From Rags to Riches- J.K. Rowling’s road to success

“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”

J.K. RowlingBest known for her mega-best-selling book series of Harry Potter, Joanne Kathleen Rowling is one of those people who managed to make millions of dollars from their creative minds.

Even if you were not one of those who spent hours behind the books, imagining how it would be to live in a magical world, you probably at least watched movies. It’s a story of generations and for all generations.

Her stories have inspired thousands of people to believe in themselves and to believe that everyone has a magic inside them. But there is much more to it, a ‘behind the scenes’ story: J.K.’s story!

In case you didn’t know, she went from being a single mom struggling to pay the bills, and became the acclaimed writer we all know today.

How? That’s what we want to tell you.

Here are some of J.K. Rowling’s life philosophies, which helped her overcome all the challenges she faced and get where she’s now.

1. Ability to see the silver lining and turn ‘lemon into lemonade’

“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

In 1990, when her mother died, J.K. used the feeling of loss to complete the real-life elements of Harry Potter. That pain was the fuel for her to write about the miserable life of Harry as an orphan.

A few years later, her marriage also fell apart. She was jobless at the time, and raising her first child came to her responsibility, so she started living on state benefits. No wonder she ended up in a big depression.

During this dark time, she changed these miserable feelings to her benefit and made up the Dementor (a creature in her books that suck away any joy when he shows up).

So yes, there are many moments in our life when everything seems hopeless, but just as J.K. did, we can use these moments in our favor.

Channelize the pain and turn it into something good.

2. The crucial significance of imagination.

Is imagination only for the kids? Maybe then we’re all just big kids! 😀

J.K. Rowling believes that imagination is the most powerful weapon on earth. And when you think about it, everything created resulted of our daydreams.

There wouldn’t have been something called ‘pizza’ if, someone never dreamt about the taste of combining sauces with some cheese and vegetables, or would it?

“Imagination is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we never shared.”

J.K.. Rowling

So, go ahead and daydream. Let your imagination run where it may and imagine a better life, a better world. Imagine magic.

And, If someone complains, tell them that you have Jo’s permission 😉

3. Your qualifications are not your life.

“You are more than the things you do or did not do.”

J.K. Rowling

No matter how many degrees you have, or how many lessons you did not finish, your qualifications (and grades) are not you or your life!

She says:  “Failure gave me an inner security that I have never had by passing examinations.”

Jo believes that failures are all about stripping away the inessential. That’s why we become better with each failure and improvise when we try again.

Does inner security comes from a job, money or getting an A+? The perfect spouse or a relationship?

Jo says that success is, luckily, not measured by the number of qualifications we have.

4. Focus on what work matters the most to you

“I began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.”

J.K. Rowling

After she finished her degree in 1986, J.K. landed on a job at Amnesty International, as a researcher and secretary. While working there, she kept on carrying her passion: writing.

At that time, her articles were published in a journal of Exeter University.

After a while, she moved to Manchester to work for the Chamber of Commerce. That’s when she began writing her sensational Harry Potter story.

Think about it, wasn’t it pretty cool that she came up with the multi-million dollar idea while working as a regular employee?

While delivering a speech at Harvard, she said that “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

By rock bottom, she meant that she had failed on an epic scale. Having an exceptionally short-lived marriage, being a jobless, alone parent and “as poor as it was possible to be in Britain, without being homeless”.

Even we can rise up from our own rock bottom, lay a foundation for our dreams and goals, no matter where we are at this very moment.

All it takes is to have resilience, faith, and to believe in yourself. We all have power inside, we just need to find the best way to channel it!

Share this post with someone who needs some magic in their life right now 🙂

Did you like this post? You may also take a look at: “3 Leadership concepts from Jeff Bezos”

Written by

Anisha Bhawanani is graduated in Marketing and Finance and loves writing. She is a happy go lucky girl with a head full of dreams, very passionate about traveling and exploring different cultures. One day she wants to win a man booker prize.

4 Lessons to Take from Rajkumar Hirani’s “Sanju”

Rajkumar Hirani’s ‘ Sanju ’ became one of the massive hits from Bollywood. Besides that, it also helped both Ranbir Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt to elevate their film career.

Although the film gained appreciations from all quarters, it was also criticized for not showing all the aspects of the actor’s life. The film focused mainly on the father-son relationship between Sanjay and Sunil Dutt, and how his friends influenced his life.

Henceforth, the film showcased everyday life, which every person experiences in life – actor or non-actor.  


But here are some very
important lessons that Hirani’s movie taught us 🙂

You can pick yourself up, even after falling

Due to his drug addiction, “Sanjay Dutt’ was sent to rehab. But, he started to pick himself up. However, the withdrawal symptoms became too painful, and his body craved drugs.

sanju as a begger

As a result, he ran away from rehab. During his time away, he begged on the streets to reach New York to his friend who could lend him money for drugs. And when he finally reached, he found his father there who got him back into the rehab. After this time though, Sanju was determined to make it through.

Invest in yourself if you need to

After coming back from rehab, Sanju hit the gym with a vengeance. He poured all his anger, frustration and insecurities into lifting weights, and no longer sought peace or comfort in drugs.

He started working on improving his acting skills and picked roles that suited his image and helped him in building on his strengths.

sanju with a guitar

A key turning point in his acting career was when he signed up for the role of “Munnabhai MBBS” with father Sunil Dutt which he played effortlessly.

Your time will definitely come if you are right

Sanju was labeled as a terrorist by the media, under the TADA act for possessing an AK 56 rifle in connection with Mumbai blasts.

A lawyer advised him to accept the charges and turn as an approver, in exchange for which the lawyer can get him released. After this, he should run from India and live abroad.


Sanju refused to do it. As a consequence, he was sentenced to prison for 5 years for possession of arms. But, Supreme Court also removed the label of terrorist from him mentioning that, owning of arms doesn’t make him a terrorist. Hence, he served his time and was released later.

Had he ran from the country, he wouldn’t have been able to remove the tag of a terrorist that he was labelled with.

Depression is not the end of your life

His career and personal life had many ups and downs. In fact, he didn’t even remember the last moments of his mother’s life. His girlfriend ended up marrying someone else. All of this happened because of his drug addiction.

When Sanju was in depression and became a drug addict, he went to his father and asked for his help. Sunil Dutt admitted him to rehab, which occupied nearly one and a half year of his life to overcome the problem of drugs.

The movie was brutally harsh as it spoke of a broken childhood, drug abuse, the effect of bad company, imprisonment and also some consequences of a bad mental health (taking drugs in stress and it’s after effects).

Sanju teaches us important lessons which are really needed today.

Sometimes we may come under bad influences by circumstance, or do something wrong. But we can always come out of it and become a better person, even becoming an inspiration too 😉

Well, overcoming challenges always makes us a better person. At AIESEC we also believe that great things come out from our comforts zone. Therefore, we provide opportunities that put people into a challenging environment to bring out the best in them 🙂

What are the lessons that you learned from Sanju? Do let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this blog, you may also like 6 Life Lessons That FRIENDS taught Us.

Written by

Anisha Bhawanani is graduated in Marketing and Finance and loves writing. She is a happy go lucky girl with a head full of dreams, very passionate about traveling and exploring different cultures. One day she wants to win a man booker prize.

7 Life Lessons from Michael Jordan

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Michal Jordan

At the age of 15, Michael Jordan was cut out of his varsity basketball team because he was deemed too short to play at 1.8 meters. As we know, he turned out to be highly successful in his basketball career and was known as a legend in the game.

It was his passion, determination, skill level and commitment that made him a leader among other men in the game of basketball. He crafted himself into the most valuable basketball player of his time, and for all its worth, he will be the one everyone talks about.

As a role model, he has inspired generations and is the reason many people fall in love with basketball. He managed to unleash his full potential and is an example of success, action, and ambition.

There’s a lot he can teach us about leadership and life.

In looking at what Jordan did to be at the top of his game, I find it is just what a great leader needs to do to stay at the top of their game.

So here are 7 valuable lessons we can all learn from Michael Jordan:

1. Don’t be scared to try 

“I can accept failure but I can’t accept not trying.”

~Michael Jordan

We don’t know the result and we may never know unless we try. We can give ourselves 101 reasons as to why it won’t work, but nothing will ever happen if we don’t get out there and try.

There will always be obstacles in the journey towards our goals. But don’t let them stop you from taking the first step. Obstacles are meant to be conquered. And the truth is, nothing will ever happen if you don’t do something about it, and there’s no better way than trying.

Action breeds action. And if you’re initiative and consistent in what you do, you’ll succeed.

2. Leave fear behind

“I know fear is an obstacle for some people, but it’s an illusion to me.”

 ~Michael Jordan

He realized that fear was an illusion earlier than others, and that gave him the freedom to try harder and dream bigger. Fear of failure is a big obstacle on the way to success.

We, as humans, are so fearful of failure that it halts all our actions but the funny thing in life is that if we do not take any action, we are doomed to failure. Contradicting, isn’t it?

It’s important that we realize the only barriers are the ones we set for ourselves, and here the barrier is the illusion of fear.

3. Focus on finding a solution

Michael Jordan

“If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them.  But obstacles don’t have to stop you.

If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

 ~Michael Jordan

When you hit a roadblock, don’t waste your energy and time panicking. Take a moment to gather yourself and find a solution – it exists.

Do not let the weight of the moment drag you down, instead, use this to be fierce. Recall why you need to win and let it drive you to achieve what matters the most, your dream.

4. Attitude Is Everything

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.”

 ~Michael Jordan

We all know the power of staying positive. Not just in negative situations but in life as well. Positivity plays a huge role in determining how much further we’re gonna go in pursuit of our ambitions.

michael jordan

5. Stay focused

“The game has its ups and downs, but you can never lose focus of your individual goals and you can’t let yourself be beat because of lack of effort.”

 ~Michael Jordan

here are many distractions in life, and it wasn’t any different for Michael Jordan. He had to deal with failures, other people’s opinion, his personal problems, team members, what the media said about him, fame, and many other things. But he never stopped being concentrated on his goals.

He kept his vision, stayed true to what he believed in, and never let anything from the outside world get to his mind or heart.

6. Put In the Work

“I’m not out there sweating for three hours every day just to find out what it feels like to sweat.”

  ~Michael Jordan

There aren’t any successful people in the world that don’t put in hard work to achieve what they have today.

In order to collect your harvest, you need to put in the effort to sow first. That is the Law of Nature. If we want to achieve something, just put in the hard work and the results will definitely come. Be tenacious and improve every single day.

Michael Jordan playing for Chicago Bulls

7. You Can’t Do It Alone

“If you think and achieve as a team, the individual accolades will take care of themselves. Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”

 ~Michael Jordan

Jordan is arguably the greatest player of all time but he did not win six championships by himself. Jordan was blessed with a teammate and Hall of Fame player Scottie Pippen (one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History). What if Michael Jordan didn’t have Scottie Pippen?

Individual effort is important, but it’s teamwork that makes the dream work.

A great leader is those who can make the sum of the whole greater than the sum of the parts, as that’s when teams reach their full potential.

Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Michael Jordan

So don’t be afraid to do what you love and fail as much as you can.

All these lessons, together with the unforgettable games Michael Jordan played, are his legacy. And we can do the same.

Everything in life is possible. We just need to have a definite desire and take action upon it every single day.

And in the end, just remember to be true to the game, because the game will be true to you.

If you try to shortcut the game, then the game will shortcut you. If you put forth the effort, good things will be bestowed upon you. It’s truly about the game, and in some ways, that’s about life too.

If you liked this blog you may also like: “3 Leadership Concepts From Jeff Bezos”

Written by

Studying bachelor’s in biotechnology, Aayushi is a really passionate person, who loves to read and travel. She believes people, places, and stories have the power to change anyone and help them understand the purpose of life.

3 Leadership Concepts from Jeff Bezos

Are good leadership skills quantifiable?

Well, in Jeff Bezos’ case, they are. Bezos grabbed the title of the “Richest man in the World” this year, but it took him a lot of work and passion to get there.

It was his love for engineering and computers drove him to start his own business, and his first office was his garage. In 1994, he founded Amazon, which is today the world’s largest online retail site.

His idea was simple: providing everything to everyone anywhere in the world.

One of the best values that have been instilled by him at Amazon is customer care. Hence, his business strategies are customer-centric, not competition focussed.

As a leader, he believes ideas are birthed out of passion, not trends. He gave Amazon the following vision, back in 1999:

“Our vision is to use this platform to build Earth’s most customer-centric company, a place where customers can come to find and discover anything and everything they might want to buy online.”

Having clarity of where you want to reach and being able to inspire people by that is one of the mandatory things for every successful leadership story. But it’s not the only thing, naturally.

Here are the three concepts that Jeff Bezos, as a leader, stands by:

Stay true to the vision of the organisation

It’s very easy for a business person to say “I want to be very customer centric”. It’s even one of the trendy topics on business today, right? So what can a company do to walk its talk?

A very subtle but effective technique that Jeff Bezos uses in his boardroom meetings is the use of an empty chair. He does that to make his team conscious of their customer, who isn’t present but is the most important, the main motive, behind all that.

It diverts the attention of the board to customer care instead of formulating plans to gain leverage against Amazon’s competitors.

Jeff Bezos - Focus on customer

Another unusual way Bezos ensures that he’s being customer-centric is to deliver direct emails to the customers. And he has a public mail for the same purpose. This leads to effective communication and first-hand feedback, which help to get to the grassroots of the problem, done by being approachable and accessible.

These are a few examples of how Bezos daily adheres to the vision he has set for his organisation: interest of the target market first, profit later.

“We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.” he adds.

Having Backbone

The greatest risk of all is to not risk at all. One of the things that make Bezos memorable among the swarm of billionaires is his rebellion against the socially constructed norms.

“Having a backbone, disagreeing and committing” is a statement that is a part of Amazon’s 14 leadership principles and, according to him, using this phrase can make a team twice as productive.

Bezos is a leader who believes that instinct and intuition lead to creative innovations.

hand drawing a rocket - leadership - Jeff Bezos

He is known for being stubborn enough not to give up, but also flexible enough to be open minded when looking for solutions. He says, “one of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out.

Being Bold

“If you decide that you’re going to do only the things you know are going to work, you’re going to leave a lot of opportunities on the table.”

This quote by Bezos sheds light on how he, as a leader, advocates thinking outside the box. He is not afraid of being different, as he believes taking risks to execute unique ideas lead to innovation.

Amazon started as an online book retailer, but with Jeff’s bold ideas it now sells everything you can think of. Anything, from A to Z, as symbolised in their logo.

Jeff Bezos’ recently proposed to use drones to deliver packages to customers. This bold idea has been a point of controversy, as drones are Artificial Intelligence (AI), and are often associated with hostility and destruction. But this is perhaps why this gifted philanthropist wishes to incorporate them in a manner that is more customer-friendly.

According to him, “experiments are key to innovation because they rarely turn out as you expect and you learn so much.”.

Jeff Bezos’ Leadership Trifecta

Leadership isn’t something you learn in books. It is born out of practice.

“The common question that gets asked in business is, ‘why?’ That’s a good question, but an equally valid question is, ‘why not?’”

– Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos developed his leadership style and beliefs during his journey to turn a simple idea into a quantifiable project that impacts humankind for its betterment.

You can also find the leader inside you, all you need to do is take the first step, and practice is every day!

Feeling inspired? Check out “Elon Musk: A series of successful failures” for more!

Elon Musk: a series of successful failures

“I could either watch it happen or be a part of it.”

This statement by Elon Musk sums up the true essence of his leadership.

Born in South Africa in 1971, he is an American Entrepreneur and Businessman. Elon founded in 1999(now known as PayPal), SpaceX in 2002, and Tesla Motors in 2003.

As of December 2017, his net worth is $20.2 billion, according to Forbes. And he continuously acts towards creating sustainable technology, by investing in projects such as SolarCity.

Very spirited and a self-made billionaire, Elon Musk stirs the melting pot with controversial tweets and mind-boggling innovations. He is an example of a leader that proves that failure is both inevitable and imperative.

“How?”, you may ask.

All it takes is a look at his story, to see how he turned his failures into successes.

elon musk timeline 2

Elon Musk’s journey proves that instead of waiting for a utopian setup, it is better to work with what you have.

Look around, gather ideas and act after making calculated decisions. As a leader, he has led all of his ventures with the spirit of innovation, while not drifting too far from the goal he set for himself: saving humankind.

He also connects with his employees at a grassroots level and never lets failure stop him from trying something bold and new.

His views are best summed up in his signature quote:

“The first step is to establish that something is possible; then probability will occur.”

If you liked this, you may also be interested in “How self-aware are you?”.