Thoughts

Thoughts After Meeting Tony Hsieh - It Ain't About Me Anymore

I often wonder what billionaires are like in-person. Do they burn cash to fry lobster burgers? Do they wear cloths made off crocodile fur? Do they drive cars that can dance to YMCA? I also can't help but imagine what I would do if I had a billion dollars, and thought about building my own company to delight my employees and customers, writing books and speaking to inspire other entrepreneurs, investing in technologies that would make the world a better place, and improving my community to attract talented people from all over the world. Most importantly, I just want to be me, a down-to-earth guy who fights for a better tomorrow, with my dreams and struggles, strength and flaws, laughters and tears.

Then I met Tony Hsieh, a guy who is doing pretty much all that.

On one hand, it is thrilling to meet the future version of whom I want to become. On the other hand, I remembered the phrase from Ecclesiastes - "Is there anything of which one can say, 'Look! This is something new'?" Should I be happy that someone has already done it, or be depressed that someone has already done it?

After days of thinking, reflecting on rejection therapy, I think I found the answer - it shouldn't be about me anymore. Nor is it about Tony Hsieh, or Bill Gates, or Martin Luther King Jr. It is about making the world a better place. Whether you are a billionaire, a young entrepreneur, a waitress, a donut maker, a police officer, we all have the ability, gift and responsibility to deliver happiness, one person at a time.

When you, or someone else question if you can really make a positive difference in the world, the answer is 'yes'. Here is the proof.

Work For One Day at Big Commerce

On day 34 of my rejection therapy, I went out and looked for job, and got it at BigCommerce. I followed through with Jennifer and the company after the video, and will make it happen. Tomorrow, I will work there for one day. Here is a list of my possible tasks:

* Man the reception area, greet visitors, answer phone
* Prepare meeting space for All Hands meeting
* Put beer in fridge
* Run errands
* Inventory office supplies
* Spend some time with 'success squad' (on the phone with clients)
* Discuss major acquisition targets and potential IPO dates

OK, I added the last item on my own. Whatever the job is, I plan to do my best and leave a good impression for the day. I will also post my learnings and experiences through video or writeup. Stay tuned!

Rejection 25: Dance With a Dancing Santa

Very similar to Rejection 16: Ring a Bell For The Salvation Army, today's episode was about me spotting a person on the street whom I usually don't give a second thought to. That person was a dancing sign holder. I wanted to hold the sign for him and learn some dance moves from him.

Learning: 1. Someone finally taught me how to dougie 2. Life is so much more fun and colorful if we simply slow down and don't walk by everything.

100 Days Rejection Therapy Q&A

Hello fans of my blog. I have received hundreds of heart-warming messages from you through my blog, and thousands through Youtube. I am inspired and overwhelmed by your encouragement. I tried to reply to each message, then I started to feel I might need eye surgery or hand transplant. I will continue trying to respond to you, but I’m writing this Q&A to answer some of the most commonly asked questions. Q. Who am I?

A. My name is Jia Jiang (@jiajiang). I’m a proud husband and father in Austin, TX. I also own a technology startup called Hooplus. We are building a commitment management tool to help consumers and business to keep their promises, increase productivity and collaboration.

Q. Why am I doing this? A. In 11/2012, I was turned down by a prominent investor. I wanted the investment so bad that I had dreamt about it on five different occasions. The final rejection hurt as if Santa Claus showed up in person and told me he’s not real, and then ran away with my gifts.

I then turned inward, and wanted to focus on building myself with the necessary entrepreneurial skillsets. My experience revealed that my fear of rejection was real, so I wanted to tackle it first. I searched, and found Jason Comely’s Rejection Therapy concept through FounderDating Forum. I liked it so much and decided to do it right away, and vlog it to keep myself accountable to going through the whole 100 days.

Q. Is it working? A. Like magic blended with kungfu. If you see my first video, I was timid, apologetic and wanted to get out of there ASAP. Now, I can negotiate and even joke with each person.

Q. Should you try Rejection Therapy yourself? A. Absolutely! Many of you expressed that the more videos you watch, the less cringe-worthy they become. That suggests even watching the videos might have some therapeutic effect. However, I encourage all of you to try it on some level personally, because it really works. Maybe you will run into another Jackie in the meantime.

Q. How should you do it? A. You should develop your own rules. Here are the criteria I use: 1. They are fun/crazy. This is fun only if you have the mindset of having fun. 2. They are challenging but not totally unrealistic. In another word, what's stopping the other party from doing it is the craziness, not physics. 3. They are something you want to do. When you get a 'yes' if it ever happens, you should follow through. Therefore, pick something you would enjoy doing/receiving.

Q. What’s next? A. The journey just got started and I have 90 more days to go. Just because the honeymoon was like a dream, it doesn’t mean the rest of marriage doesn’t need to be experienced. We are going to experience this together, good and bad. Hopefully there will be more Jackies, Scotts and Roberts. But either way, there is no loss. That’s the beauty of Rejection Therapy.

Q. What about your suggestions? A. Your suggestions for crazy requests are amazing. I wish you could see them all. When they first start to come in, I kept a list. But now, we are looking at three years if I do them all. I want to overcome rejection, not marry it. However, I will try to blend in your suggestions as I go on, because your ideas are truly ingenious. Keep them coming!

Q. So will you do any crazy requests involve romance? A. No. I am blissfully married with a chubby 4 months old. No blog material, no matter how interesting, can undermine that.

Entrepreneurs, Do You Have the Stuff?... What Stuff?

Thanks for The Social Network, we now have more entrepreneur wannabes than athletes hopefuls. In fact, one can argue the startup VC/accelerator scene is nerds’ version of AAU basketball. However, for young athletes, you can kind of tell how good they will become by their 40 yard-dash, wingspan, vertical, three-point %, etc. For young wannapreneurs, what do we have? The IQ test or SAT scores are as useful as a Best Buy Salesman in judging entrepreneurial potentials. Do we have anything tangible to predict their future success? The Fat Kid

Publishers like Forbes or Inc. haven’t stopped trying. They pump out lists for successful entrepreneurs’ characteristics the same rate mice breed baby mice. You hear buzz words like ‘communication’, ‘vision’, ‘leadership’, ‘kickasseality’, etc. OK, I made the last one up. However, when you looked at Marc Zuckerberg at 19 or Jack Dorsey at 21, they looked nothing like the superheroes they are today. We don’t have an 800 score that you can show someone that says “yes, invest in me, and you’ll be the next Marc Andreessen”.

Moreover, the lack of tangible measurement often affects entrepreneurs more than others. We all dream to be the next Steve Jobs (without the dying young part), but do we know we have the stuffs? What stuff do we need to have? And how much?

Paul Graham and YCombinator have in a way revolutionized the angel investment industry with the institutionalization of entrepreneurial’ talent prediction. However, most investors/accelerators still rely on essays, interviews, anecdotes, gut-feelings and the Law of Large Numbers to make investment decisions. Now, that’s a worse way than stock-picking, college student admissions and the NFL draft, where they all have some tangible data as measurement or at least reference. Is it possible that someone can come up with a test or index that can make more reliable predictions on one’s entrepreneurial potentials? It will be not only helpful for investors, but for entrepreneur too. At least we will know what we need to work on personal wise.

I’m 31, Entrepreneur, Where Is My Senior Home?

A little about me: I was born in 1981 in China; I am married with a kid; I used to be a lot younger; And I want to be the next Steve Jobs. I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur and change the world… and become a reluctant billionaire in the meantime (it’s not about the money, but about the passion, right?). I remember Bill Gates visited Beijing in 95, and my 14 years old eyes sparkled and almost photokeratitised admiring at this living demi-god. He was so cool, so perfect, so delicious. I told myself, I want to be him one day. Then my entrepreneurial spirit went into hibernation due to the pressure from my family to find a job. College, work, graduate school, marriage, house, kid later, I all of a sudden woke up 30 years old one day. Damn it, I will never be on Inc.’s 30 Under 30 list! I cried to myself – if I don’t start my company now, I will never do it. So, with my wife’s support, I quit my job at a Fortune 50 company, and started my own tech startup – Hooplus (try it out, it’s cool). It’s been three months since I started my journey to build the next Google, and here are two words that describe my feeling – oh shit!

No, it’s not because startup is hard, although it is like climbing Mount Doom wearing a man thong. The reason is that I started reading books for inspiration, and I found I am now ancient in the startup world. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs became entrepreneurs before they found hair in their armpits. Page and Brin founded Google before they could legally drink. Even Andrew Mason, the petulant child of tech CEOs, started Groupon at 28. At 31, if I apply for YCombinator today, I would be in Paul Graham’s “Really Old” folder, if not “LOL” folder. Am I too old to make it? Actually, I will make it (time to squeeze in the irrational confidence), but it’s just not as cool to be a 35 years old millionaire now days when there are 24 years old billionaires running around.

What’s worse is that you see guys like Drew Houston, Tony Hsieh and Daniel Ek give talks everywhere. They are attracted to stages with a couch and 400 eager audiences like Asians parents are attracted to piano recitals. They talk about how they started their first business at 12, went to Harvard because their parents forced them to, and want to ‘inspire’ everyone to be entrepreneurs. OK, if they just want to brag and collect groupies, they are right on the money. But if they really want to inspire, they are failing miserably. Not everyone is as young and genius as them. For the thousands of 30 some years old entrepreneurs, their stories aren’t helping.

I’m 31, entrepreneur, and where is my senior home?