1. J.K. Rowling’s first manuscript for Harry Potter was initially rejected by 12 publishing houses.
Finally, she was picked up by Bloomsbury for an advance of $1,500.
2. Lee Hee-ah is an award-winning Korean concert pianist with only four fingers.
Hee-ah was born with only two fingers on each hand and no legs under her kneecaps. She began playing piano at age seven to strengthen her hands, which couldn’t even hold a pencil. She now tours the world playing piano for large audiences.
3. In 2010, Philippe Croizon — a quadruple amputee — swam the English Channel.
Croizon, who lost his limbs in an electrical accident, crossed the Channel in less than 14 hours.
4. Tommy Edison is a film critic who has been blind since birth.
Going by the name “Blind Film Critic,” Edison has been working in radio for nearly 25 years. He also produces online videos revealing what it’s like to have been blind since birth.
5. Oprah Winfrey was born into a life of abject poverty and sexual abuse; she has since become one of the most influential women in history.
Winfrey, who ran away from home at 13, has been ranked the richest African-American of the 20th century, and the greatest black philanthropist in American history, giving back to hundreds of thousands of people.
6. In 1919, Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star for a lack of creativity.
His editor at the time canned him because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”
7. It took Thomas Edison over 10,000 attempts to develop the commercially viable lightbulb.
Edison famously stated, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”
8. Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first black president after serving 27 years in prison.
Mandela, who has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, was jailed for resisting apartheid, which his government fought to dismantle.
9. Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting while he was alive.
His works are now among the most expensive paintings in the world, with several pieces having been sold for over $100 million.
10. In 2009, British comedian Eddie Izzard raised over £1,000,000 for charity by running 43 marathons in 51 days.
A famous activist, Izzard had no previous history of long-distance running and only began training five weeks in advance.