All posts by Jia

Rejection Remedy 2 – Fear of Public Speaking

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It is often said that people fear public speaking more than death. But if there is one person who can attest that the fear of public speaking can be conquered, it would be me.

Two years ago, I was a shy guy who was self-conscious about his accent and was extremely fearful being in front of a crowd. Failure had a lot to do with it: I bombed most of my speeches as a student and an employee. Even when I became an entrepreneur, I still had a really tough time with speaking in public.

Fast forward two years – now, not only do I speak all the time with ease, composure and humor, I actually do it for a living. I frequently talk at companies like Google, and conferences like the World Domination Summit. My TEDxAustin speech became one of the most popular TEDx talks of all time.

Of course, I do have something to talk about now days. I lived through an unusual story, and people love to hear inspiring stories. But plenty of people with good stories and great content are still crippled by fear when delivering them. So what happened to me – the shy dude who got rejected a lot?

Well, a lot of rejection happened. More precisely, rejection training happened, especially with these two:

1. Making announcement on a plane

2. Speaking on the street

In each one of these episodes, I was honestly scared beyond my imagination. When making an announcement in front of a plane full of passengers, I thought someone was going to mistake me as a terrorist and tackle me. When doing unsolicited speaking on a street corner, I had no idea how I was going to be treated by people walking by.

However, by not retreating from these types of mentally challenging environments, and actually carrying through with my speeches, I gained the toughness and confidence that I would not have been able to obtain under any other circumstances. When I finally went on real stages with a real audience, I relied heavily on these tough experiences.

This was my speech at World Domination Summit one week after my street practice.

In his book The Obstacle Is the Way, author Ryan Holiday discussed that obstacles not only don’t inhibit success, but actually create it if we respond to obstacles the right way. The same goes for public speaking, when we are put in the least welcoming environment and endure the situation with our actions, we gain enormous courage and confidence as the result.

Since you might not always have the challenging environment at your disposal, such as company presentations in front executives or startup pitches in front of investors, what you can do is to create these environments, like I did on the plane and the street. In other words, you can manufacture obstacles.

I can’t promise that you will become a professional speaker afterward, nor can I guarantee you success on Youtube. What I do know is that you will become a better public speaker in whatever you do by facing rejections head on, and use them as your tools.

Rejection Remedy 1 – Fear of Judgment

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Of all the fears that affected people, the fear of judgment had both stung and stunk the most for me. This is the fear of what others will think of you, especially in a negative light.

Am I portraying a lack of knowledge by asking this question at work? Am I making a bad impression by not working at night (while leaving my IM on so my coworkers can see me working)? Do I look bad in public wearing shorts to this event? If I take on this new venture, will my friends and in-laws lose respect for me?

These questions used to constantly put the fear of judgment in me, so much so that I worried about what others think of me all the time. They sapped my energy and creativity, and enslaved me to other’s opinions. This is why when I first started the 100 Days of Rejection, I was so scared and I almost threw up before I went up to the security guard asking for $100:

Link to me asking $100 from stranger

It wasn’t all about fearing to be rejected, but I feared the judgment from this guy – a stranger whom I’ll probably never meet again. I was terrified what he thought of me. Would he laugh at me? Would he call security (in this case, himself)? Would he check the nearest mental hospital to see if an Asian patient had just escaped?

These questions sounded silly, but they indeed ran through my mind. If the fear of judgment could actually make a guy sick when he was looking for rejection in the first place; if it made him almost quit in an environment where there was little risk or danger, think about what this fear can prohibit you from doing in real life situations.

Then this rejection attempt changed me:

Link to me panhandling

After panhandling on the street, I put myself in the middle of all kinds of judgment from thousands of strangers. Some people gave me money, others didn’t. It was scary at first, but liberating afterward. I learned that if I knew what I was doing, if I had a good reason, I could do anything I want without worrying about judgment. It made me brave and cool under pressure.

Why you should try it too: asking for money like a panhandler sounds crazy, but it forces you to go out of your comfortzone and develop a thick skin. You will learn that what people think of you really doesn’t matter. You are still the same person before and after. It’s what you think of yourself and what you do that really matters.

Go out and try this: ask $10 from people, and tell them why (prepare for a good and authentic reason, i.e. donating to charity). If they say NO, ask if there is anyway they would give you the money (i.e. let them decide where the money should go). Collaborate with them to make this happen. If their answer is still NO, shake their hands and say goodbye. Hold your head high and know you just kicked the trash out of your fear.

Rejection Remedy – How To Become Fearless

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After 100 Days of Rejection and writing a book, I am starting a new blog series called Rejection Remedy.


Because I’ve discovered a strategy for beating all fears. It comes in the form of “rejection attempt”.

This wasn’t easy for me. As someone who grew up wanting to be an entrepreneur, I never believed in any sort of self-help or even business training. I thought worrying about my emotions were for the weak. Instead, I should worry about real world achievements, such as making great products that people use or inventing awesome technologies that change the world.

My mindset changed when:

1. I witnessed how much fear of failure and rejection had held me back in the first 30 years of my life. I didn’t put myself out there and stayed in the cozy comfort zone. When I had good ideas, I quickly abandoned them after someone I trusted told me how dumb they were, only to see someone else made it a wild success later.

2. I eventually went all in trying to pursue my entrepreneurial dream and rejection from an investor made me cry and almost abandon everything. It was then I realized how fragile I was in that moment.

It was apparent that fear had made a direct impact on my business and personal life. If I wanted to be a successful entrepreneur or business person I would have to develop “emotional intelligence”.

I did so by having people reject me for a hundred straight days (thanks again to my friend Jason Comely’s inspiration). After my rejection journey, I made a breakthrough. I realized that rejection isn’t something I should shy away from, but something I could use to my advantage.

By getting rejected, I learned not to give a damn about people’s opinions and judgment, and became relentless in going toward my goals. I learned that I can’t control and don’t want to manipulate others’ feelings and attitude toward me, and the only thing that mattered was what I can control – my own actions, emotions and reactions.

Lastly, I learned that courage is not like height or even intelligence, which are mostly genetic. Instead, it’s like muscle, and much of which can be gained through exercise. In this case, repeatedly seeking rejection is the exercise.

This past month, I designed and hosted my first ever product – The Rejection Gym. Six brave souls took the challenge to be rejected everyday together with me for 30 days. The results were nothing short of astonishing (I will go into Rejection Gym later). I learned that I was helping people to not only overcome their fear of rejection, but fear of a lot of things – judgment, networking, failure, saying NO, public speaking… It’s like finding a remedy… or exercise to overcome fear.

As part of this series, I will tackle the most common fears and how you can use rejection attempts to overcome them. I call this series “Rejection Remedy”. Stay tuned!

Also, let me know what your biggest fear is. I will help you to beat it.

What Can Luis Suarez Teach Us (about rejection)?

By | Thoughts | One Comment

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

By | Thoughts | 5 Comments

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)

By | Rejection Attempts | 6 Comments

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.


How I Found Happiness and How You Can Too

By | Thoughts | 8 Comments

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

By | Thoughts | 4 Comments

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

By | Rejection Attempts | No Comments

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: 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

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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.