Since there’s no guide to success, most people go their own way with varying outcomes. Some skyrocket to the top without looking back, while others steadily work to reach their eventual level of success. However, there are some who stumble and hit an all time low along the way. And although it seems like they are in an unrecoverable predicament, they somehow still manage to succeed. Some of the following people are names that you would be surprised to hear had any degree of difficulty. But that just goes to show that misfortune can happen to anyone.
Arguably the funniest man of the 1990s, Jim Carrey earned public adulation by working hard. But before he became a famous Academy Award-nominated actor, Carrey was homeless for some time. Like him, Carrey’s father was an aspiring artist, hoping to become a professional musician while providing for his family with a job as an accountant. However, when Carrey’s father lost his job, his family had to move into a van. This forced Carrey to drop out of high school at 15 and become a janitor to help support his family.
Although he once described it as “a traumatic kick in the guts”, Jim Carrey never allowed this setback to define him. He went on to perform in small comedy clubs in Toronto until he received some exposure in 1979 opening for comedians like Rodney Dangerfield and Buddy Hackett. It took over a decade for his big break, being cast in the Fox television show, In Living Color. This proved to be his gateway into film, and ensuing stardom.
One of the biggest coffee chains in Canada, it would be fair to describe Second Cup as the “Canadian Starbucks”. It’s a remarkable Canadian success story, however it’s a little-known fact that one of the chain’s founders was at one point homeless and panhandling. Frank O’Dea was born in Montreal and an alcoholic at the age of 13, which lead him to having substance abuse issues throughout his teenage years and well into adulthood.
By 1971, at the age of 26, O’Dea pledged to go sober and in a few years had a job selling construction equipment. In 1975, along with business partner Tom Culligan, O’Dea founded Second Cup. Since then, the coffee shop has grown to a tremendous success and so has his career. O’Dea currently focuses on several humanitarian efforts including Street Kids International and the Landmine Foundation, collaborating with people like Colin Powell and Paul McCartney to help those less fortunate.
In the 1968 issue of Sports Illustrated, a surprising name appeared in a feature called “Faces in the Crowd”, about up-and-coming athletes. Vera Wang, then a drama major at Sarah Lawrence College, had just won the senior ladies title at the North Atlantic Figure Skating Championships. When it seemed that she was a shoo-in to compete at the world stage, she failed to make it to the US Olympic team.
After failure there was opportunity. Wang switched gears and took a job as an editor at Vogue for 17 years. She left to join Ralph Lauren for two years, only to resign at the age of 40 to pursue a new venture as an independent bridal wear designer. It took some time, but even in an industry that wasn’t her initial passion, Vera Wang’s name is synonymous with the most sought-after brands in fashion.
No matter how futile things may seem, giving up should never be an option. Take Ernest Garcia, a 60-year-old convicted felon who just recently became a billionaire. He faced a criminal fraud conviction in 1990 due to a small role he had in the Charles Keating scandal, where thousands of bondholders were defrauded. He bounced right back and now runs one of the biggest used auto retailers in the US.
No matter what missteps you’ve taken or how off track you seem to be, potential will always exist. It’s never too late.
Alex Correa | Staff Writer