a dark time. She was dealing with a lot of depression and hard things and her life, like a failure. But she loved to write. So she finished a few chapters of the book and sent it to 12 publishers and no one wanted to publish it. And it’s crazy cuz that’s the story with a lot of books that become super popular and super famous. but she didn’t stop trying. And eventually someone did publish Harry Potter and it became one of the most popular fantasy books of all time. And I know when I was a kid, that was kind of when they were all coming out and people were lining up for the book for midnight.

Brittany: Oh, I read that book in the middle of the night. Yeah.

Emma: Yeah. It was crazy. It was like a huge craze. A whole subculture came up out of it. So pretty cool that she was able to push through all of that and create something that was so huge.

Brittany: Fun fact, I collect really nice replica wands, so I get some for Christmas. That’s awesome. Every year I just got Voldemort’s, which is really, it’s like made out of like a, a bone. It’s not really made out of a bone, but it’s really cool. So, I’m a big Harry Potter nerd. I love it. Nice. So this next person’s name, I’m going to completely butcher Soy Chiro Honda. I think that.

Emma: Actually sounds right.

Brittany: Yeah, right. It does. I think I did. Ok. So he always wanted to work in the auto industry and at 15 he dropped outta school and he got a job at an auto repair shop, which I really like. Cause that kind of shows apprenticeships. Right. He was gonna learn. So then he ended up opening his own branch of this car manufacturing plant, which was associated with the car brand Toyota. So he invented a new car part for Toyota that was just re revolutionary and cheaper to make, but they dismissed his innovation. They’re like, we’re not interested, but he didn’t let that stop him. So when gasoline became, you know, less available after World War II, he found a solution and he created these, it’s called a two-stroke motor. And it didn’t need a lot of gas to operate. And so it was designed for people who actually, they would attach it to their bicycles at first. So, that was the start of, which I think is start of a motorcycle, but don’t Yeah, but don’t, yeah. No, it is. So the Honda Motor Company is how that began. And you might recognize that name. You know, Honda Civics are a really popular car. So, you know, he invented the first motorized bike in 1949 and then we see now that like so many people drive Hondas. So really good lesson on again, how you can fail. But if you give up, think about all these things that wouldn’t have come about if these people just gave up. Yeah. So, yeah. Oh my gosh. Good lesson to learn.

Emma: It’s, totally, there’s so much to learn. There’s one more I’ll throw in here too. A little bonus. Yeah. We didn’t, we didn’t write this up in the notes, but talking about JK Rowling got me thinking, there’s a huge movie out right now. I don’t know if you guys have seen it. It’s called Dune, a really popular movie. And it’s one of the most popular, sci-fi slash fantasy books of all time. And the author of it, I learned about this cuz he’s from Oregon and I’m from Oregon, and he got the idea to write Dune when he visited the Dunes of Florence, which is a town in Oregon. It’s just these massive sand fields. And he got inspired to create this whole world. And the only people that would publish his book was a car manual publisher. So actually went to, is this a completely different business? They’re like, sure, I guess we’ll print your little book. And it ended up becoming one of the most famous books of all time in his genre. So one more of a little fun one, don’t give up. Even if you have to go to a car or manual publishing company to get your book printed, you never know. It could be a huge success. So we will wrap it up there guys. Thank you for listening and we will talk to you all again soon.

Brittany: Talk to you soon.