What Can Luis Suarez Teach Us (about rejection)?

If you are a sports fan and don’t watch the World Cup, let me tell you something: you are missing out! This is an awesome tournament with tons of drama. If that’s not convincing enough, know that there was a player from Uruguay bit another player from Italy in front of millions of people watching.

His name is Luis Suarez. He is famous for outrageous actions on the soccer pitch, including playing soccer with hands without being a goalkeeper, racially abusing another player, and being a repeated biter. Yes, this is his third biting incident. Maybe Burger King could get him to do a commercial.

As punishment for mistaking Italian player with Italian food, Suarez was suspended for four months, including from the remainder of the World Cup by its organizing body – FIFA. Without his service, team Uruguay lost the next game in the knockout stage.

We all have either laughed or showed outrage toward Suarez. However, Confucius once said, “If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher.” Is that possible that someone like Suarez can teach us anything? The answer is YES. Or more precisely, his actions could.

1. Don’t bite people (if you hadn’t learned it by age three, now is a good time).
2. Rejection/acceptance says more about the rejector/acceptor than the rejected/accepted

The world has been shocked with his out-of-control acts, and generally felt the punishment was way too light. It seems like Suarez was universally condemned and rejected.

However, there is one group of people who not only didn’t reject him, but also embraced and united behind him – his own countrymen. Not only Uruguayans didn’t blame him for damaging his team’s chance to win as well as shaming his country, they relentlessly defended him and blamed the western media for picking on Suarez and causing such harsh punishment. When Suarez went back home, he received a hero’s welcome, including that from the Uruguayan President Jose Mujica. Mujica went as far as insulting FIFA and western media as “fascist” and “a bunch of old sons of bitches”.

How could that be, we wonder? How can anyone objectively blame anyone besides Suarez himself for what happened? The guy caused all these himself… by freaking bit someone in a soccer match! Are people from Uruguay illogical and plain mad? How could the same person elicit such stark contrasts in reactions as Suarez did from Uruguayans and the rest of the world?

After I went through 100 Days of Rejection, the reason became rather obvious. Suarez illustrates one truth about acceptance/rejection: they say much more about the accepters/rejectors than the accepted/rejected.

Think about who Luis Suarez is to Uruguay as a country. He is an extremely skilled player who appears once in a generation for a country. His talent should be appreciated by everyone.

His country, Uruguay is not particularly big (#91 in size), rich (#63 in GDP per capita) and powerful (#77 in overall GDP). It has stayed relatively peaceful and thus out of the world news. For an everyday Uruguayan who is proud of their sports, culture and country, Suarez almost represents the image, hope, and pride for an entire nation. As the results, people take the rejection of Suarez extremely personally. It really didn’t matter what Suarez did. Short of for something very extreme, they will defend him. (After the biting incident, during which the “extreme” line was clearly crossed a few times over, even that is in doubt).

The so-called persecution complex exhibited by sports fans as well as group of people looking for respect is a great example about the subjectivity and irrationality of preferences and opinions. In fact, it goes much beyond sports. We see that in culture, law and politics all the time. People rally around a person who represents them, regardless of circumstances.

When people accept or reject you or someone else, instead of arguing or getting mad, find out the ‘why’ behind their action, because it is a great opportunity to learn about them.

Why You Should Write a Book

Before I set my mind down to write my story into a book, I wasn’t 100% sure about this decision, mainly because of the time commitment and opportunity costs. In fact, just after finishing 100 Days of Rejection, I could have turned this into many things: I could start a reality TV show, film a documentary, make a podcast, which I would love to do down the road. However, I chose to write a book, for many reasons. But here is the biggest thing: I know I would love doing it the most, I will be pretty good at it, and it will have an impact.

What happened after my decision was nothing short of amazing. I abandoned almost all my social life, both online and offline. I wrote, wrote and wrote. There were lots of coffee-binging, face-palming and hair-pulling. In the end, it was the most productive and creative eight months of my time writing this book.

I believe if YOU also have something to say, some thoughts to express, some wisdom to share, you should also write a book. For these reasons:

1. It forces you to think. In our hyper-connected social media ADHD world, who thinks anymore? It’s all about go go go, click click click, scroll scroll scroll. However, writing a book forces you to sit down and dig deep into your mind and soul, and shovel the most creative stuff out of yourself. It’s an amazing process that gets the best out of you.

2. It documents your life and story. We all have our stories and thoughts. If we don’t write them down, they are gone forever. By writing a book, you document what transpired in your life and in your brain, and forever leave a legacy for yourself in the world and in your family.

3. It inspires others. Yes, it really does. I am continually amazed by how many people tell me they can relate to my story, even though we don’t know each other at all. Just you know, every time you face a crisis, or discover something cool, or found a solution to a problem, someone else can also relate. Your book will inspire and help them, even if you don’t know them.

4. It moves you forward. Writing a book will propel you to the next stage in life. You will see things and experience events with much more clarity and purpose. It will also become your brand, like a business card. You can give to others as a gift, which brings credibility you shouldn’t have otherwise.

None of the reasons includes making a lot of money, because you probably won’t. And if you write with money as your number one goal, you will likely be disappointed.

What do you think? Ready to get down and write? If you do, feel free to reach out to me with your book idea.

I AM BACK! (from book writing)

I just pushed the SEND button. Now my manuscript is in the hands of my editor. I am so excited that my neighbor asked me if I was celebrating a World Cup victory.

Ever since I signed my book deal with Random House last year, my life had changed. I toiled away for eight months at writing at coffee shops, dark rooms, hidden office space, coffee shops, libraries, parked cars and flying airplanes. Now I am done, and it feels amazing.

My book was about how to overcome your rejection fear, and making rejection your friend. It is filled with stories, research, learning and tools from my 100 Days of Rejection. I am very proud of my work because I know it is good and will help and entertain a lot of people.

If you want a copy, make sure you subscribe to my blog. I will run specials just for my blog readers and followers leading up to the publication date.

What’s next: I am going to reignite my blog through videos, writings and experiments. The world we’ve discovered together in this past year was an amazing one, and we are just getting started.

…LET SEE WHAT HAPPENS!

How I Found Happiness and How You Can Too

Yes, I’ve found it, and it wasn’t easy. But I did find it!

The Pursuit of Happiness has been so important that it was on the United States Declaration of Independence, on the title of one of my favorite movies, and on the cover of one of my favorite books. But I’d never truly thought about until I found it.

Happiness is a lot like wisdom. Before finding happiness, I’d never known I DIDN’T have it, even though all my activities were geared toward finding it. From receiving education, to making money, from playing sports, to enjoying media amusement, from forming friendships, to having romance, I did all these in order to find true happiness. But none of them directly led me to it.

But now I found it, I found myself talking and connecting with a lot more people; I get up early motivated to work; I embrace life, through both the highs and the lows; I make choices with intention instead of feeling; I get through a day knowing I am one step toward my purpose, rather than one day past my prime. I am truly having the best time of my life.

How did I find it? – by finding MEANING in my life. Through starting my rejection blog and meeting with many people through social media and talks, I learned that I am meant to help others so they can overcome their fear like I have.

In his classic book – Man’s Search For Meaning, Dr. Viktor Frankl discussed that life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones. Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life. In my case, I found meaning in one of the biggest fears I had – rejection fear.

Here is how I found my meaning and how you can too:

1. Confronting your fear and sharing with others – what you are afraid the most control you the most. By opening yourself up and sharing your confrontation with fear, you will find that you are not alone. You will draw strength from others, and they will from you. You will find that the thing you are afraid the most actually provides meaning to you.

2. Pursuing your strength and dumping your weakness – no one is good at everything. The people who spend their lives trying to improve their weaknesses become mediocre in everything. Only those who focus on maximizing their strength will have a chance to be extraordinary at those things. What you are extraordinary at often provide the maximum impact and meaning.

3.  Be part of something bigger than yourself – when you focus on yourself everyday, you judge everything in a narrow frame of mind in term of gains and losses. By contributing to something bigger, whether it’s religious faith, or a humanity cause, or an organization, you can find meaning in many more things, even sufferings.

Now, what is your fear? What’s your strength? And what do you want to be part of? Find them and you will find meaning, and ultimately happiness.

My 2014 Rejection Resolution

We love to find the defining moments or turning points in a growing process, whether it’s about a person’s life, a business or a movement. As I am writing my book, I was required to reminisce over past events to find these moments. No matter how I cut it, 2013 was an important year filled with them. I don’t know which one was defining, but I think they all led to where I am today and where I am going tomorrow.

• Completed my 100 Days of Rejection, which transformed me from just a regular guy into a person who is no longer afraid in interpersonal relationships, and led me to find the truth about rejection.

• Spoke at Tony’s Hsieh’s Downtown Project in Las Vegas. I even met my entrepreneurial hero and draw inspiration from him in person.

• Gave my first ever TED talk at TEDxAustin. The talk was viewed over 100K times online. It helped me to connect with many people and to spread the message on overcoming the fear of rejection.

• Was featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, one of my favorite magazines. I always dreamt about appearing there as the next great entrepreneur, and never imagined that I would get on as the Rejection Guy.

• Spoke at the World Domination Summit, which led me to connect with a lot more people in person, including Chris Guillebeau, Andrew Warner, Nancy Duarte and Tess Vigeland.

• Inked a book deal with Crown Publishing, who will publish my book on Rejection in 2015. This book will include stories, research and lessons, as well as my heart and soul.

Spoke at Google, and understood the needs to overcome fear in the high-tech and corporate world.

For 2014, I believe this is the year I will take this rejection idea from a good concept to the onset of a great business that would benefit many more people. To make sure I get there, here is my new-year resolution I want to share with you:

1. To complete my book on rejection

2. To continue to get rejected in new ways

3. To help at least 5 people to step toward in achieving their dreams

4. To write articles for one of the major publications

5. To shake hands with Bill Gates (or get rejected trying)

6. To host my first ever class on overcoming rejection, to share what has transformed me with the world (if you live in Austin and want to be considered to participate, email me)

7. To hire at least one person to help me build this business (I am looking for product management, instructional design, software engineering and writing/editing talents. If you know anyone, email me)

If I don’t finish these goals, please hold me accountable.

Now what’s your new-year resolution? If you share with me, I will check up on you throughout 2014.

To 100 Days and Beyond

It’s been a few months since I concluded my 100 Days of Rejection project. It was an amazing journey, filled with adventure, surprises and inspiration. More importantly, I learned so much about fear, communication and even business, I feel like a completely new person.

Here is what I am doing next:

1. Book: I have signed a book deal with Crown Publishing, and have been feverishly working on my book on rejection. It will be a great book, with real stories, learning and applications on how to turn rejection on its head.

2. Blog: I have moved my website to a new domain: FearBuster.com. I will make it a new hub for all future videos and blogs. If you haven’t subscribed, do so. I would love to keep you in the loop.

3. Speaking: I have been giving talks and sharing my stories and learning with many organizations and conferences. Most recently, I stopped by Google and gave a “Google Talk”. It was great to see the smartest people on Earth also want to kick rejection fear’s butt.

It was crazy that a year ago, I was a struggling entrepreneur being turned down by investors. Now because of inspiration from you guys, I am doing something completely different and more meaningful – busting the fear of rejection for people and organizations. I love my new mission and am having the best time of my life.

Now, here is my invitation to you:

1. Share with me something you have always wanted to ask/do, but are afraid to do so due to fear. I will help you strategize and ask, so you won’t regret not asking.

2. Let me know your ideas on how to use technology to help people overcome the fear of rejection.

3. Again, subscribe to my blog and connect with me.

Happy Holidays!

My Talk at Google – Why Rejection Is Awesome

 

They say Google has the highest concentration of smart people on Earth. People there are busy organizing online information, building self-driving cars, defying death, and designing smart glasses that record video while making everyone looks like Jeff Goldblum.

So when I was invited to speak there on my learning on the topic of rejections, part of me wondered if they could relate to rejection as well as the common folks. After all, being a Googler means having been accepted to work at the mega of corporate America.

Then I thought about the fact that:

1. the more influential you become, the more likely you’ll be rejected (e.g. Barack Obama)

2. people succeed because of rejection, not in spite of rejection (e.g. Michael Jordan in high school)

3. the most influential ideas were often met with the most violent rejections (e.g. Nelson Mandela and MLK Jr.)

I told myself, “yeah, these people know rejection as well as anyone”.

In front of an audience jam-packed with brainpower, I gave my talk. After a great reception and lively Q&A session (you can fast forward to 38’. Great questions) after my talk, I knew I was right – everyone knew rejection.

Link: http://youtu.be/w_W2LeWe-RU

Rejection 100 – Why I Want to Meet Obama

“Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the Earth,” said Archimedes when explaining the principle of leverage to lift heavy objects. Before my 100 Days of Rejection, I would have never learned to use this principle outside of a physics class, the playground, or when I have to move furniture. But after making outrageous request after outrageous request, I have discovered my own principle – “give me a reason to ask, and I will ask for anything.”

My rejection therapy taught me that “the worst they can say is no” is actually not true. In fact, the worst they can say is “you didn’t even ask.” It implies I said “no” to myself before others could reject me. If I have a good reason, it is my duty to step out of my own comfort zone to ask, no matter how difficult and impossible the request is.

Therefore, for my 100th rejection attempt, I want to go for the impossible – interview President Obama on his views and personal experience of rejection.

Now that the request is made, will I actually be able to get a meeting with Obama? The odds are overwhelmingly against me. For one, he is a very busy person, working on military responses to the Syria chemical weapons situation and trying to avoid a government shutdown in a couple of months. Also, as the most powerful person on Earth, he also has politicians, lobbyists, business owners, and all type of interests groups vying for his attention. Getting a “yes” from the President of the United States might affect billions of dollars in business and change political landscapes in some parts of the world.

On the other hand, it is not unheard of for the President to do an interview on a topic that’s relevant to people or his policies. For example, the CEO of Zillow conducted an Interview of him answering questions on housing.

History is also not bereft of examples of citizens meeting the ruler of the country. For example, Marco Polo met Kublai Khan when he traveled to China; Diogenes of Sinope had a meeting with Alexander the Great; and Bill Clinton got to shake hands with John F. Kennedy. The results: Marco Polo brought pasta back to Italy and we now have Olive Garden in America; Diogenes said the famous words “stand out of my light”; and JFK inspired Clinton to become the last President of the 20th century.

Now, think about a regular guy being able to interview the President on how to overcome rejection and achieve success. Think about average citizens asking their leader on things that are relevant to them. Wouldn’t that be a great example of democracy and openness? Wouldn’t that inspire a lot of people like you and me?

Can this be done? I don’t know. But I do know what I am doing is for a good cause. And if I don’t ask, I would have regret for the rest of my life.

Now you can help me by sharing the video and this blog post. If you have any idea on how I can get an interview with the President without changing my name to Jatie Jouric or Joprah Jinfrey, let me know.

Dream, Racial Equality and Fear of Rejection

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His speech still hangs on my wall as inspiration

On the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington, the Internet is filled with articles and tributes about the “I Have a Dream” speech and the Civil Rights Movement. The speech also profoundly impacted me. Yet it didn’t do so in the sense of teaching me about racial equality, but in the sense of pursuing a dream and overcoming rejections.

So what does his speech have anything to do with rejection therapy? What do racial injustice and the fear of rejections have in common?

I still remember that the first time I heard the speech I couldn’t even speak English properly. I crawled through the entire transcript with a dictionary, and even tried to imitate his accent at school the next day. (A Chinese kid trying to speak like a Black Southern Baptist preacher is surefire comedy). One thing that blew my mind was how powerful one man’s dream, if shared, articulated and executed fully, can become.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream was based on the prospect of curing a common suffering among a group of people. It was based on the premise that a civilized society was not where it should be. It was based on the potential that if we could overcome our own fear and prejudice, we would be a better people and the world would be a better place. Those were the seeds of ideas that inspired me so much that I am willing to turn my 100 Days of Rejection Therapy into a life long goal.

Babies are neither racists or fearful

Our fear of rejection, in a way, is very similar to racial injustice. We didn’t have it as infants, but as we grew up it started to occur in our own minds. Then, by the constant reinforcement from society, we let it become a dominant force in our behaviors. However, unlike racial injustice which was done by one people onto another, the fear of rejection is something we inflict upon ourselves.  The results are equally devastating. We stopped trying new things and making new connections; we strangle and suffocate our own dreams and ideas; and we later look back on our lives with regret because we lived someone else’s life rather than our own.

Even more dangerously, the fear of rejection is subtle and overlooked. There is no police brutality, no jail in Birmingham, and no KKK. The only thing that’s out there is the two letter word ‘no’, which is enough to scare all of us.

Dr. King help created a world which I appreciate and benefit from. But more importantly, he inspired me to have my own dreams of building a better world, one where our destinies and aspirations will no longer be suppressed by the tear gas of self-doubt, the jail walls of self-isolation, and the police batons of self-rejection. This is a world worth building.

Will you want to live in a world without the fear of rejection? Also, did Dr. King or someone else inspire you to pursue your own dream?

3 Things I Learned From World’s Best Salesman

Before I discuss what I learned from this man, let me introduce him first.

His name is Brian Jiang, and he happened to live in my house. He’s 13 months old and looks a lot like me. Although he can’t fully walk yet, his mesmerizing gaze and smile would trump anything Steve Jobs puts on a picture. And his sales pitch, which is mostly composed of pointing and ‘da da’ sound, would put anything Alec Baldwin could come up with to shame. I would buy anything Brian tries to sell me. I am sure in 10 years he will drive me crazy. But for now he is absolutely world’s best salesman to me.

 

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Here are three things I learned from him on sales:

1. Likability – this man likes me more than anything in the world. Every time he sees me, he would give me a big Duchenne smile (one that involves both the eyes and lips). When he is with me, his body language constantly reminds me how happy he is. As the result, I really like Brian too. In his classic book on the psychology of persuasion – Influence, Robert Cialdini puts ‘liking’ as a major principle of influence. No one does it better than Brian. In fact, I would do anything for this man.

2.  Trust – it’s no secret that we buy from people we trust. For Brian, although I do question his ability from time to time, I’ve never questioned his intention and sincerity. When he wants another bowl of soup, it means that he really likes it, not that he is trying to make his mother feel better. People say a man is only as good as his word. For Brian, I know I can trust this man’s word regardless of its intelligibility.

3. Fearlessness – I have learned not to be afraid of rejection. However, no matter how much I try in this category, Brian has me beat by a mile. Some times he wants his toy, and sometimes he wants me to have his toy. No matter what he wants, he asks me with the fearlessness that commands respect and often cooperation. The unfair thing is, he didn’t have to ask Olympic ring donuts to train for this ability. He was born with it.

What is the world like if we have companies whose salespeople are 100% likable, trustworthy and fearless. I would find those companies and buy their stock no matter what industries they are in.

What have you learned from your own best salesman or saleswoman?