10 Famous People Who Were Fired (and the 1 Vital, Free Lesson You Need to Grasp)

famous people who got fired

Are you in danger of getting fired?

Perhaps you have been fired already?

Being fired does not define you as a person, you know. Not by a long shot.

But it can be traumatic.

There is one lesson, however, that you need to learn and apply to ensure you handle a sacking in the right way.

First, though, let’s take a look at some people who were fired from their jobs, and didn’t fare too badly afterwards, shall we?

Then, we’ll take  a look at the lesson.

  1. Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was fired from Apple in his thirties-yes, the company he had created had shown him the gate.

He returned, though, and propelled Apple to become one of the biggest companies on the planet.

  1. Walt Disney

Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star in 1919. The problem?

His editor told him, “you lack imagination and have no good ideas”

  1. J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter creator, Rowling, was fired from the London office of Amnesty International where she worked as a secretary. Her passion was writing stories and her bosses eventually lost patience and gave her the UK equivalent of her P 45.

  1. Mark Cuban

You may not have heard of Mark Cuban if you are not interested in business. He’s an American business man with a company called MicroSolutions inc which is worth in excess of $2.4 billion.

Cuban was fired from his retail job in a shoe store because he was late one day to open the shop. (He was busy meeting a potential client for his fledgling business).

  1. Anna Wintour

Wintour became editor of Vogue magazine but her advice for fashion students: “I recommend that you all get fired”. She goes on to say that it was a wonderful learning experience.

She was fired from Harper’s Bazaar magazine as a junior fashion editor.

  1. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah was fired from Baltimore TV company WJZ-TV for being too emotionally involved in the stories.

  1. Truman Capote

Capote, writer of the wonderful “In Cold Blood” and “breakfast at Tiffany’s” was fired from his job at The New Yorker magazine.

Why? He left a reading of his poetry by Robert Frost because he had the flu. Frost knew where he worked and demanded he be fired.

  1. Thomas Edison

Edison invented the light bulb, and this work involve many experiments and trials. He was fired from his job at Western Union when an experiment involved some spilled acid eating through an entire floor of his workplace office.

  1. Mozart

Mozart had a position as a musician at the court of the prince-archbishop of Salzburg, but was shown the door, too.

  1. Carly Fiorina

Fiorina was the CEO of Hewlett-Packard, and was the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 country. She lasted 6 years before her decision to buy Compaq saw her being shown the door.


Closer to home there are many examples from the political and sporting spheres of successful people who were sacked, for example Claudio Ranieri, manager of the Premier title Leicester city was fired the following season.

One Vital Lesson

Being fired, as you will see from the above, is not fatal to your career, or your life.

How you react to it, and what you do next, is the critical thing.

Do you see the dismissal as a reflection of you as a person, or do you recognise that there are many factors as to why you may have been dismissed? For example, your performance, poor judgment by your boss, lack of objectivity by a decision maker, or perhaps a combination of these factors.

None of these things can be let define you, or dictate that “this is what I am”.

Also, you have a choice if/when it happens.

This choice is yours, and nobody can take it away from you.

The choice is how you react to the dismissal, if it happens.

Do you dust yourself down, pick yourself up, learn from it, and move on?

Do you separate the activity from you as an individual?

Dr. Viktor Frankel was a Jewish, Austrian psychiatrist who saw his wife, children, and unborn child murdered in the concentration camps during the second world war.

Frankel himself spent years in 2 or 3 of the worst camps, but while he was there he noticed something remarkable: the prisoners who fared best were those who comforted others, who gave their last piece of bread to other, more needy prisoners.

These prisoners recognised something vitally important: everything can be taken away from us, except the ability to choose how we will react in any given set of circumstances.

Money, prestige, books, property, clothes, food, water, your car, your job can all be removed from you.

But you can decide how you react. Nobody can take this from you.

This applies to a sacking too. You can let it destroy you, or you can choose to learn, move on, and grow.

What will you choose if it happens you?