Day 7 Rejection Therapy: Speak Over Costco’s Intercom

“So-and-so shoppers, the store will be closing in 5 minutes, please bring your…” You hear these words a lot while shopping. Have you ever had the urge to speak over the intercom yourself? I had the urge. Today, wearing my hidden camera, I tried to convince a manager to allow me to speak over their intercom to fellow shoppers at my favorite store, Costco.

I knew the chance of me getting a ‘yes’ was astronomically low, since no manager wants to lose his/her job over this crazy request. However, I tried hard to negotiate and even showed my membership card so he knew I was sincere. In the end, Costco is good at making its customers happy. When they say ‘no’ but then feed you, they know your mouth would be too busy chewing instead of saying bad things about them.

Learning: ‘No’ could be tough to swallow, but pizza and hotdog aren’t. A sure way to gain loyal fans is to make a concession while giving a rejection.

Day 6 Rejection Therapy: Play Soccer in Someone’s Backyard

I can’t remember the number of times I booted a soccer ball into someone’s backyard and had to either run away or knock on a stranger’s door to retrieve the ball, all the while fearing death. To get rid of that nightmare and overcome my fear once and for all I wore my hidden camera and knocked on some random guy’s house asking to play soccer in his backyard. The result was a huge surprise.

Learning: I found that when making a crazy request like this, confidence is important, and the other person can sense it immediately. If I give the aura that I know what I am doing, the chance of being accepted is much higher. And he might just say ‘yes’ because it’s “so off the wall and how can I say ‘no’ to that?”

Day 5 Rejection Therapy – Ask to Have a Tour in a Grocery Store Warehouse

Who hasn’t wondered how and where the nice aisles of food at grocery stores come from? If you haven’t, you need to have your curiosity gland checked by your doctor. I asked an employee to give me a tour at their warehouse.

Learning – Relying on people’s generosity and kindness can only go so far. Not everyone is Jackie at Krispy Kreme. Next time, if I encounter a ‘no’, I will ask for reason and try to deflect it or offer incentives.

Day 4 Rejection Therapy – Offer to Deliver Pizza

Have you ever dreamt of delivering pizzas? Dreamt of running through red lights with the pizza sign alight on top of my car, knocking on stranger’s doors hoping to see a gorgeous lady’s smiling face, cussing on my way back to the car since the tip isn’t even enough to buy gum. I am sure if James Bond couldn’t become a spy he would have been a perfect pizza delivery man.

To fulfill my dream while keep the Rejection Therapy going, I offered to help Dominos to deliver their next pizza. The result was not surprising. Maybe I didn’t have the look; maybe they expected an Asian dude to be on a bike, not in a car; or perhaps they saw me as a potential workplace rival. For some reason they rejected my offer. I am getting really good at being rejected.

The 100 Days Rejection Therapy

I am on a journey to become a great entrepreneur, drinking the smoothie blended with Steve Job’s charisma, Chris Gardner’s tenacity, Paul Graham’s judgment, Bill Gate’s ruthlessness, Warren Buffett’s longevity, and Marc Zuckerberg’s vision (or luck). However, since I’m not born with most of these traits, I need to acquire them through exercise, one-by-one.

To start, I’m tackling the low hanging fruit first. One thing I know for sure is that like most of you, I’m terrified of rejection. No, not in a romantic sense as I’m extremely happily married. However, I hate being judged and rejected in a business setting whether it’s being turned down when making a sale, or getting blasted after a pitch. I hate it! I hate it like Michelle Obama hates sleeves.

Now, I posted this question on the FounderDating forum (a fantastic community for startup founders) and its community manager suggested Rejection Therapy. The idea is to seek one rejection on purpose every day for 30 days, and thus desensitize oneself from the pain. Now that’s a fun idea! Not only I want to do it, but I will vlog it, and do it for 100 days. I won’t use any suggestion cards but will come up with stuff as I go for more fun. If you have any suggestions, let me know through email: jia at souplus.com, or Twitter @jiajiang. My goal is that 100 days from now I will be a fearless badass who couldn’t care less about rejection and judgment.

This is Rejection Therapy Day 1 – asking to borrow $100 from a stranger.

 

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

He will probably never play for the Bears… but he could own it one day. How do you know?

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.

No, that’s not me… yet

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?