In 1963, the exemplary schoolgirl Condoleezza Rice was photographed by her father in front of the White House for a keepsake. She said: "One day I will be in this house." Almost 40 years later she gave advise to George Bush there.
When his laboratory burned, people were devastated, but not Thomas Edison. After the tragedy, he said: "I'm 67 years old, but I am not too old to start all over again. I passed through many such things". He then renovated the lab and worked for another 17 years... Edison was asked about the secret behind his extraordinary success. He replied: "The ability to steadily direct the physical and mental abilities to a problem without wearing out."
Being a pilot, Sam Walton travelled by his own airplane between Wal-Mart stores in different regions, making quick, regular inspections. From above, he used the machine for scouting purposes—to explore new places, judging factors like vehicle flow and population density. The high integration between stores, regulated with computers from the headquarters in Bentonville, allowed for economical operation of the chain.
Geoffrey Ballard, the founder of Ballard Power Systems (BPS), has tried for 25 years to develop a fuel cell that is a better source of energy than internal combustion engines. He believed in the future success of his invention and his faith inspired a dedicated team to join him in his long journey despite the numerous technical and financial problems. Ballard was ridiculed by scientists for being eccentric, but when his team finally succeeded, BPS reached a market capitalization of billions of dollars.
In 1890, Gottlieb Daimler drew a three-pointed star on a postcard to his family with the words: "One day this star will shine on my work."
In 1519, Hernán Cortés and his army reached the Mexican coast in Veracruz and wanted to conquer its territory for Spain. They were faced with a hopeless situation: a strong opponent, merciless diseases and scarce resources. When they went inland to fight, Cortés sent one of his officers back with the laconic order: "Burn the ships!"
In 1945, at the age of 90, Max Planck attempted to "restructure the science."
At the age of 80, Claude Monet drew pictures 12 hours a day, despite the fact that he could hardly see.
Alfred Nobel discovered the dynamite and other powerful explosives. When his brother died, a newspaper mistakenly posted an obituary of Alfred. It described him as a man, who became rich by a discovery that enabled people to kill themselves in large quantities. Shaken by this assessment, Nobel decided from this day forward to distribute his wealth in form of awards for inventions, which benefit the humanity.
When Alexander the Great was asked how he conquered the world, he is said to have replied: "By not wavering."
Although Ernest Shackleton died in his fourth expedition at the age of 47, he managed the survival of 27 crew members, despite all circumstances. The man, whose motto was "By endurance we conquer", said to his crew: "In trouble, danger and disappointment never give up hope. The worst can always be got over."
On the age of 12, Wim Wenders filmed with an 8mm camera the cars and the pedestrians from above, located at the window of the house, but he couldn't answer to his father why he did it. Ten years later, he made his first short film in 16mm of a junction from the sixth floor of a building.
The great violonist Gherardin was asked how long it took him to learn to play. His answer: "12 hours a day for 20 years."
"Bulova" made an offer to buy 100000 radios from "Sony", but its co-founder, Akio Morita didn't want the radios to carry their name. He rejected with the words: "Fifty years from now, I promise you that our name will be just as famous as your company name today."
Vincent van Gogh sold his canvases on the street for food. He wrote before his death: "I cannot help it that my pictures do not sell. Nevertheless, the time will come when people will see that they are worth more than the price of the paint."
In 1859, Karl Marx wrote: "I must pursue my goal through thick and thin and I must not allow bourgeois society to turn me into a money-making machine."
More examples will follow over time.