During your job search, you will want to learn all you can from highly successful people. You can learn directly from family, friends, mentors, and coaches, and from colleagues you can trust.

Another great way to learn how highly successful people got that way is to read their biographies. Here are two life stories that will inspire you to maintain hope and display genuine optimism.

Good Day! The Paul Harvey Story, by Paul J. Batura

At age 82, Paul Harvey signed a ten-year contract with ABC, for $10 million per year. When he died in 2008 at age 90, he had completed eight of those years. Sounds like a plush, easy life, don’t you think?

This book, though, takes you behind the scenes to learn what Paul Harvey would have termed “the rest of the story.” Consider these little known facts:

*He grew up in very modest circumstances, especially after his policeman father died after being shot by car thieves. Paul was three years old.

*His early opportunities with the microphone took him to Salina, Kansas, and Missoula, Montana, with nothing there resembling Chicago’s “Miracle Mile” that would become so familiar to him years later.

*His station owner in Missoula told Paul, “You have a silly and funny sounding voice. Honestly, you’re never going to make it in the news business. You don’t have a believable sound for news. It’s distracting. People won’t trust it.” Following those words, the manager fired Paul Harvey, who declined a sales position offer.

*A Chicago station manager disliked Paul Harvey’s on-air vocal pauses. The manager thought Harvey was simply wasting valuable time. After listening politely, Paul agreed to “shorten but not entirely eliminate the tactic.” Eventually, many millions of Paul Harvey’s listeners would recognize his trademark pauses, and stand by patiently until the next intriguing words came.

Now please notice: Paul Harvey became one of the most beloved broadcasters ever. Suppose he had become discouraged at his unpromising childhood? What if he had listened to his critics? What if he had changed his style, to blend in with the bland?

The book tells, too, about his lifelong romance with his wife, called “Angel” in his hundreds of broadcast references to her. She became a valuable personal and professional teammate—reflecting convincingly that few people make it to top echelons without solid family dedication.

Mark Twain: A Life, by Ron Powers

As was the case with Paul Harvey, Mark Twain met failure head on.

*Although he emerged as one of America’s most popular—and highly paid—lecturers on the speaking circuit, probably he never forgot the evening of October 2, 1866. The event: His opening lecture for a series describing his “Sandwich Island” voyage, an extended excursion from San Francisco to Honolulu. The lecture hall: the new Academy of Music, with a seating capacity of 2,000.

When he rose to face the audience, “nearly blinded by the footlights, trembling with terror, frozen in place of a full minute, he finally gained control of himself.”

*Nor was Mark Twain blessed with a classic broadcast-caliber voice. One reporter compared it to “a little buzz saw slowly grinding inside a corpse.”

Still, though he was not specially gifted and though he froze on opening night, he persisted and made a great name for himself on the lecture platform.

*The book details other major struggles. Twain’s speculative investments kept him dangerously deep in debt, despite his writing and speaking royalties. He stubbornly pursued “sure winners” that flopped, especially patents for inventions. Doggedly determined, he emerged from financial ruin later in life.

Again, I encourage job seekers to read these biographies. You will enjoy the fascinating life stories, and you will benefit from knowing that people who have climbed to the top professionally, and have even become legends, endured many a misstep along the way.