Why the Best Success Stories Often Begin With Failure

One writer’s unexpected bout of unemployment inspired him to catalogue the misadventures of those who came before him

(Illustration by Lisel Ashlock)
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Knowing about a hero’s early flops and foibles might disillusion some fans, but Fiegerman finds comfort in rough beginnings. “The only thing that would have disappointed me is if I’d researched all these guys and women and found out that they got it right on the first try, because, OK, I did not,” Fiegerman says with a laugh.

Like his subjects, Fieger­man found that his own early setback wasn’t permanent. He landed a new job in journalism, and today he works at the tech news website Mashable, covering, appropriately enough, start-up businesses. While he has less time for the blog, he hopes his collection of origin stories will help other young people realize it’s OK to fail.

“I hope some of them benefit from it,” he says. “But if nothing else, I feel like I benefited from it a little bit.”

About Amy Crawford
Amy Crawford

Amy Crawford is a Michigan-based freelance journalist writing about cities, science, the environment, art and education. A longtime Smithsonian contributor, her work also appears in CityLab and the Boston Globe.

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