Famous People Who Failed At First – II

Public Figures
From politicians to talk show hosts, these figures had a few failures before they came out on top.

Winston Churchill: imagesCAL5A729This Nobel Prize-winning, twice-elected Prime Minster of the United Kingdom wasn't always as well regarded as he is today. Churchill struggled in school and failed the sixth grade. After school he faced many years of political failures, as he was defeated in every election for public office until he finally became the Prime Minister at the ripe old age of 62.

Abraham Lincoln: While today he is remembered as one of the greatest leaders of our nation, Lincoln’s life wasn’t so easy. In his youth he went to war a captain and returned a private (if you’re not familiar with military ranks, just know that private is as low as it goes.) Lincoln didn’t stop failing there, however. He started numerous failed business and was defeated in numerous runs he made for public office.

Oprah Winfrey: imagesCACNS3E5 Most people know Oprah as one of the most iconic faces on TV as well as one of the richest and most successful women in the world. Oprah faced a hard road to get to that position, however, enduring a rough and often abusive childhood as well as numerous career setbacks including being fired from her job as a television reporter because she was “unfit for tv.”

Hollywood Types

These faces ought to be familiar from the big screen, but these actors, actresses and directors saw their fair share of rejection and failure before they made it big.

Charlie Chaplin: It’s hard to imagine film without the iconic Charlie Chaplin, but his act was initially rejected by Hollywood studio chiefs because they felt it was a little too nonsensical to ever sell.

Lucille Ball: During her career, Ball had thirteen Emmy nominations and four wins, also earning the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors. Before starring in I Love Lucy, Ball was widely regarded as a failed actress and a B movie star. Even her drama instructors didn’t feel she could make it, telling her to try another profession. She, of course, proved them all wrong.

Marilyn Monroe: imagesCAJTG3JHWhile Monroe’s star burned out early, she did have a period of great success in her life. Despite a rough upbringing and being told by modeling agents that she should instead consider being a secretary, Monroe became a pin-up, model and actress that still strikes a chord with people today.

Writers and Artists

We’ve all heard about starving artists and struggling writers, but these stories show that sometimes all that work really does pay off with success in the long run.

Vincent Van Gogh: During his lifetime, Van Gogh sold only one painting, and this was to a friend and only for a very small amount of money. While Van Gogh was never a success during his life, he plugged on with painting, sometimes starving to complete his over 800 known works. Today, they bring in hundreds of millions.

Emily Dickinson: Recluse and poet Emily Dickinson is a commonly read and loved writer. Yet in her lifetime she was all but ignored, having fewer than a dozen poems published out of her almost 1,800 completed works.

Steven Spielberg: untitledWhile today Spielberg’s name is synonymous with big budget, he was rejected from the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film and Television three times. He eventually attended school at another location, only to drop out to become a director before finishing. Thirty-five years after starting his degree, Spielberg returned to school in 2002 to finally complete his work and earn his BA.

Stephen King: The first book by this author, the iconic thriller Carrie, received 30 rejections, finally causing King to give up and throw it in the trash. His wife fished it out and encouraged him to resubmit it, and the rest is history, with King now having hundreds of books published the distinction of being one of the best-selling authors of all time.

J. K. Rowling: jkRowling may be rolling in a lot of Harry Potter dough today, but before she published the series of novels she was nearly penniless, severely depressed, divorced, trying to raise a child on her own while attending school and writing a novel. Rowling went from depending on welfare to survive to being one of the richest women in the world in a span of only five years through her hard work and determination.


While their music is some of the best selling, best loved and most popular around the world today, these musicians show that it takes a whole lot of determination to achieve success.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Mozart began composing at the age of five, writing over 600 pieces of music that today are lauded as some of the best ever created. Yet during his lifetime, Mozart didn’t have such an easy time, and was often restless, leading to his dismissal from a position as a court musician in Salzberg. He struggled to keep the support of the aristocracy and died with little to his name.

Elvis Presley: As one of the best-selling artists of all time, Elvis has become a household name even years after his death. But back in 1954, Elvis was still a nobody, and Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, fired Elvis Presley after just one performance telling him, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”

The Beatles: Few people can deny the lasting power of this super group, still popular with listeners around the world today. Yet when they were just starting out, a recording company told them no. The were told “we don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out,” two things the rest of the world couldn’t have disagreed with more.

Ludwig van Beethoven: In his formative years, young Beethoven was incredibly awkward on the violin and was often so busy working on his own compositions that he neglected to practice. Despite his love of composing, his teachers felt he was hopeless at it and would never succeed with the violin or in composing. Beethoven kept plugging along, however, and composed some of the best-loved symphonies of all time–five of them while he was completely deaf.


While some athletes rocket to fame, others endure a path fraught with a little more adversity, like those listed here.

Michael Jordan: imagesCABIL7R4Most people wouldn’t believe that a man often lauded as the best basketball player of all time was actually cut from his high school basketball team. Luckily, Jordan didn’t let this setback stop him from playing the game and he has stated, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Stan Smith: This tennis player was rejected from even being a lowly ball boy for a Davis Cup tennis match because event organizers felt he was too clumsy and uncoordinated. Smith went on to prove them wrong, showcasing his not-so-clumsy skills by winning Wimbledon, U. S. Open and eight Davis Cups.



Famous People Who Failed At First. – I

Not everyone who’s on top today got there with success after success. More often than not, those who history best remembers were faced with numerous obstacles that forced them to work harder and show more determination than others. Next time you’re feeling down about your failures in college or in a career, keep these famous people in mind and remind yourself that sometimes failure is just the first step towards success.

Business Gurus

These businessmen and the companies they founded are today known around the world, but as these stories show, their beginnings weren’t always smooth.

Henry_Ford_400 Henry Ford: While Ford is today known for his innovative assembly line and American-made cars, he wasn’t an instant success. In fact, his early businesses failed and left him broke five times before he founded the successful Ford Motor Company.

R. H. Macy: Most people are familiar with this large department store chain, but Macy didn’t always have it easy. Macy started seven failed business before finally hitting big with his store in New York City.

Soichiro Honda: The billion-dollar business that is Honda began with a series of failures and fortunate turns of luck. Honda was turned down by Toyota Motor Corporation for a job after interviewing for a job as an engineer, leaving him jobless for quite some time. He started making scooters of his own at home, and spurred on by his neighbors, finally started his own business.

Akio Morita: You may not have heard of Morita but you’ve undoubtedly heard of his company, Sony. Sony’s first product was a rice cooker that unfortunately didn’t cook rice so much as burn it, selling less than 100 units. This first setback didn’t stop Morita and his partners as they pushed forward to create a multi-billion dollar company.

Bill GatesimagesCA5BGSVS Gates didn’t seem like a shoe-in for success after dropping out of Harvard and starting a failed first business with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen called Traf-O-Data. While this early idea didn’t work, Gates’ later work did, creating the global empire that is Microsoft.

Harland David Sanders: Perhaps better known as Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, Sanders had a hard time selling his chicken at first. In fact, his famous secret chicken recipe was rejected 1,009 times before a restaurant accepted it.

Walt Disney: imagesCA11BT3K Today Disney rakes in billions from merchandise, movies and theme parks around the world, but Walt Disney himself had a bit of a rough start. He was fired by a newspaper editor because, “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” After that, Disney started a number of businesses that didn’t last too long and ended with bankruptcy and failure. He kept plugging along, however, and eventually found a recipe for success that worked.

Scientists and Thinkers

These people are often regarded as some of the greatest minds of our century, but they often had to face great obstacles, the ridicule of their peers and the animosity of society.

Albert Einstein:untitledMost of us take Einstein’s name as synonymous with genius, but he didn’t always show such promise. Einstein did not speak until he was four and did not read until he was seven, causing his teachers and parents to think he was mentally handicapped, slow and anti-social. Eventually, he was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. It might have taken him a bit longer, but most people would agree that he caught on pretty well in the end, winning the Nobel Prize and changing the face of modern physics.

Charles Darwin: In his early years, Darwin gave up on having a medical career and was often chastised by his father for being lazy and too dreamy. Darwin himself wrote, “I was considered by all my masters and my father, a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard of intellect.” Perhaps they judged too soon, as Darwin today is well-known for his scientific studies.

Isaac Newton: Newton was undoubtedly a genius when it came to math, but he had some failings early on. He never did particularly well in school and when put in charge of running the family farm, he failed miserably, so poorly in fact that an uncle took charge and sent him off to Cambridge where he finally blossomed into the scholar we know today.

Socrates: Despite leaving no written records behind, Socrates is regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of the Classical era. Because of his new ideas, in his own time he was called “an immoral corrupter of youth” and was sentenced to death. Socrates didn’t let this stop him and kept right on, teaching up until he was forced to poison himself.

These inventors changed the face of the modern world, but not without a few failed prototypes along the way.

Thomas Edison:imagesCALOPUOW In his early years, teachers told Edison he was “too stupid to learn anything.” Work was no better, as he was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. Even as an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Of course, all those unsuccessful attempts finally resulted in the design that worked.

Orville and Wilbur Wright: Wright brothers battled depression and family illness before starting the bicycle shop that would lead them to experimenting with flight. After numerous attempts at creating flying machines, several years of hard work, and tons of failed prototypes, the brothers finally created a plane that could get airborne and stay there.


Life of Jagadishchandra Bose, Great Scientist

The Parents

Jagadishchandra Bose was born on the 30th of November 1858 in Faridpur in Dacca District. Faridpur was a part of India until 1947; now it is in Bangla Desh. His mother Abala Bose was a tenderhearted and affectionate woman. His father Bhagawanchandra Bose was a man of excellent qualities.

Early Education

As long back as a hundred year ago, Bhagawanchandra Bose started schools in which children were taught in Bengali. Jagadishchandra also received his early education in this school. Jagadish mixed with the poor boys freely and played with them; so he gained first hand knowledge of the sufferings of poor people.

There was another interesting person in his early life. This was a servant who used to take Jagadishchandra to school every day. He had been a dacoit in the past. Bhagawanchandra Bose as a judge had sent him to prison. After some time the dacoit came out of prison. But how was he to live? Bhagawanchandra Bose was a very good-natured man. So he employed him as a servant. The dacoit used to tell little Jagadishchandra. events of his past life the robberies he had committed and his cruel deeds. His adventures made a lasting impression on the boy.

Young Bose was all curiosity. He wanted to know about everything that happened around him. What is, a glow-warm? Is it fire or spark? Why does the wind blow? Why does the water flow? He was always ready with a string of questions. His father would answer as many questions as he could. But he never tried to impress upon his son that he knew everything. If he could not answer a question, he would frankly tell his son so. Thus Jagadish chandra’s parents took great interest not only in his studies but also in everything that shaped his character.

In Calcutta

Jagadishchandra began a new chapter in his life at the age of nine. He had to leave his hometown. He went to the big city of Calcutta for further education. He was admitted to Saint Xavier School there.

While he was studying at Saint Xavier’s, Jagadishchandra was staying in a boarding house. He had no friends and was lonely here. But he was a born scientist. Even as a boy he had many hobbles which showed his scientific interest. He used to breed frogs and fishes in a pond nearby. He would pull out a germinating plant and observe its root system. He had also a number of pets like rabbits, squirrels and non-poisonous snakes. Even in Calcutta he continued these hobbies to get over his solitude. He grew flower-bearing plants and had animals and birds as pets. He did well in his studies and was in the forefront. The teachers liked him for his intelligence. Jagadishchandra passed the School Final Examination in the First Class.

He joined the B.A. class in the college. In those days, science subjects formed a part of this course. He was most interested in Biology (the science of life). But Father Lafont, a famous Professor of Physics, inspired in Bose a great interest in the science of Physics and Bose became his favourite student. Even so, Bose was always interested in any branch of science. Botany, the science of plants, still attracted him much.

In London

By nineteen, Jagadishchandra was a Bachelor of Arts. He wanted to go to England for higher studies. Finally, his good mother allowed him to go. She had saved some money. She also wanted to sell her jewels to meet the expenses of her son’s voyage. Bhagawan chandra Bose prevented her and he managed to find the money on his own.

At last Jagadish was on his way to England. The year was 1880. Twenty- two-year-old Jagadishchandra Bose stepped into the ship; he was stepping into a new phase of life which laid the foundations of a brilliant future.

In London he first studied medicine. But he repeatedly fell ill. So he had to discontinue the course. He then studied Natural Science in Christ Church College, Cambridge. It was necessary to learn Latin in order to study Natural Science; Jagadish had already learnt it. He passed the Tripos Examination with distinction. In addition to the Cambridge Tripos Examination, he passed the Bachelor of Science Examination of London University also.

The Young Scientist  His Own Smith, Too

Jagadishchandra Bose was back in India. He joined the staff of the Presidency College, Calcutta. There was a peculiar practice in that college. The Indian teachers in the college were paid one third of what the British teachers were paid! So Jagadishchandra Bose refused his salary but worked for three years. This did not continue for long. His deep knowledge zest for work and cultured behavior won over those in charge of the college. They saw to it that he was given the full salary of the post and not one-third.

Teaching the same lessons year in and year out was very tedious to Bose. His was an alert mind, always on the look out for new ideas. He wanted to do research, to widen his knowledge and discover new things.

A laboratory is necessary for research. Many scientific instruments are required. Jagadishchandra Bose had no laboratory and he did not have the instruments. But he was not disheartened. For eight or ten years he spent as little out of his salary as possible, lived a very strict life, saved money and bought a laboratory!

Generally Marconi’s name is associated with the invention of wireless. (This made possible the use of the radio.) Jagadish chandra Bose had also conducted independent research in the same field. Marconi was able to announce the result of his work and show how wireless telegraphy worked, earlier than Jagadishchandra Bose. So he is called ‘the father of the radio’. In the year 1896 Bose wrote a research article on electro-magnetic waves. This impressed the Royal Society of England (which is famous all over the world). He was honoured with the Degree of Doctor of Science.

Bose became famous in the world of science. In India and in other countries there was a strong belief that only Westerners could achieve anything worthwhile in science. Bose proved this wrong concept. He showed that there were geniuses elsewhere too. He visited England again, this time to explain his discoveries to the scientists of the West.

Bose needed scientific equipment. But the instruments he needed were not available. But this did not hamper his work. Early in his life he had learnt to make his equipment with his own hands. The scientific instruments he took to England were those he himself had made.


After he lectured at the Royal Society, scientific associations in many other countries invited Jagadishchandra Bose. He visited France, Germany, America and Japan besides England. He lectured at several places and explained his discoveries.

When electricity passes through a man, animal or plant, we say there is a ‘shock’. When it is passed through a living being the being gets excited, ‘irritated’. Bose developed an instrument that would show such a reaction of the organism on a graph. When electricity was passed through zinc, a non-living substance, a similar graph was obtained. So he came to the conclusion that living and non-living things were very similar in certain reactions.

In Paris he gave a lecture on this similarity between the living and the non-living world. Have you heard of ‘radar`? This is a very wonderful scientific device. Sailors on the sea use it; it is also used to get information about aeroplanes coming towards a place. So you see how useful it is during a war. If the aeroplanes of the enemy try to attack a city, the radar shows their movement. J.C. Bose worked out some details of very great importance; these are being used in the working of the radar. When Jagadish chandra Bose again visited England, Cambridge University honoured him as a Professor.

Generally, when a man invents something new he declares that nobody can make use of it without his permission. If anybody desires to, make use of it, he will have to pay him money, Why? Because the inventor has worked hard and he has used his time and brains for his invention. It is not right to make use of his work without paying him. An inventor can make lakhs of rupees by just one or two inventions. Bose had invented many instruments. They have since been used by many industries. When he was offered money for these he did not accept it. He was very generous and noble; he felt that knowledge was not any one’s personal property. He permitted any one the use of the fruits of his work.

 When an outside stimulus is applied to the muscles of a man or a non-living thing (says a mineral), they respond to it. Bose wondered whether this could happen in a plant also. To test this he brought a leaf, a carrot and a turnip from the garden. He applied the stimulus, i.e., and electricity. It was confirmed that plants also respond in a similar way. Jagadishchandra Bose explained this at a meeting of the Royal Society.


When anything new is discovered, there will always be people who question it. The results of Bose’s work, too, were not accepted by all. There were people who challenged them and even said that there was not much truth in them. Bose gave a lecture at the Linnean Society next year to a gathering of scientists. He explained with suitable experiments how plants respond to stimuli. Even those who had challenged him could not find fault with his experiments or conclusions.

There is an interesting story about a demonstration that Bose gave in England. On that day he wanted to show some new things that he had found out. He had come to the conclusion that plants can feel pain like animals; that when we pinch them they suffer; and that they die in a few minutes after they are poisoned. Bose wanted to show experiments to prove these conclusions. A number of scientists and other leading men and women had gathered to hear him. Bose started the experiments by injecting poison into a plant. The plant should have shown signs of death in a few minutes. On the contrary, nothing happened. The learned audience started laughing. Even at this adverse moment Bose showed admirable calmness. He thought quickly. The poison that he injected into the plant did not kill it. So, he supposed that it would not hurt him also. With full confidence he got ready to inject the poison into himself. At that instant a man got up and confessed that instead of poison he had put similar colored water. Now, Bose conducted the experiment again with real poison, whereupon the plant withered and died as expected.

Jagadishchandra Bose continued his work and made new discoveries. He found that plants shrink a little during the night. He found out why plants always grow towards light even if they have to bend. He also found out the reason why some plants grow straight and some do not. He explained that this was due to the ‘pulsation’ in plants. This pulsation quickens by heat and slows down by cold in plants.

Jagadishchandra Bose did remarkable work, – and scientists outside India had honoured him. Yet there were people who opposed him. As a result even the Royal Society delayed publishing his valuable work in its publications, But nothing could make him give up his work. He was sure that years of research had led him to the truth. So he did not feel that it was very necessary to depend on scientific journals only. He wrote books and published them on his own.

The Questioning Boy – The Great Scientist

Nature had always been a source of attraction right from his early age to Bose. There are flowers on plants; flowers give fruits; the leaves fall off; seeds germinate into new plants – we see all these around us.

But Bose was interested in these happenings, which to many people seem quite ordinary. He asked others questions; he asked himself, too: ‘How do these things happen?’ Not always could he satisfy his curiosity. But it was his way to try to find answers to any questions arising in his mind.

Scientist And Man Of Letters

Jagadishchandra Bose was famous as a scientist. He brought laurels to his motherland. But his interests were many-sided. He was especially interested in literature and fine arts. The great poet Rabindranath Tagore and Jagadish chandra Bose were very good friends. The first time Tagore visited Bose, he was not at home. Tagore left a bunch of champak flowers. This was the beginning of their friendship.

Tagore invited Bose to stay with him for some time. Bose agreed to do so on one condition. The condition was that Tagore should narrate a story to him every day. This is how a number of Tagore’s stories  came to be written. Have you read the story ‘The Cabuliwallah’? It is very fine story; it narrates how a deep and strange friendship grew up between a rough pathan and a tine Bengali girl. This has been translated into several languages and is well known in a number of countries. Tagore wrote this story when Bose was staying with him.

Jagadishchandra Bose died in November 1937. To the very end he was busy with research. Wealth and power never attracted Jagadishchandra Bose. He toiled for science like a saint, selflessly. This great scientist is a great example to all.


Life after near-death

Times Review profiles extraordinary people who refused to let life-altering mishaps get them down


Earlier this month, a 20-yearold girl showed Mumbai an act of incredible courage. Sneha Kale, on her way home after giving an exam, fell off an overcrowded local train; her right leg, which was crushed under the wheels, had to be amputated immediately. The very next day, the spunky girl went to write her next paper. “And why not?’’ she asks, “I had prepared, and I was confident of doing well.’’


Sneha is casual about her decision to not wallow in self-pity. “My parents are the emotional kind,’’ she says. “If I am not brave, they’ll break down. In any case, I need to live and to work. And in order to work, I need to get on with life. It as simple as that.’’
—Ketan Tanna 

Joginder Singh Saluja, aka Bittoo, has won the Mr India national title in body-building and power-lifting pageants for three consecutive years. The fact that his powerful biceps completely obscure his lifeless lower limbs comes as a reassurance to many that nothing is impossible. 

When he was barely ten months old, Bittoo contracted polio which left both his legs damaged. “I underwent 10 operations till the age of 14, after which I hit the gym,’’ he says. “People made fun of me when I held the dumbbells for the first time. The more they laughed, the more motivated I felt. I can now lift about 150 kg bench-press. Assi ta cheetein haan, kise toh nahi darde (I am as tough as a cheetah. I fear nothing). Just try really hard, and you can get what you want in life,’’ says Bittoo who now wants to set up a gym for the physically handicapped.
   —Neha Pushkarna




Rathi’s spinal cord was ruptured when the wheels of the train ran over her right arm, severing it from her shoulder. And as she lay there unable to move, she saw another train approaching on the same track. “Unable to move, I couldn’t do a thing even as I saw it running over my leg,’’ she says. After the train passed, another train driver shunting an engine spotted her and shifted her to hospital.

“I had just finished writing my income-tax exams then. The doctors had given up hope, and said I would remain bedridden all my life. I don’t know if you can call it a miracle, but a few months after the surgery I actually recovered and began to live like everybody else.’’

   Menon acquired an artificial leg, and switched to using her left hand. Initially it was difficult, but she overcame every difficulty with her sheer grit—she wrote three exams after the accident, topped in all and went on to become inspector of income-tax.
   —Prashant G N



The day is still etched vividly in the 22-year-old’s memory. “It happened on August 12, 2002,’’ she says. “Rajesh was my neighbour and I had rejected his advances. I was on my way to school when he threw acid on me. It burnt my face, head and chest. I lost my eye and ear in the attack.’’ The expense of Shruti’s surgeries almost crippled her father, a tailor, but they got by with funds from NGOs. She then worked with a bank as a telemarketer for a while but is now looking for a job.


Shruthi discontinued her studies because of her medical problems but managed to pass her tenth-standard exam with the help of her parents. “Initially I found it tough and used to be very upset but thanks to my family I have managed to deal with whatever came my way. Now I feel I am normal. All I can say is one should live in the present,’’ she says.
—Ketan Tanna

Published in: on June 29, 2008 at 11:22 am  Comments (3)  
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From College drop out to MBA earning 12 lakh p.a.

Here I am — this is me — there’s nowhere else on earth I’d rather be.”

I can identify with Bryan Adam’s lyrics now, but I wasn’t exactly singing the same tune a few years ago.

I’m 30 years old and come from an upper middle-class family. The only child of my doting parents, sports and music were my passions when I was growing up — as for academics, I loathed the very sight of my school and college books. Still, I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree in History from the University of Mumbai, went on to do my MBA and today hold a cushy position in a media company. Regular story, right? With one minor difference — I dropped out of college at the age of 17 and picked up the pen once more only at the age of 24, seven years later. Here is my story.

I passed out of school in 1993, a mere one percent extra responsible for my Class I grade. My parents were reasonably well-off and only wished for me to graduate from college before starting out upon a career — any career — of my choice. Only, at the age of 15, I wasn’t ready to take my future seriously. I attended college for two years and had enough of it. So I did what most youngsters with a foolish head on their shoulders do — I dropped out of college after my HSC examinations, in 1995.

I began to look around for a job, but I didn’t give anything much of a chance before voicing my distaste and moving onto something else. I soon gave up looking altogether and began to spend my days as I chose, hanging out with friends and doing what teenagers do. Looking back, maybe I was a little disillusioned as well, because the two things I loved — sports and music — didn’t seem to be working out for me. A knee injury in my teens had put to rest my dreams of a career in cricket and as for music, if you’re under the Western influence, you can forget about a successful career here in India.

The years wore on and I did nothing with my life — 17, 18, 19 years of age. The teenage years were gone and with their departure arrived a hint of good sense. I slowly began to realise that my parents were supporting me at an age when I should have been supporting them. Going to my mother everyday for a mere 50 rupees for motorcycle fuel translated from a routine into a nightmare. She never ever said anything, but her look was enough. I became desperate to do something, anything, that would allow me the tiniest bit of financial independence.

Being a guitar player, I had always wanted to do something in music. Now, with the illusions of grandeur finally vaporised, I began to visit a music studio for advertisement, jingle and radio recordings, earning 500 bucks a day for a gruelling 8-hour shift. It was enough to sustain me then, but it’s not a very pleasant memory now. I was 20 and a cool youngster musician. Nothing could go wrong. I joined a rock band — all of us were focused on making it big, but none of us had a clue as to how we would go about establishing a reputation. We played at college fests, restaurants and corporate parties. We used to make Rs 1000 each per gig and we played two or three gigs a week.

At the age of 20, I was making between Rs 8000-10,000 a month through music. I was glad not to rely on my parents anymore, but a serious career was nowhere on the horizon. I could afford a couple of meals at a nice restaurant and buy a set of imported guitar strings once in a while, but not much byond that.

A few months down the line I was introduced through a friend to someone who owned a recording studio. He was looking for someone to handle assignments at the studio — a recording engineer. I had no sound engineering background, so I was taken aback when I was offered the job — I took it up anyway. I was hired at a salary of Rs 3500 per month, but I could continue my gigs with the band alongside. Still, I was dissatisfied. I couldn’t figure it out — I had a job, was making a little money in music and still had this yearning within me to do something worthwhile.

Then it happened, in the year 2001. I attended a school friend’s wedding and was looking forward to meeting long-lost pals from my boyhood days. That wedding changed my life and my haphazard career — if I can call it that — forever. The friends I met weren’t the ones I knew in school. They had changed a lot. Some had joined their fathers’ businesses and many were studying abroad at world-famous business schools. The internship money that they were making per month was more than my annual salary. I suddenly felt like I was a misfit. Not that they made me feel that way, but they were all educated, grown-up individuaIs — and I wasn’t.   

I didn’t know what to do. I got home that night with my mind in a tizzy — was it too late for me? Was I going to be a wasted dropout, making a buck here and a buck there, all my life? When the next day dawned, I was still awake and I had arrived at a conclusion — I was going to try and salvage my academic career. Maybe I would succeed, maybe I wouldn’t. Realistically speaking, it had been seven years since I had opened a book and the thought of studying again curled my toes.

But I did it anyway. I went to Mumbai University and filled out the distance education admission forms — luckily, it was the month of May and I could enroll for the coming academic year. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to pursue as a serious career, but I wanted to become a graduate for sure. “Graduation is a must,” as Mom always says. The two years in college before I dropped out, I was a commerce student. However, subjects like economics and accounts had never been my cup of tea and my favourite subject in school had been history. So I would pursue history. 

I kept earning Rs 3500 per month at the recording studio, kept studying and kept pacifying myself — ‘It’s never too late’ became my mantra. I struggled with my books as I had not read one in seven years and now I had a job to balance alongside. But for the first time in my life, I decided I would follow through with something I had taken up. Looking back, I don’t think anyone at home expected me to go through with it all the way, but my parents were supportive nontheless. 

The day of the FYBA results was the day of reckoning. When my marksheet was thrust in my hand and I saw that I had passed, albeit with a Second Class, I couldn’t believe it. “One down, two to go,” I thought to myself. With a lot of difficulty, I got through the second year and then, finally, took my final exams for BA. I became a graduate in 2004, a History Major from the University of Mumbai. 

When I received my certificate, I was on cloud nine. My parents were overjoyed — it was all they had ever hoped I would accomplish academically. I started applying for jobs in the media industry, lower executive positions. After all, I was now a graduate and no longer a misfit. Or was I?

I soon realised that most company peons were graduates — and an arts background was scoffed at. But I had come so far — I wasn’t going to stop here. If there was anything I had learned from the three years I spent graduating, it was never give up. I began to explore further academic options. I had heard of executive MBA courses offered by leading b-schools for working candidates, but how was I going to get into one of these institutions? I was a graduate, but you needed to be a brilliant student to even be considered and nerve-wracking entrance tests had to be given before any school worthy of mention would accept you.

All I could think of was the 6000 rupees I was earning per month. My girlfriend made more than me and it scared me to think that after three brain-busting years of studying I was only an average candidate among millions, looking for a dream job that would never come at this rate. Finally — and I think that this was a gift straight from heaven, in appreciation of my committment to graduating — I heard of a management course offered by a prestigious institute that was tailor-made for me. You didn’t need to give an entrance exam, all you needed was to be a graduate and to have four years of work experience at a junior position. 

Moreover, this was only the second year that the course was being offered — it hadn’t existed up until I was in my last year of college. A two-year post-graduation diploma in management, recognised by the country’s leading companies. The fees were hefty, but I took a loan from a bank — I wasn’t about to burden my parents with paying for something I didn’t know I could accomplish. Graduation was one thing — a management diploma from a leading b-school quite another. Accounts and economics were compulsory subjects in the first year! How was I going to do this? But I knew I had to try.

With my arts background, I had to sign up for tutorials in accounts. Through the week I would attend early morning lectures at the institute before heading off to my job, then weekends I had my tuition. I’ll never forget the first day of the course. I walked into class in jeans and a tee-shirt, only to find 50 students in formalwear, complete with jackets and ties, awaiting the professor! There was no one there without a laptop — the syllabus stipulated that you had to have one. If you didn’t own one, the institute would loan you a laptop for a fee, for the duration of your course. This certainly wasn’t Mumbai University!

“All this just for a post-graduate diploma?” I wondered. It wasn’t even a degree course. My friends later explained that many private b-schools didn’t offer degrees for the simple reason that they are not recognised by Mumbai University. But the diplomas are recognised by companies and that’s all that matters. A diploma from a reputed private b-school is equivalent to a degree from a university-recognised institute .

To say that I worked hard for my exams would be an understatement. This time around, I was determined that I wouldn’t just scrape through — I would do my best. And I did — each semester saw me pass with a Class I grade and last year I obtained my PGDBA, specialising in marketing.

Today I have a job I love with a well-established media company. My days in the studio and my music also paid off — I help prepare jingles, promos and advertisements for corporate giants. My package is Rs 12,00,000 per year. I often wonder where I would have been on the corporate ladder if I hadn’t dropped out of college, but I regret nothing. I’m earning well, my parents are happy and I’ve done what I set out to do — study hard and pursue my dream career.

Source: redif.com



Published in: on June 21, 2008 at 6:23 am  Comments (1)  
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Let us Inspire Minds to Change Lives

Dear Friends,

This blog consists of real life stories of people who have  achieved great success in life after a great struggle. My idea is to inspire youth of this country ‘to do something’.    I wish to make available inspiring stories of success of people at one place so that they can be accessed easily by youth.

 Let us get inspired from their deeds. We must inspire our minds so as to change this World.