Rejection Attempts

Rejection 98 - Take a Tour Underneath a Plane

Seeing your flight get delayed over and over again without end is one of my greatest fears. In fact, maybe I should do 100 Days of Being Stuck in Airports - flying all around the world without ever stepping out of airports. That would be cruel and character-building to the extreme. When unpleasantness happens, seeking rejection has become my go-to move to lighten things up. If you told me I could improve my mood by hearing ‘NO’ a few months ago, I would say you were crazy. Now, it works better than Cheezburger.com and a self-tickling machine combined.

Would the airline give me a tour underneath the plane? I would love to get a group picture with suitcases.

You might be curious how I could have fun while getting rejected. I've learned not to care too much about a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and how others perceive me. That has translated into an increase in my confidence, communications skills, and entrepreneurial drive. Just look at my first video and this one to see the difference.

Learning: Rejection itself is not inherently hurtful, especially if you detach yourself from the outcome and practice it over and over again.

Rejection 97 - Give a Speech on the Street

Based on my Google keyword search, there are 10 things people fear the most. On that list, I’ve already tried: #1 Fear of Flying and #3 Fear of Heights,

this entire blog is about tackling #8 Fear of Rejection,

and for now at least, I have no interest in confronting #6 Fear of Death #9 Fear of Spiders…

I want to take a shot at #2: Fear of Public Speaking.

Of course, I have done public speaking before and I have a great passion for it. However, my previous speeches were in places where people expected me to speak and were receptive to my message. What would happen I held up a sign on the street and give a speech there instead of in the auditoriums? Would people still welcome my message? The thought of that makes me want to throw up already. In fact, I might have to reconsider which is worse: public storytelling or spiders.

On my 97th rejection attempt, I made a sign and went to the streets of Austin, attempting to tell strangers my story.

As you can tell in my video, the toughest part was not the speech but the time leading up to it.

I keep shaking my head at how purely psychological fear can be. Even knowing that I shouldn't care about how others perceive me, and understanding that the worst that could happen is being ignored, the fear of being judged and rejected by strangers is still there. There was a classic book called Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway and that was the exact approach I took with this request. As soon as I opened my mouth and people stopped to listen, the rest was smooth sailing.

In the end, I am so glad I did it.

Learning: Sometimes no matter how hard you train yourself, the fear of rejection will still be there. However, you've strengthened yourself and minimized your enemy - fear. If you rely on the strength, and "feel the fear and do it anyway,” you will always be glad you did.

Jia Jiang's 2013 Commencement Address to The Hague University

One day, I received an email from a person named Tobias. He lives in the Netherlands and works for The Hague University of Applied Sciences. He asked me if I could make a short video to encourage the graduating students on overcoming rejection.

When someone asks me to do something that might take a lot of effort and without any compensation, I have a few choices to make. I could:

1. say no 2. say yes and do it as a quickly favor 3. say yes and give my best effort

I chose #3, because I believe in the cause. I love connecting with young people. They are the most overlooked crowd when it comes to rejection. Many times, the love and shelter we created for them make us feel that they don't experience rejection as much as adults do. I believe it is wrong.

In the United States, nearly 1 in 6 high school students has seriously considered suicide, and 1 in 12 has attempted it. That's an astonishingly sad number. One of the leading causes is that youth is the most vulnerable and least equipped group to handle social rejections. This is also magnified by the prevalence of bullying on social media.

Therefore, when Tobias made this request, I went through tens of hours of work to script, produce and film the video. As a former shy teenager who migrated to a new country, I understand the pain of rejection. I want to let the youth know that:

1. they are not alone; 2. rejections can make them stronger and smarter; 3. people like me turned out OK despite the rejections. :)

And in the end, I gave a commencement speech! How cool is that?

July 4th 2012 -The Day I Gained True Independence

It’s Independence Day. Last night, as my wife and I were watching the sky colored with beautiful fireworks, my mind went all the way back to exactly one year ago. It was the day that everything changed in my life.

7/4/2012, my then pregnant wife and I were also watching fireworks. We sat on the grass of a big community park, surrounded by other families cheering for the extravaganza. I was as depressed as a man could be. At the time, I was a six-figure-income earner at a Fortune 500 company. As the baby was getting close to make his debut in the world, my entrepreneurial dream was about to say goodbye. As the father of a newborn child, I was supposed to provide financial security. It was time to lock up my dream of becoming a world-class entrepreneur for good. I didn’t make the jump when I had the chance. It was too late then. Game over!

As the firework glared in the sky, I was visualizing the rest of my life unfolding. I would someday get another promotion, manage more people, double my salary, buy a new car, and grow my 401K. We would have another baby or two. Every year we would engage in the cycle of school-summer vacation-school-holidays. Eighteen cycles later, my kids would go to college, and we would be old. I would help my employers sell a lot of products, develop a lot of processes, and train a lot of employees. I would have made no real impact in the world, and I would die full of regret someday.

“Crap”, I murmured as the mental slideshow of my future ended on a funeral scene. “What’s wrong?” My wife was concerned. “I missed the boat, and my life is going to suck”, I replied. As I explained what just went through my mind, I was expecting a wife educating her husband on how to be dependable, grateful and content. Instead, she said, “If you aren’t happy, I am not happy. You know, I married a man with the dream and ambition to change the world. You need to give me that man. “

We then sat down and devised an entrepreneurial plan that involved quitting my job, building a startup for six months, and deciding on what happens next based on traction. The next day, I called my manager and gave my resignation. Two weeks later, I surrendered my badge and walked out of the office one last time. And four days after, I held my son as he came to the world. I shocked everyone - colleagues, family, friends, and even myself.

Exactly one year later, as I was holding my wife’s hands watching another firework show, I knew I was lucky to have married this amazing woman. I was also fortunate to have divorced my dependence on the false sense security that came with a regular job. Yes, a paycheck every two weeks is good. But if the prices were abandoned dreams, an unfulfilled life, and irreversible regret, then no matter how large the number is on that check, it would not be worth it.

July 4th is to celebrate a nation’s independence from a foreign government. For all the entrepreneurs, artists, and professionals who want to make a difference in the world, it should also serve as a reminder that we need to be independent of the false sense of security, and celebrate our freedom to pursue our passion and dreams. We only live one life, and why not live to the fullest?

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.

Do What You Believe In Despite Fear Of Rejection

As the last few rejections loom, I wanted to do something memorable to myself. One of which was to stand on a street corner of downtown Austin and tell the world a story. If people stop by and listen, they will have accepted me. If they keep on walking, they will have rejected me. My wife gave me the idea. After hearing it, I started pondering it with a hand on my face. My wife looked at me and said, “I see fear in your eyes”. ‘Damn’, I said to myself, am I not supposed to be fearless by now? After almost 100 rejection requests, why am I still bothered by this idea? People on the street won’t know me, and it won’t matter if they think I am crazy or mock me. I am not, or not supposed to be afraid of rejection anymore!

But the fact is, I am still scared. To be honest, I was scared before I did many of these rejection requests. However, I did them despite my fear, and I am proud of that.

Many people emailed me asking how to get rid of the fear of rejection. There are a few things you can do, and rejection therapy is one of them. However, you will never completely get rid of the fear. As long as we are human, there will always be that fight-or-flight instinct. Doing things you believe, regardless how much it scares you, makes you fearless.

For me, I am still scared of going to a public place and tell the world a story. But I will still do it, because of my commitment, and because I am trying to be a fearless human. If FDR was right, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. Well, I am going to kick my fear to the curb.

Guest Post by Davis Nguyen – 100 Learnings

From Jia - One day, I received an email from a fan named Davis Nguyen. He sent me a list of things he learned from my 100 Days of Rejection Therapy. I receive a lot of emails, but this is the most comprehensive and detailed learning summaries I have read. And I want to share the email with you.  Davis is an economics major at Yale University. When he’s not solving for Nash Equilibriums, he is helping introverts improve their confidence and overcome their fears of rejection. He was inspired by my journey and wrote a book on overcoming fear of rejection and getting others to say Yes, which is available for free on his blog.  @SpeakfortheMeek

 

We all hate being rejected, yet it is something we deal with every day. We have our ideas turn down, our requests rejected, and invitations declined. The feeling of having someone tell us “no” is hard for anyone to deal with.

Nearly 6 months ago, Jia Jiang decided to make an effort and overcome his fear of rejection. It has been a long journey and Jia has come a long way since asking a stranger to borrow $100.

On his path, Jia shared with us his successes, his failures, and his lessons learned. From his videos, we can see that Jia has grown a great amount, but like many of you, I also have learned a lot from just watching Jia.

In honor of Jia nearing the competition of his 100 Days of Rejection Therapy, I wanted to share with you and our community a list of 100 life lessons I have learned from Jia’s amazing journey.

On Confidence

  1. You don’t get what you wish for, you get what you work (or ask) for.
  2. To grow, you need to do things that are outside your comfort zone.
  3. Confidence is everything. Have it and you will go far.
  4. Even if you are faking confidence, if you believe it is real, no one will be able to tell.
  5. Don’t worry about what other people think.
  6. Ask for what you want. This includes acknowledgement from others.
  7. Be authentic; be yourself.
  8. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  9. Learn to take criticism.
  10. Learn to take and give compliments.
  11. It never hurts to try.

On Courage

  1. When things go wrong remember that few things are as bad as they first seem.
  2. Giving up and moving on are two different things.
  3. It is okay to be vulnerable.
  4. Courage is resistance to fear, not absence of it.
  5. The opposite of courage is not cowardice but conformity.
  6. To know your true courage you have to face your biggest fears.
  7. People are people, don’t be afraid to approach them.
  8. Have the courage to ask, because you never know what you will get.
  9. When you have the courage ask, you might not get what you expected but it will still be worthwhile.
  10. Telling someone they’re ugly, doesn’t make you any smarter. (When people judge you, they are judging themselves.)

On Communication

  1. You can’t win an argument.
  2. Listening skills are key to successful interactions.
  3. Acknowledge those who have helped you.
  4. There are two sides to every story.
  5. There is always room to negotiate.
  6. Negotiating one-on-one is easier than in a group.
  7. If you don’t ask, the answer is already no.
  8.  “Why?” is the most powerful question.
  9. Talk directly with the decision-maker.
  10. Ask for things people have control over.
  11. Having people on your side from the inside helps.
  12. Humor makes life and conversations easier.
  13. Use Humor wisely and in the right places.
  14. Don’t assume others know what you mean.

On Success

  1. If you do what others do, you can expect what others expect.
  2. If you really want something you’ll find a way, otherwise you’ll find an excuse.
  3. Successful people read…a lot.
  4. Having a positive mind pays for itself.
  5. Be a life-long learner.
  6. Attitude is everything.
  7. Be proactive.
  8. Life is too short do something you hate; follow your dreams.
  9. Be as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are of your own.
  10. When you fail, try again.
  11. The “right opportunity just around the corner” isn’t coming to you, so walk to it.

On Happiness

  1. Making one person smile can change the world. Maybe not the whole world, but their world.
  2. Regardless of the situation, life goes on.
  3. You’ll feel better by giving than receiving.
  4. Smile a lot.
  5. Laugh a lot.
  6. Have fun.
  7. When you have the power, grant someone their wish.
  8. Make someone’s day.
  9. Be willing to help, even when you’re not asked.
  10. Your life is only as interesting as you decide to make it.

On Rejection

  1. Rejection isn’t the end of the world.
  2. Rejection is just one person’s opinion.
  3. When people reject you, ask why.
  4. When you reject someone do it positively.
  5. What’s worst than rejection is self-rejection.
  6. Don’t be embarrassed by your request.
  7. Requests that are fun are less likely to be rejected.
  8. Learn from your rejections.
  9. Whom you ask matters.
  10. How you ask matters even more.
  11. Practice helps with the above two.

On Business and Entrepreneurship

  1. Company culture is everything to business success.
  2. Happy Employees = Happy Customers.
  3. Know when to cut your losses.
  4. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
  5. Get feedback from customers.
  6. When things are bad, turn the tables around.
  7. Be honest and transparent.
  8. If you are an expert at something, there is someone who is willing to learn from you.
  9. Even you fail you learn a lot.
  10. If you don’t have a plan, you are truly planning to fail.

Love/Friendship/Relationships

  1. Choose your spouse carefully; they will either make life easier or harder.
  2. Follow the golden rule: treat others like you want them to treat you.
  3. Better, follow the platinum rule: treat others like they would want to be treated.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  5. Support your partner; even if they have a wild idea, because you never know how much they will flourish from your support.
  6. There are a lot of things you could be doing, but that doesn’t mean you should do any more than you are doing. Enjoy life. Slow down.
  7. Treat everyone well no matter if they are the company CEO or the Welcome Greeter.
  8. Taking the time to check in to close friends doesn’t make you anymore money, but you get a feeling that money can’t buy.
  9. Care for others and they will care for you.
  10. Kindness goes a long way.

Miscellany

  1. Become an expert at something even if it is rejection.
  2. Have a Plan B.
  3. Have a Plan C.
  4. Silence is powerful.
  5. People are more likely to help you than you think.
  6. Having a great mentor goes a long way.
  7. Be a mentor.
  8. Be willing to teach others.
  9. What you really want might be closer than you think.
  10. Life means more than just money and fame.
  11. The outcome isn’t always as important as the journey.
  12. Nice people do exist in the world.
  13. Begin; every journey begins by taking the first step.

Rejection 95 - Borrow a Book from Barnes & Noble

In the past few rejection attempts I have failed to get a rejection, even with the most ridiculous request (flying a plane). I almost felt as if the pain desensitization effect was wearing off. So this time, I again went to a big corporation – Barnes & Noble, to get some Rejection Therapy treatment. I tried to borrow a book from them as if they were a library.

I received the same answer after two tries. They even both provided good alternatives: buying a book then returning it in good condition or sitting in the coffee house and reading it there. Maybe it was the smiles, or the tones they used, but the rejections felt they felt very different. In the end, the rejections were given by two different people with very different personalities.

We often think customer service reps are cogs within giant corporate machines. While they are different across company lines (Apple Genius’ = cool, cable reps = not so much), they somehow should all have similar personalities within the same company. In reality, they are just regular people like you and me, and sometimes vastly different from each other.

Learning: They say beauty is in the eye of the beholders. I say rejection is in the tone of the rejectors. When you are already saying 'no' to someone, be nice. :)

Rejection 94 - Grow A Dollar 10 Times

There are two emotions that drive me most - fear and curiosity (Okay, my love for Starbucks is up there too, but that's another story). It was the fear of rejection and my curiosity about how humans behave that led me to do my 100 Days of Rejection Therapy. Meanwhile, a lot of us have heard the story of One Red Paperclip, where a guy used social media to trade a red paper clip a few times up all the way to a house. I want to try the same thing, but with a twist of Rejection Therapy. Instead of using social media, I plan to knock on real doors 10 times in an unknown neighborhood and see what I can get with a dollar bill. I am afraid of knocking on stranger's doors but I am curious to see the results. Fear and curiosity teamed up, yet again.

Would I end up with something worth more than a dollar, less than a dollar, or nothing but a bunch of rejections?

After the helmet, I would be lying to say I wasn't fantasizing a little bit about receiving a house. If I knocked on 100 doors maybe I would get it, but getting a house wasn't the game. In fact, it was never about getting things but seeing the power of trade and asks. Indeed, I felt better about giving away the helmet than getting it.

This brought along another thought - in sales, people focus on making the sale rather than giving the pitch. If someone goes through a perfect sales pitch, but the customer doesn’t buy it is considered a failure, or at least a non-success. However, in my experience it was giving the pitch that was the most fun, not the results. I could control what I said but couldn't control people's reactions. So why should I define success by something I can't control?

Learning: 1. Try this attitude - ask and trade, prepare to be amazed.

2. Don't focus on the results which you can't control, but on the actions which you can control. In one of my favorite leadership books, Wooden on Leadership by UCLA's legendary basketball coach, John Wooden, the old coach explained his philosophy of working on controllable actions rather than uncontrollable results. In fact, it was his relentless focus on actions that produced the results - 10 NCAA championships.

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 92 - Fly a Gyroplane

When someone wants to be rejected with all their heart, it takes a strong imagination to come up with a request so impossible that it's embarrassing to even try. Today, to demonstrate rejection to the visiting documentary crew - Wayward Nation, I came up with an idea – drive to an airfield and ask a random pilot if we can fly his plane. Considering everything that could go wrong with flying a plane, there is absolutely no way he would say ‘yes’ to this request... right?

There were times I was surprised, there were times I was shocked, and there was the one time I was speechless. This was that time.

As I was going in and out of clouds or skimming over cornfields, I asked myself: what if I had never asked? I would not have had the best flight of my life. I would not even have had regret, because I would not have known such thing was possible. My 100 Days of Rejection Therapy has demonstrated one principle over and over again - you will never get it if you don't ask first.

Of course, when someone says ‘yes’ to my request, there is always some motivation. It could be intrinsic ones such as helping me and seeing the smile on my face, or extrinsic ones such as letting me know about what he is doing. In this case, I suspect there was a little of both and he admitted as such.

Learning:

1. The Bible says "Seek and ye shall find.” Rejection Therapy taught me "Ask and ye could receive.”

2. Don't be embarrassed by your request, because the other person might be motivated to say ‘yes’. The best requests provide a win-win outcome for all parties involved.

Rejection 91 - Learn a Martial Arts Master's Favorite Move

Legend has it that in ancient China, traveling Kung Fu masters could walk into a Kung Fu academy and challenge the incumbent master to a fight. Upon victory, the traveler would take over the academy and its pupils. I had the ambition and fantasy to try it myself in modern America while turning it into a rejection request. However, if the master said yes; it would result in jail time, hospital visits, and pretty expensive bills for me. Being realistic, I walked into a Taekwondo studio and asked to learn the master’s favorite move instead.

Would the master teach me, reject me… or worse?

The master didn’t look like Mr. Miyagi or sound like Chuck Norris. But based on the internationalization and cross-pollination of martial arts, I am not surprised. And based on his build and experience, I am glad I chose to go with the humble request instead of the fantasy one.

I found him to be very nice person who genuinely wanted to introduce me to Taekwondo, its philosophy, and his studio. Yet, I really wished he could have demonstrated a few moves for me. I might have even signed up for a trial as the result. Well, you can’t expect a martial arts master to kick butt like Bruce Lee and sell like Steve Jobs.

Learning: One time at Costco, I saw a Little Giant Ladder salesman demonstrating his ladders to customers. He put one up, slid one leg out, unfolded it, refolded it, pulled it around… I was mesmerized and felt as though my life with be incomplete if I didn’t spend $200 then and there to buy that ladder. It taught me a great lesson in sales – “Show, don’t tell”.

Afraid of Rejection? I Will Ask It for You!

My rejection therapy is coming to an end. I have learned so much from my experience - negotiation, speaking, humor, dancing, sales... But the most important quality I have learned is fearlessness. I am not afraid of asking for anything from anyone, as long as I have a good reason for the request. Are you holding back from asking something due to the fear of rejection?

If you are:

1. Hear my new TEDx talk on Rejection vs Regret.

2. If that doesn't help, share your story with me at jia@fearbuster.com. I can help you to strategize and ask the right way.

3. If you are still afraid, let me know what it is and I can ask it for you.

Guest Post by Jennifer Martin - Asking Someone If You Can Work For Free

From Jia - Jennifer Martin owns Martin Correspondence; an online editing, review, and writing service.  She has been helping me to edit my post for my blog, minimizing grammatical and expression glitches. Through our partnership, I found Jennifer fast, responsible and great to work with. If you are a blogger, entrepreneur or author who needs editing service, you can learn more about her at www.MartinCorrespondence.com.    

I’ve been reading Jia’s 100 Days of Rejection since his Olympic Ring of Donuts went viral due to Jackie’s hard work, which she ended up giving for free.  I am sure if Jia ever craves doughnuts again, he will go back to Krispy Kreme and ask for Jackie.

It’s also fun watching Jia offer his own services for free many times in the course of his 100 Days of Rejection.  Maybe someone he asked to help will come ask for his services again, just like he will probably ask for Jackie’s help with doughnuts again?  At times offering free work can lead to a real partnership.

The first step is finding a person, company, or group with whom you want to work.  Once I read a Time magazine article about a group working to help rebuild and renew New Orleans where I was moving.  I loved their character and work.  On a whim, I took step two and made a request.  I emailed them to ask if they wanted help in exchange for room and board.  They said yes and let me name a monthly salary for myself.  The work was an amazing experience and it never would have happened if I hadn’t found a great group and simply asked.  This time has given me the courage to make big asks several other times, even though I am as scared of rejection as anyone (and have been rejected as often as everyone too).

More recently, I found Jia’s blog and loved his stories.  I had noticed his teaching personality and passion to share what he has learned from his own experiences with others.  Jia’s 100 Days of Rejection was a project I wanted to work with, so I offered my editing services for free, along with five edited posts along with my request.  He said yes!

Third, if accepted - build the partnership.  After offering your services for free, you can’t slack off.  You need to deliver on your offer and ideally over-deliver.  If you do create a true business partnership that is no longer free, keep up the hard work.  As many business schools teach, undersell and over-deliver.  Since Jia is still writing 100 Days of Rejection posts, I know we have 11 more blog articles to work on together.

Point Three-B (in case they reject you) is to handle it with grace, thank the rejector and move on to the next request.  You never know who will remember you further down the road and either recommend your services to someone else or call you back later.  Even if they never do, it is always important to… “…in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,” (Matthew 7:12a).  Imagine if roles were reversed and you had to reject someone’s free offer, wouldn’t you rather they thanked you politely for considering the request and then moved on graciously?

So in summary, I learned:

  1. Find people, organizations, and groups with whom you want to work.
  2. Reject your own fear, and make the request.

3.a. If accepted, work hard to undersell and over-deliver.

3.b. If rejected, say thank you and move on graciously.

Have you found an organization you’d love to partner with and could even start with volunteering or some free work?  Have you ever made a big ask for yourself?  Were you rejected or accepted?

Rejection 90 - Get a Ride on a Bucket Truck

Six month ago I was working in my office on the 16th floor, the tallest in the building. I saw the high-rise window cleaners climbing down a rope on the side of the building, washing the windows outside floor by floor. I asked myself: how much would they have to pay me to do this as a regular job? $100 an hour? $200 an hour? The number kept going up and up. And every time I started to be tempted to take the imaginary deal; I started thinking about my wife, my kid, and how much my life means to them. I then tore up the imaginary offer and said NO with an imaginary stern voice to the imaginary hiring manager. I went on to pat myself on the back for being a good husband and father... imaginary rejection never felt so good. But deep down, I knew I turned it down because heights are scarier to me than any movie scene with zombies and ghosts. Today as I was walking by a store, I saw two people working on a bucket truck. I have always had a secret desire to climb on top of one of those and move around in the air. It seems cool and thrilling and not as scary as the height of skyscrapers. Therefore, as part of my Rejection Therapy I approached them and asked for the ride of my life. Did I get it?

If I can experience thrills like this once a day for the rest of my life, the Dos Equis Man would be offering to exchange lives with me!

Learning: After we graduate school and enter the professional world, we always live our lives as if they were planned or part of a large scheme. We rarely do spontaneous and fun things anymore. But we should! Whether we get a rejection or not, these things make life much more colorful and worth-living.

Rejection 89 - Skate at Sonic

When asking a favor, it is one thing to ask for something completely harmless but another entirely when it involves something a little risky. Today I tried to see if I could borrow a pair of skates at Sonic and skate around their restaurant. Sonic is known for having skating servers to serve food to parked customers. Would they allow me to skate and have fun? Or would they be afraid of the liability, were I to slip and fall during my adventure?

The one truth I have found about great customer service is that the best customer service representatives look for opportunities to accommodate, rather than reject. In this case, the manager minimized the risk of liability by having me sign a waiver. That way she could both ensure customer happiness and minimize her risks. I wish all customer services people could be like her.

Learning: The Bible teaches people to, "be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." (Matthew 10:16). This should be the motto for all great customer service teams. Say 'yes' to customers, but in case things go wrong, make sure your employer is also protected.

Rejection 88 - Play Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock With a Stranger

Through rejection therapy, I found that among all the crazy requests that challenges are the most likely to be accepted. They tap into people's basic interests for competition, curiosity, and fun. For example, when I challenged a stranger to a foot race, I got a 'yes'. When I challenged a CEO to a staring contest the CEO didn't show up…but the VP of Marketing did. However, those challenges have rules that are easily understood and accepted. What if I challenge someone with a game that's not previously known and I had to explain it? Would the ambiguity become an obstacle strong enough to get a rejection?

Based on a suggestion from Jason Comely, the inventor of the Rejection Therapy game, I learned and challenged a stranger to a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock.

Yes, I missed a few lines but it didn't really matter. Although one instance doesn't prove a theory it does make me wonder: maybe the fact that I had to explain the rules made the challenge more interesting to him. Because it taps into one more human interest – knowledge-seeking. If a friendly looking guy comes to me trying to teach me a game, I would say 'yes' too.

Learning: While people are busy and averse to abnormality in their lives, a well-placed knowledge gap might not hurt our requests. After all, we all want to learn something new.

Rejection 87 - SkyJump off a Building (rejecting my fear)

We mostly consider rejections as inter-personal experiences, with one person rejecting another, and the results are always undesirable. In reality, self-rejections happen a lot more frequent, and for good and for bad reasons. A bad reason for self-rejection is that a person is afraid to be rejected by others, so he rejects himself to avoid the imagined pain. As I explained in my talk - Rejection vs Regret, this type of self-rejection is very counter-productive. It prevents us from obtaining the opportunities and beauty life has to offer.

On the other hand, a good self-rejection, if used correctly, is amazingly useful. For example, an ex-Navy Commander and the author of the wonderful leadership book Turn the Ship Around!, David Marquet once chatted with me about him having to reject his own military leadership mentality in order let his employees shine with their creativity.

For me, like many others, I am terrified of height. One night, I listened to Dina Kaplan, the founder of blip.tv giving a keynote talk about her overcoming her fear of height. She did so by doing a bungee jump, and felt completely liberated afterward. She then encouraged the audience to do the same.

Feeling compelled, I challenged myself that night to reject my own fear by doing the SkyJump off Las Vegas' Stratosphere, the highest controlled free fall in the world (108th floor).

Standing on the edge of the tower, I knew the only thing between an amazing experience (jump) and regret (retreat) was my own fear. It was a gruesome war of emotions in my head, heart and stomach, and it took every ounce of courage I had. Once in the air, as I was engulfed in the amazing sensation of flying, I realized how sweet victories, especially the ones over myself, can feel.

Learning: we can discuss, analyze and "wait for the right opportunity to conquer" fear all day long, but nothing happens unless we make the jump. Just like rejection therapy, the only way to cure a fear is to confront it head-on.

Rejection 86 - Pictures with Strangers

When visiting places, we love to take pictures with both man-made and natural attractions, or even animals and plants that are unique to the area. However, we rarely stop and take pictures with people, who are not only vastly different from place to place, but also integral part of that place. While visiting New York, I learned how fast and easily one can get rejected. Now, will strangers on the street allow me to take pictures with them?

Looking back at this episode, I can't help but feel very surprised. It felt very similar to the episode when I asked strangers at Costco to give me compliments - uncomfortable but satisfying. However, this time, when they asked me 'why', I gave them a very good 'why'. 'Why' has become my favorite word.

Learning: Archimedes once famously said “give me a place to stand, and a lever long enough, and I will move the world.” We can't move the world, but if we have a good 'why', and the courage to ask, we can ask for anything.