BY Kristina Zhou

Failure as an outcome can cripple us, shadowing us in lingering moments of self doubt, paralysing us with fear and uncertainty: Will I ever be good enough? Is it the end of the road for me?  

For those who believe failure is ultimate, these three ladies showcase that sometimes failure is the driving incentive you need to push harder, aim higher and never stop hustling.

Jenn Im is a media/fashion entrepreneur with over 2.1 million Youtube subscribers.

Rumours have been circulating that Jenn Im can commission upwards of 20,000 per video and that’s a conservative estimate. She is also the director of Eggie - an E-Commerce platform that has developed a cult like following. Her clothes regularly sell out: some items have even been snapped up within a few hours and there's always a global digital anticipation for her new product launches. 

Despite her success now, as a young adult, life wasn't always so smooth. After high school she didn’t get into any of the colleges she applied for, so she enrolled in her local community college. She says she felt very “small and insignificant” seeing a large portion of her friends enter prestigious colleges, so she took it upon herself to study with more vigour. 

Guess what? She still got rejected from her dream college UC Berkley, but she got accepted into her close second choice: UC Davis. She counts her initial rejection from college as a necessary setback, as it enabled her to have more free time to develop a creative outlet (read: the start of her youtube channel!), during a period where she felt directionless. An influential media channel, CEO of a burgeoning clothing line and she purchased her own property by 26? Not shabby for someone who didn’t adhere to the “Straight A perfect minority.”

Dr Catherine Begovic is a leading female plastic surgeon; she has appeared in TV shows as the sole medical authority and boasts one of the most sought after clinics in Beverly Hills, California, with a wait list that can span 6 months. If you thought being the head surgeon of a busy medical practice already sounded draining, then get this: Catherine's also the CEO of skincare line GLAM MD. Not a cent is spent on advertising, yet word of mouth has seen the business generate an internationally loyal audience.

Catherine’s life has always been about defying the odds: at Harvard people used to send her hate mail and snidely remark that she would never become a doctor.

After witnessing the graphic aftermath of her best friend's suicide- she suffered serious psychological trauma and spiralled into a deep depression. In her final two years of college, Catherine also faced severe health complications. She recalls her health deteriorating to the point, where she was operated on and hospitalised for two weeks, right before her final exams. As a result, she failed a few classes and her GPA plummeted down to an all-time low.

She felt defeated. “How am I ever going to be a doctor? Maybe everyone is right, maybe I’m not good enough.” Despite the initial cloud of self-doubt, she rose up and accelerated, determined to chase her medical dreams. “I retook all my classes, got my GPA up, I undertook more research and published in leading scientific journals, I mentored and tutored, I did every possible extracurricular, I worked so hard. I think because of those difficult times, it actually pushed me to do extra and to be overly ambitious.” Her new work ethic was so intense, that whispers spread throughout the Harvard campus, as the once bubbly Catherine had retreated from her vibrant social life. People were so fascinated by the transformation, that she became the subject of a Harvard article titled, “Whatever happened to Catherine Huang (her maiden name)?”

Catherine proves that failure should never be seen as an impenetrable steel wall blocking your path to success. Hang in there and keep on steering; there are multiple paths to reach your destination- it’s never the end.

Anna Wintour has been Vogue America’s Editor in Chief for 30 years. Vogue’s parent publishing company Conde’ Nast promoted her by extending her responsibilities and influence to a wide variety of magazines: she became the company’s editorial and artistic director. In 2009, she was appointed by President Obama to join the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. And here’s the thing: she never attended college and actually dropped out of high school at age 15 to work full time in fashion retail. 

However, the lack of academic focus in her younger years didn’t stop Anna from pursuing her interest in fashion beyond the retail floor. She honed her styling skills in retail and was tenacious in knowing exactly how to achieve her goals: offering her style savvy skills to editors in the fashion magazine circles. Eventually her persistence paid off and she was hired as an editorial assistant at Harpers and Queen.  

With a vast amount of experience in Britain she moved to the United States to try her luck. She was promptly fired from her first American job at Harpers Bazaar for being too avant-garde. Anna Wintour says they told her she “would never understand the American market.” 

On being fired? “I think everyone should be fired, it's character-building." As someone who lead American Vogue from a stagnant 1.2 million to a staggering 12 million in readership, it’s safe to say Harpers Bazaar just didn’t understand Anna Wintour.

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