What it’s Like to Fail 35,000 Times in Pursuit of a Dream

On November 6, 2013, CBS aired it’s interview about me and my Rich Habits research. My CBS Nightly News interview aired across the entire United States and portions of Canada. This was my first nationwide network T.V. interview. It had taken me 9 years to get there. And, yet, it almost never happened. Here’s why I nearly quit on my dream:

  • I sent Query Letters to 149 agents specializing in Self-Help, to help me find a publisher for my book Rich Habits. All either ignored me or said no.
  • I then sent Query Letters to 200 publishers. One responded yes.
  • I spent 4 months working with my publisher in developing my book.
  • In July 2009, my publisher notified me that they were filing for bankruptcy.
  • A self-publisher took over some of my bankrupt publisher’s authors. I made the cut. It would cost me about $6,000, however.
  • Rich Habits, now a self-published book, was released in March 2010. I mailed out 1,000 books to newspaper and magazine book review editors. I followed up with phone calls to those same book review editors. Not one returned my calls. And not one reviewed my book.
  • I spoke to over 2,000 High School and college students, teachers and parents about the Rich Habits at schools primarily in the New York metropolitan area and gave away 2,000 books. I was hoping this would create some buzz. It didn’t.
  • I spoke at a dozen libraries, countless civic and business groups and a few churches. Still no buzz.
  • I created a scholarship program to elicit interest in Rich Habits, offering 3 scholarships totaling $5,000 (my total royalties to date). I mailed out 2,000 letters to guidance counselors and then followed up with phone calls to each. End Result? I received 2 incomplete scholarship applications.
  • I called over 2,000 radio stations across the U.S. pitching them to interview me. I got 150 radio interviews. I sold 500 books.
  • I emailed over 2,500 newspaper editors hoping to get them to write an article about me, my book or my research. I pitched them a hundred different ways. Not one responded to my emails.
  • I sent 16,700 twitter pitches to the media over the course of 3 years. Not one responded.

By 2012 I was ready to quit. I had had enough of being ignored and rejected. For all of my efforts, I had sold 1,000 books. For some strange reason, I did’t quit. I kept trying. What follows next is almost unbelievable:

  • In February 2012 I get an out of the blue call from the NJ Star Ledger, NJ’s largest paper, to interview me on my book. My first media piece is amazing and I sell 200 books in 2 days.
  • In February 2013 I received a tweet from Farnoosh Torabi. She wants to interview me about my research for her Yahoo Internet T.V. Show. On July 16, 2013 Yahoo runs the interview. It goes viral with over 2 million hits in 24 hours. It becomes the most viewed episode in the show’s history. Yahoo flips out over the hits.
  • Dave Ramsey, 3rd largest radio host in the U.S., picks up on the viral Yahoo interview and talks about my research on his show. Dave then has me on his show for 30 minutes. Rich Habits rises to #7 in all book categories on Amazon. For the month of of July 2013, Rich Habits stays in the top 100. Only 99 authors in the U.S. sell more books than me that July. I receive 3 designations from Amazon: #1 Bestseller, Best Book of the Month and Most Wished for Book of the Month. I sell 12,000 books in July 2013.
  • Bob Dumas, a reporter for CBS, emails me about doing an interview. The interview runs on their Nightly News program in November 2013. It is seen from Boston to California. Rich Habits becomes a bestseller on Amazon for the 2nd time. I sell thousands of books.
  • MSN Money runs a piece about my research in February, 2014. The article goes viral with millions of hits. I become a bestselling author on Amazon for the 3rd time.
  • SUCCESS Magazine runs a 5 page piece on my research in their November 2014 issue. They also do a separate interview with me that is included on the audio CD that comes with the magazine. To understand how significant this CD is – Jack Welch, Rudy Giuliani, Tony Robbins and other celebrities were on previous CDs. It’s a huge honor to be included on the CD. Huge! I come within a hairs breath of being an Amazon bestselling author for the 4th time.
  • USA Today runs a piece on my Rich Habits and my newest book, Rich Kids in February 2015. Once again, I come very close to breaking the top 100 on Amazon in all books sold in the U.S. Rich Kids breaks the top 100 for Kindle eBooks for the first time.

If you were to add up all of the failures I’ve had over the years, it would number close to nearly 35,000. 35,000 failures and 7 successes (NJ Star Ledger, Yahoo, Dave Ramsey, CBS, MSN Money, SUCCESS Magazine and USA Today).  I am 7 for 35,000. Yet those 7 successes resulted in the sale of tens of thousands of books and made me a bestselling author 3 times.

I realized something in July 2013, when I first became a bestselling author;  this is not just about me. It’s about every dreamer out there who is on the verge of giving up on their dream. My story is the reason why you should never quit on your dream. I learned that you only need to succeed once. I learned that your success is hiding behind a mountain of your mistakes and failures. Life wants to see if you have what it takes to overcome every obstacle it puts in your way. But most of all, life wants to see if you deserve success. You are much more than you ever imagined. You only find out how amazing you are when your back is up against the wall and your dream feels like it’s collapsing under the weight of all of your failures and mistakes. When you are about ready to quit, that is when life blinks. And what a blink. It is always some unintended great thing that happens. Something completely out of the blue that you never expected and never imagined. When you persist, life eventually bends to your will. It goes from adversary to ally in an instant.



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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
Email Tom
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  1. Who knew a post about failure could be so encouraging? Thanks for sharing some perspective on how difficult the path to success can be, and why it’s worth it to keep trying. That is definitely a rich habit!

  2. What a terrific example of believing in your self and try-try again! I’ll be honest,I haven’t heard of your book until now but all excited to read it. We are just really staying out get out of debt and you are right about it be a mental/habit thing and not giving up hope. That is our hardest challenge. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Great story of resilience and ultimately success. You litterally failed your way forward. I have always looked at failure as a stepping stone to success.

    I heard a quote that I keep close in times of doubt and when I am on the verge of quitting:

    “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston Churchill


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  5. Thanks again for the article.Really looking forward to read more.


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