Visionaries Walt Disney (left) and Oprah Winfrey (right).

From Walt Disney to Oprah Winfrey, the world’s greatest visionaries have often encountered failure, yet have recognized the need to keep reaching higher to achieve one’s dreams. Photos from Wikimedia Commons.

Want to succeed in your classes, degree program, business concept or life goals? You are not alone in starting from humble beginnings. Some of the world’s greatest visionaries, geniuses and celebrities have risen from the unlikeliest of circumstances. Here are some of their stories and quotes to inspire you to reach higher.

Disneyland, the brainchild of the late Walt Disney, is arguably Orange County’s greatest claim to fame. Back in 1928, one year before the worst economic downturn in modern Western history, Disney started his empire with just a dream and a mouse. In 1955, his theme park concept in Anaheim would serve as the prototype for amusement destinations worldwide. By his death 50 years ago this week in 1966, Disney was widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest visionaries.

Disney’s words are just as applicable to business students as they are to corporate executives or entertainment industry professionals:

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

Steve Jobs, the late founder and CEO of Apple Inc., holds an iPhone.

Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs recognized that time is our most precious and limited resource, as well as a motivation to make a positive impact on the world. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Steve Jobs and Tim Cook: Tips for Success from Some of the World’s Most Creative Minds

Almost all of us have been impacted by the genius of technology inventor Steve Jobs. The iPod, iPad and iPhone are some of his legacies.

During the 1970s, Jobs began his rise as a computer pioneer by working with his friend, Steve Wozniak, to create the Apple computer. Despite limited higher education, an up-from-the-bootstraps startup, little money, and no name recognition, Jobs made sure he always had an outlet for his ideas, which would include the Macintosh computer and the array of gadgets that have defined the past decade.

Jobs’ quotes have been viewed by many as among the most inspirational of our time:

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time”

Tim Cook, Apple’s current CEO, also has tips for the next generation of professionals:

“You can focus on things that are barriers, or you can focus on scaling the wall or redefining the problem.”

“Let your joy be in your journey – not in some distant goal.”

“Life is fragile. We’re not guaranteed a tomorrow, so give it everything you’ve got.”

Richard Branson: Virgin’s Visionary Encourages Perseverance

British businessman, investor and philanthropist Richard Branson followed his entrepreneurial spirit at age 16, when he started a magazine in which he interviewed 1960s icons such as Mick Jagger. Within a decade, he would start an empire in the music industry, selling records by mail-order and in retail stores, eventually developing into the Virgin Records music label. He would go on to diversity into the communications, travel, transportation and even space exploration sectors.

Over the years, Branson has experienced incredible success, but he has also lived through the failure of many of his concepts. Thus, he can speak from experience on how to get back up and try again when things go wrong.

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.”

“My attitude has always been, if you fall flat on your face, at least you’re moving forward. All you have to do is get back up and try again.”

“One thing is certain in business. You and everyone around you will make mistakes.”

“To me, business isn’t about wearing suits or pleasing stockholders. It’s about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials.”

Oprah Winfrey: One of the World’s Most Influential Women on Living Your Dreams

For the past quarter century, television personality, entrepreneur and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey has been considered one of the world’s most admired and influential women, as well as the wealthiest African-American of the 20th century.

She encourages everyone to follow their dreams, even through adversity:

“The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.”

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

“Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.”

Sophia Amoruso: Nasty Gal Clothing Founder on Success in the Digital Age

At age 22, Sophia Amoruso launched an eBay clothing resale store in San Francisco. A decade later, her brainchild, Nasty Gal Inc., is one of the world’s fastest-growing online retail concepts.

Much of her inspiration comes in the form of Tweets. Some of her most inspiring include:

“It’s cool to be kind. It’s cool to be weird. It’s cool to be honest and to be secure with yourself.”

“There are secret opportunities hidden inside every failure.”

“I believe that there is a silver lining in everything, and once you begin to see it, you’ll need sunglasses to combat the glare.”

Indra Nooyi: PepsiCo.’s CEO Reaches for Perfection

Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi began her career in India, before coming to the U.S. to earn a master’s degree from Yale University. She joined PepsiCo in 1994, becoming president and CEO seven years later. Widely recognized as leading a major turnaround for the soft drink giant, Nooyi has been ranked among the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women by Forbes.

Her quotes provide a glimpse into her leadership style:

“We ought to keep pushing the boundaries to get to flawless execution. Flawless is the ultimate goal.”

“I wouldn’t ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.”
“The challenge of the leader is to look around the corner, and change before you need to change.”

Leave a Reply