Rejection 33 – Grill My Own Meat at Salt Lick

I love Salt Lick BBQ. Their pork ribs, along with warm weather and no income tax, are the three things I enjoy the most about Texas. On the other hand, my wife cooks a mean steak. I often wondered what would happen if I take my own meat with my wife’s sauce and grill it on Salt Lick’s famous open pit. Since I’m doing rejection therapy, I am more than willing to give it a try.

I encountered an unexpected change when Hector invited me to view the pit without me asking. He was welcoming and a great representative of my favorite BBQ restaurant. However, when I asked my crazy request, he had to ask someone else (JT) for permission. When he did that, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. The layer between my direct contact (Hector) and the decision-maker (JT) was too much fiction, especially for a request that unusual and uneven.

Learning: It doesn’t matter how charming, friendly and comfortable the front-line contact is, you should always always try to negotiate with the decision-maker directly. When the front-line contact has no incentive to be your advocate, it makes especially no sense. People don’t like to give out rejections directly, but it is much easier to do so through another associate.

 

Rejection 32 – Get a Free Room at a Hotel

It’s Christmas day, and it’s bitter cold here in Austin. On Christmas, everything other than hotels and hospitals got shut down. Since I would welcome some warmth, I entered into Westin asking for a free room.

Through my rejection therapy, I have discovered that many times in business or everyday life negotiation, it’s more about yes/no. When you get rejected with your initial request, it doesn’t hurt if you can request something else. This is called “If you can’t do that” principle discussed in Robert Cialdini’s fantastic and classic book: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. In this case, I got to see the Heavenly Bed, which I have always heard, but never experienced. In the end, it was a win (rejection + see something interesting).

Learning: Go into every negotiation with a secondary goal in mind. If you can’t achieve your primary goal, ask for the secondary one. Your chance of getting a ‘yes’ would increase substantially with your secondary goal, since people really don’t like to reject others twice.

The Need For Rejection

My rejection therapy has reached a 31 days, which is a full-month. I have learned more about communication and human connection in the past month than I had in my two years of business school. I have learned how to make a crazy request, stay calm and negotiate. As the result, I’m getting many yeses lately. Some of you have expressed that I am not getting rejected enough. Looking at my rejection score (58%), I agree.

While I am ecstatic about my own progress and your support, I don’t want complacency to set in. A rejection therapy is supposed to be filled with rejections, especially the ones that are well thought out and executed, but still rejected. Moreover, rejection therapy is about getting out of my comfort zone. If I am getting comfortable with acceptances, I will need to look for more rejections.

There are things I can’t control, such as my appearance/accent (for good or for bad), my communication effort (I want to apply my learnings and do my best), and people’s reaction to my request. One thing I can control, however, is the degree of craziness of my request. To take it to the next level, I want to increase the difficulty of my requests. Feel free to email me at jia at fearbuster.com if you have suggestions. Please remember my criteria:

1. It is crazy and difficult, but physically possible and fun. Anything involves jail, hospital/mental institution, or rewriting physics won’t work, ie. I won’t ask someone to fly off the building.

2. It is something I’m willing to do. Exchanging underwear with strangers might be fun for the viewers, but not for the people doing it.

3. It is moral/ethical. I won’t undermine my family or make any false claim during my rejection session.

Thanks again for your support. Your heartwarming emails and comments are really making my journey a memorable and worthwhile one. I hope it is to you guys too.

I wish you a Merry Christmas!

Rejection 31 – Be Santa to a Santa

It’s the time of the year again – gifts, decoration and yes, taking your kid to Santa in the mall for pictures. I have always wondered that Santa probably sat there for hours and days for these pictures, and have hundreds, if not thousands of kids sitting on his laps. Now, we all have a kid in us. Does Santa want to sit in someone’s lap too?

On Day 31 of my rejection therapy, I went to the mall that Santa sits, and offered him my lap.

There is a reason that the phrase “return the favor” exists. Just like a massage therapist would enjoy a massage him/herself, a Santa would also enjoy sitting on someone’s lap.

Learning: Don’t be afraid to offer someone his/her own service. Don’t assume because that person does it everyday, he/she wouldn’t enjoy it done to him. After all, the golden rule says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Rejection 30 – Slide Down the Firepole at a Firestation

In one of my favorite song – Superman, by Five for Fighting, the lyric goes “even heroes have the right to bleed”. For firefighters, they bleed, sweet and risk their lives to save lives. Now, do they have the right to reject? I went into a fire station to test it out.

They say policemen are hated, and firemen are loved. You can easily find out why the ladder is true. Firemen have vehicle, thought not a tumbler; they have uniforms, though not a bat suit; they have tools, though not a utility belt; they have call signals, though not a bat light in the sky. But they are truly the real-world version of batman.

Learning: 1. showing someone your respect will go a long way before you make any request. However, don’t flatter or manipulate, be genuine and don’t go overboard. Everyone wants to be loved and respected, especially the people who risk their lives to keep you safe. 2. After we watch news where predominantly bad news are broadcasted, we sometimes ask ourselves, where have all the good people gone? Well, they are everywhere. When you have time, feel free to stop by a fire station and show your appreciation. Again, giving someone praise is beneficial to everyone.

Rejection 29 – Learn Making Chai Tea From Barista

When someone challenges you to do a rejection therapy session right there, it’s called taking a dare. That’s exactly what happened when Fidel Martinez, the reporter from DailyDot.com (article here), asked me to demonstrate how rejection therapy works in a coffee shop. I got up and walked to the very charming barista – Daniel, and asked her to teach me to make her favorite drink.

When faced with a unusual request, Daniel said ‘yes’ faster than I could blink, which really surprised me. On one hand, she has the personality that could melt most people. On the other hand, she mentioned that she loves this type of request, so she can have fun during her job too.

Learning: A sweet personality can’t be manufactured or trained. A good barista, or any customer service rep is justified to say ‘no’, or to hesitate in saying ‘yes’ to unusual request. However, it’s the non-hesitating ‘yes’ and going the extra mile that create a wow moment. I suggest any company wanting to offer great customer service to spend more effort on hiring than training, because people like Daniel and Jackie were made much earlier than they were hired by their companies.

Rejection 28 – Make a Sale For Best Buy

There are many things to be said about the demise of Best Buy, especially how online sites like Amazon are kicking its butt. However, I still go there once in a while, mainly if I need in-person help to choose a product. I have always felt advices from peers rather than from sales person are a lot more powerful. So I ventured into Best Buy on my 28th day of Rejection Therapy to offer their sales rep to help them making a sale.

Sean (#1) couldn’t stop trying to sell me products even I made my intention ample clear. I feel a good sales person would not force feed a message to a non-receptive audience.

Shawn (#2) however, either by design or chance, made a very smart move by changing the topic of the conversation from my request to my company. It in turn helped me to make a sale for my own product to him.

Learning: 1. One of most effective ways to reject someone, especially someone who is persistent like myself, is to defect the request by changing the topic. People are mostly interested in talking about themselves and their interests. So if you can get them talking, you have probably made a successful non-contentious rejection. 2. Sales is about knowing the customers and their needs. If the customers made it very clear what their needs are, don’t try to change their needs and force your message on them.

Rejection 27 – Getting Donation For Charity on The Street

I drive by at least a few panhandlers per day. I have never imagined to be one myself. However, Karen from North Carolina wrote me an email describing how tough it is for her to ask for money, even for someone else or for charity. To experience this myself, for hopefully the only time in my life, I took a sign to the street and asked for money for Austin Food Bank. The entrepreneur in me prompted me to test out different signs to gauge their effects.

When you don’t normally ask for money, doing so in a public setting can be excruciatingly difficult, as I found out. Among all the panhandlers, those who are honest and are in real need of money for their families, my heart goes out to them. It hurts pride to do this.

Learning: 1. Messaging matters a ton in any requests, whether it’s asking customers to buy your product, or asking strangers to give you money for charity. Make sure your message is specific enough that people know where their money is going. 2. Be very careful in using humor. If the humor is not well-designed (like in my case) or in the wrong environment (charity), it could backfire big time.

Tragedy, Rejection and Hope

On 12/14/2012, the unthinkable happened. a gunman went into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and killed 20 students and six adults. Just like everyone, I was shocked initially, and went into mourning and reflection. At night, I made this vlog to share my thoughts on what happened.

Rejection 26: Give a Lecture to College Students

I have always wanted to give a lecture to students. After receiving a variety of rejections/acceptances in the past month, I am becoming an expert on rejection. I believe using rejection to propel yourself in life would be a very useful topic for students.

On Day 26 of my rejection therapy, I visited University of Texas and pitched my talk to business school and communication school.

Just like in business, market timing and sales channel are everything. It really doesn’t matter what my talk was, because I went in cold without an introduction, I couldn’t get anywhere in the business school. I got really lucky with a professor in the communication school, who valued what I offered.

Learning: 1. Product, sales pitch and brave spirit mean very little without the right access and distribution channel. Sometimes it’s not about what you say, or how you say it, it’s about whom you talk to. 2. If you have a dream or something to offer, DON’T EVER be afraid to offer it. Someone might need it, and someone might be waiting for it for a long time.