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!

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!

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.

What Rejection Is, Isn’t, and Could Be

We have all had the experience of being rejected, and none of us liked it. Applied for a job and got the “thank you for your interest” letter? Saw an attractive girl at bookstore, so you mustered all your courage to ask her for a cup of coffee, only to hear the words “nah that’s ok”? Or in my case, prepared an investment pitch for months but only to get a cold and impersonal rejection through email? These experiences can sting us for a long time and make us less likely to try things again. As the result, we reject ourselves and lose opportunities.

But does it have to be this way? Is rejection some sort of unavoidable and incurable disease that will bring pain to us every time we face it? If you have followed me a for while, you know my answer will be a resounding no. In fact, I am rejecting the notion that rejection has to be feared. To tell you why, let us exam what rejection is, isn’t and could be.

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What rejection is:

1. A constant figure in life – Ben Franklin famously said there were only two things certain in life: death and taxes. Let’s welcome the third member – rejection. From the President to the CEO, from the secretaries to the donut makers, everyone gets rejected in their lives.

2. An opinion of others – someone rejected us because in their opinion, it is the best course of action for them. The world is filled with an overabundance of free opinions, and rejections are no excerption. Rejection says more about the rejector than the rejected.

3. A fluid number  - there is no such thing as a permanent rejection. In fact, it is impossible for the entire world to reject us. Every rejection has a number. If we talk to enough people without giving up, a rejection will become an acceptance.

What rejection isn’t:

1. A problem can be avoided or outgrown – often the more responsibility and influence a person has, the more likelihood that she will be rejected by more people. A middle manager’s marketing plan might get rejected by 5 executives, whereas the President’s healthcare plan could get rejected by half of the country. Hoping to avoid rejection is rather a foolish attempt.

2. An objective truth about us – just because people believed the world was flat didn’t mean it actually was. For the same reason, a company rejecting our job application says nothing about our ability to perform as an employee. Taking other’s opinion about you as truth is very counter-productive.

3. An end of our quest – unless we stop at a rejection, the rejection should never be the end of our quest. It took J K Rowling 12 tries to get Harry Potter published. If she stopped at any of the 11 rejections, the battle between Potter and Voldemort would have happened in a trashcan or shredder somewhere rather than in 500 million books, 1 billion movie showing and 7 billion minds.

What rejection could be:

1. A tool for motivation – Michael Jordan was famous for using boos from the opposing fans to motivate himself. Later in his career, he got so popular that everyone would cheer for him. Yet, he would pick out the one boo from a thousand cheers, and use it to fuel himself. The best in business always uses rejections as motivation.

2. A gauge for impact – there is a big difference between being rejected and being ignored. Being ignored often means our idea has no impact. But being actively rejected could mean our idea has the potential for large impact. History is filled with impactful figures overcoming violent rejections, from Jesus Christ to Nelson Mandala, from Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther King Jr.

3. A necessity for worthiness – Just like a story without conflict isn’t worth telling, and like a hero without failure isn’t a real hero, a quest without rejection isn’t worth pursuing. When we keep going despite the nos, when we keep getting up after being stiff-armed, when we shed tears of victory after tears of defeat, we are the real hero, pursuing a worthy quest, and writing a great story.

Now let me hear from you. What is rejection to you?

Rejection 99 – Ask Strangers to Rate My Look

How good do I look to the public eye? What would happen if I ask strangers to rate my looks, from 1-10? As a happily married man, I care much less about looking attractive in front of others now than I did when I was single. However, I would be lying to say that I’ve never considered the first question. And the second question? It would be a very scary proposition, both asking the question and hearing the answers.

This is rejection seeking, doing something scary and understanding just how scary it could be.

Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQzoyxwplWM

This experiment turned out to be much easier than I originally imagined. People are nice and more than willing to give me high scores. And yes, it helped that I showered, put on a clean shirt, and took off the old-man socks as requested. Yet, it again showed how much scarier our imagination is than the real world. I couldn’t get a low score when tried. I was in fact secretly hoping for a 2 just to get a taste of rejection, but it didn’t happen.

Learning:

1. Our imagination often takes us to the worst possible outcome, causing us to be much less likely to take that action. We are really our own worst rejectors.

2. People are rarely mean, or brutally honest to others in personal settings. When you ask for feedback, understand that the answer could be skewed.

3 Ways to Come Up With Rejection Ideas

“How do you come up with all these creative rejection ideas?” This is one of the most common questions my readers ask me. It would be fun to say I am a creative genius because I’m a secret child of Steve Jobs and Lucy Liu, but it wouldn’t be true… actually, that would be so wrong, but I digress. Although I love to think outside of the box, but imagination alone wouldn’t be enough for me to come up with hundreds of ideas. If you want to try this on your own, here are three ways you can come up with rejection ideas that fit your own personality, lifestyle and preference.

1. Do Really Cool Things

Fill in the blank: It would be really cool if they can let me _________ (a cool activity) at _________ (a place manned by people).

For example, if you have always wanted to fly a plane, ask a pilot for it. If you would love to feed the big cat at a zoo, ask the zookeeper for ways to do it. Make sure you ask with respect, and if they say yes, you will have a great experience. (But make sure you follow their lead. I don’t want to see your name under CNN’s headline – Californian Man Under Critical Condition After Attempting to Arm Wrestle a Liger.)

2. Go for Your Big Dream

What do you really want to do? Is there anything on your bucket list that involves permission from others? If there is nothing involves permission, you just need to start doing them now. No one is stopping it but you. If something does involve permission, just ask for it. For example, it has been my dream to give a lecture in college. I asked for it and got it.

I have a reader whose dream is to be involved in research on alternative universe and time travel. Though not a scientist, he wants to be a pioneer in the research subject and asked me for advice. Sounds crazy and far-fetched? I told him to google the science research papers on the subject, and email the authors to express interest. He took my advice. After a few referrals, he’s now in touch with a leading scientist at Cal-Tech. A couple decades into the future, he might be sitting on the first-ever time machine. The odds of that happening are still very low, but it was 0% before he asked.

Of course, if your dream is to become the President, calling the White House for permission isn’t the best idea. You can break down your big goal into smaller rejection attempts. For example, calling your governor’s office and asking to be on the campaign staff might be good starting points.

3. Ask for Other’s Ideas

Many of my rejection ideas come from my readers. Some of them made my best episodes. For example, I took someone’s advice and asked to be a Live Mannequin at Abercrombie.

No matter how cool your project sounds, you can’t do it alone. Even if you could, it would be a lonely road to walk. Ask for ideas from your family and friends. Don’t be afraid to be judged and rejected. If you really believe in something, go for it and involve others.

Rejection attempts are not about getting a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but about putting yourself in the awkward situation to ask for something you really want. If others let you do it, you need to be very happy to carry through. If not, congratulate yourself on having the courage to ask. You will improve yourself either way.

Feel free to share your experience publicly using comments or privately through email at jia at fearbuster.com.

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.