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Making Mistakes Can Make Money

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There are two kinds of mistakes: those you make yourself and those that just happen. But mistakes can metamorphose into successes — it’s all in what you make of them.

$975 MM Down — But Not Out

No one knows that better than Donald Trump, who took a $975 million bath during the real-estate depression of the early ’90s. Trump admits he blew it; he focused too much on self-promotion and not enough on business. But Trump refused to declare bankruptcy.

Instead, he regrouped. He renegotiated millions in loans to survive the recession. Then he executed a well-conceived expansion: He merged with the Taj Mahal casino and acquired the Trump Marina. A successful ad campaign boosted return visits and attracted newcomers.

In two years, Trump’s new casino empire grew from net revenues of $195 million in 1995 to a staggering $1.4 billion in 1997.

Sticking With a Stickie

Art Fry was annoyed. "I needed a bookmark that would stay put, yet could be removed without damaging my hymnal," Fry says. As a 3M researcher, he planned to invent a solution for this sticky problem.

Meanwhile, Fry’s colleague, Spencer Silver, was developing a tacky adhesive. In the process he inadvertently created an "unglue" that didn’t work well.

Fry learned of Silver’s flubber-like "mistake" and promptly envisioned the perfect bookmark. Fry prototyped the product and convinced 3M to test-market it. Post-it Notes were born.

Sent to secretaries, they were an instant hit. Today Post-it Notes are one of the five top-selling office products in the United States, and Dr. Silver’s "flubber" is now the basis for more than 200 products.

Writer: LeAnn Zotta.

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