Rejection 99 - Ask Strangers to Rate My Look

How good do I look to the public eye? What would happen if I ask strangers to rate my looks, from 1-10? As a happily married man, I care much less about looking attractive in front of others now than I did when I was single. However, I would be lying to say that I’ve never considered the first question. And the second question? It would be a very scary proposition, both asking the question and hearing the answers. This is rejection seeking, doing something scary and understanding just how scary it could be.

This experiment turned out to be much easier than I originally imagined. People are nice and more than willing to give me high scores. And yes, it helped that I showered, put on a clean shirt, and took off the old-man socks as requested. Yet, it again showed how much scarier our imagination is than the real world. I couldn’t get a low score when tried. I was in fact secretly hoping for a 2 just to get a taste of rejection, but it didn’t happen.


1. Our imagination often takes us to the worst possible outcome, causing us to be much less likely to take that action. We are really our own worst rejectors.

2. People are rarely mean, or brutally honest to others in personal settings. When you ask for feedback, understand that the answer could be skewed.

Rejection 96 - Interview a Female Bodybuilder for a Reader

Throughout my 100 rejections quite a few requests originated from my readers/viewers. In terms of strangeness, this one today is near the top. And in term of the requester's persistence, this one beats number two by a mile... or 44 miles. John, also known as Casino2004 on Youtube, sent me 44 messages asking me to interview a female bodybuilder. For me the most important question is never 'what', but 'why'. He explained that he is attracted to female bodybuilders, but was often blown off by them. Fearing rejection, he asked me to interview one on his behalf.

I often think that every rejection has a number. If you meet that number, the rejection will turn into an acceptance. For this request, the number is 44. Today, I found a local female bodybuilder online named Melanie Daly and sat down with her for an interview. Oh, I didn't forget about my own crazy request. Wait until the end.

After this episode I learned that not everyone can be Oprah Winfrey and Larry King. I might be there someday but today isn't that day.

I also learned that people who pay the most attention to their appearance, whether as a model or as a bodybuilder are very sensitive or even insecure about how they look. People like John aren't the only ones afraid of rejections, the rejectors are also afraid.

Learning: 1. Everyone is afraid of rejection. EVERYONE! To engage in genuine human connection we need to minimize the effect of fear as much as we can. When we aren't afraid, we help others to be less afraid and we are all better for it.

2. Rejection is often a numbers game. If you want something bad enough and try it over and over again, you might just get it.

Rejection 93 - Play Pick-Up Line Tournament With Random Ladies

As someone who is happily married, I never do any rejection attempts that might land me on the couch for the night. However, I understand romantic rejection is one of the most painful and personal forms of rejections. So to help people, I did some negotiation and collaboration with my wife, and came up with ideas that would delight and interest her, without hurting her feelings. For example, if I gave pick-up line rejection requests to girls and they said yes, I would be staring at remorse, regret and possibly worse, with a burning magnifying glass. However, it would be safe and fun to see what happens if I ask girls to critique my pick-up lines. Today, I came up with a tournament game for eight bad pick-up lines. Would random ladies agree to hear them? Or would my pick-up lines, along with my request to share them, be rejected?

Rejection Therapy never ceases to surprise me and be fun. First of all, during my experiment, no ladies pepper sprayed me or threw a cold drink in my face. In fact, it seemed like some of the ladies couldn't wait to hear my lines. This got me thinking, if the goal of pick-up lines is to be a conversation starter with a stranger, could asking someone to critique a line actually be a good pick-up line in itself?

Second, the winning line was one of my least favorite. Before the exercise, I couldn't imagine picking up a rock on the sidewalk with that line. This proves one enduring business principle - what you like may not matter to your customers, especially if you and your customers have very different tastes and values. There was one example of a CEO forcing his fashion design advertising team to do a commercial for business attire centered on a suit clad man on a horse. His only reason was because he grew up wanting to be a cowboy. The CEO’s career didn't last long, and the commercial was even shorter.

Learning: 1. Curiosity is a strong emotion we all share. If you want to get people's interests, ask them a question that they want answered.

2. If you are in business learn from your customers. They are the ones paying your bills, not your ego. If you are an entrepreneur, read Eric Ries's instant classic, the Lean Startup. It teaches people how to use customer feedback to make the best product.

Rejection 84 - Draw Portrait of Strangers (with Dom Rabrun)

On streets filled with strangers, I have learned that people don't always accept money or trivial services from others. However, what if the services offered are artistic and personal in nature, such as drawing their portraits. Would people more likely to accept or reject it? To find out, an emerging artist - Dominick Rabrun and I set out to do this rejection request. For background, Dominick is a DC based artist who has reached out to me to interview and draw me at the same time. He has also experienced many rejections in his project to interview people and was looking for some advice. In this video, prepare to be amazed by what Dominick did:

Looking back, I don't know how many of us would say 'no' to his request, since having one's portrait drawn feels like an enormous honor, in both modern and ancient times. There is a reason royalties and politicians from the past all entertained paintings and sculptures of themselves.

In a way, because of his artistic skills, Dominick possesses the persuasive power that 99% of us don't have. However, why did he still receive many rejections with his interview request? What can he do to increase his success rate?

Based on my learning from 100 Days of Rejection Therapy, here are three suggestions for Dominick to try:

1. Focus actions over outcomes, as described at 2'07 of the above video.

2. Start with why, as described at 2'25 of the above video.

3. Find a picture of the potential interviewee using Google Image, draw an unfinished version of the portait, and send it to him/her along with the interview request. Make it clear that the interview would be to complete the unfinished portrait, rather than to start a new one. Studies have shown that people are much more willing to continue and finish an existing effort than to start a new one.

Just like Dominick, we all have something special about us. It might not be artistic skills, but could be cooking, humor, swimming, talking to people, honesty, diligence, creativity... or rejection. We can all draw inspiration from this video:

Rejection 54 - Dance With My Waitress

After going through more than 50 episodes of rejection therapy, I have been through a lot. I stood in front of a crowd giving a speech, made an announcement in an airplane over 100 passengers, and knocked on strangers' doors. I started to feel so fearless that I could ask for anything from anyone. However, when my wife suggested that I ask my waitress for a dance in the middle of a restaurant, I started sweating like I was in a Turkish bath. After mustering my courage, I made the request. Here is what happened:

Former NFL star Jason Taylor said "doing (Dancing With The Stars) is actually more nerve-wracking than a game day in the NFL". I'm not a star but I can somewhat relate to it now. I kept thinking why this one was so tough for me? Is it because asking to dance with a woman is an inherently difficult act for a man? Or is it because dancing in the middle of a crowded restaurant is potentially embarrassing? Or is it because I am really bad at dancing in general? In any case, I tried the same thing again in a parking lot, and felt so much more at ease. My 'practice' paid off.

Learning: No matter how difficult, scary or absurd the situation is, practice helps. If you are hindered by fear of rejection, or anything else, just do it, and do it again. You will get better.

Rejection 35 – Ask a Girl Out To Dinner

Rejection hurts, and the fear of rejection cripples. One of the most dreaded rejections comes from romantic settings, where people often associate rejection of the request (going out on a date) with rejection of the person. That's why many people are very afraid to approach the opposite sex with romantic requests. Based on how many people have requested that I randomly ask girls out as one of my rejection sessions, I believe you agree with me. However, since I am married with a kid, I will not do it as a date request. Rather, with my wife's blessing and encouragement, I asked girls out for dinner with both my wife and me.

This was one of the requests that my desire leaned heavily toward a rejection, even though I had much fun in the process. The prospect of having dinner with a stranger is somewhat exciting, but could also be awkward. Since I had this concern as a requester, one can only imagine how tough it would be to get an acceptance from the requested.

In term of romance, although I am not a relationship or pickup expert, as a person in a blissful marriage, I gained some perspective in this request. Whether or not I get a 'yes' here doesn't change the fact that my wife loves me and is very attracted to me. That's really all that matters. Moreover, even in a hypothetical world where I still hadn't met my wife yet, it still doesn't change the fact there is a woman (my future wife), who is a perfect match for me, would love me and be attracted to me. I just haven't met her yet. So even if I get rejected 100 more times, I shouldn't be discouraged, because I simply need to keep looking to find my wife.

Learning: When you get turned down with a date request, don't equate rejection with the idea that you are not attractive. You just haven't met your match yet. Keep looking!

P.S  Because so many people have been inspired to also try out these rejection attempts on their own, I've put together a free downloadable PDF "100 Days of Rejection" checklist where you can go out and make these rejection attempts on your own! In the PDF I've also included my Rejection tool kit, which shows you the 5 most powerful ways to turn rejection into opportunity.Download Free Rejection Checklist!

Day 21: Ask Strangers for Compliments

Dan Ariely, the bestselling author of Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality, and my professor at graduate school, proposed an interesting experiment for my day 14 Rejection Therapy: give $5 to five random people Now his crazy mind is back at it again. On Day 21, he proposed that I ask for compliments from strangers and see if I get rejected. The theory is that people are reluctant to ask/give compliments to others. However, when it happens, everyone is happy afterward. Is he correct on both of those two hypotheses?

The first one was one of the hardest rejection attempts I have ever done. It was more awkward than asking my homecoming date 12 years ago. However, as I kept at it, I started enjoying it much more, and in the end, I loved it. The compliments to me, though solicited, were from strangers. They indeed made me feel very happy and confident.

Learning: 1. People are more than willing to say nice things about others when given the opportunity. As my rejection therapy suggests, it could be harder to reject giving compliments than to agree to it. 2. Compliments, in a way, is like sex for married couples. In Paula Szuchman's book It's Not You, It's the Dishes, everyone thinks that the more sex the merrier for married couples, and they are completely free to do it. However they somehow set up emotional barriers so they don't get to enjoy it as much as we want. I feel the same way about compliments. We should all try this - asking/giving compliments to strangers or loved ones. I promise you will feel happier afterward.