Small Business

Jia Jiang's 'Rejection Therapy' Turns Failure Into Entrepreneurial Success: Forbes


A year ago, young immigrant entrepreneur Jia Jiang quit a successful corporate career to chase his startup dreams — the week his first baby was born. When his startup saw a deal with a major funder fall though, though, Jiang was crushed.

It seemed like the end of all his hopes of breaking out of the corporate world to create an independent life.

He hated how much rejection hurt. So he decided he needed to study rejection and how to withstand it better.

Jiang didn’t know it, but his instinct to learn more about something most people hate turned out to be the key to his entrepreneurial success.

He soon discovered Rejection Therapy — the idea that if you experience rejection over and over, you will gradually “toughen up” and stop being bothered by it. Jiang felt he needed to acquire this skill to succeed as an entrepreneur, so he embarked on a plan to experience 100 consecutive Days of Rejection, which he documented on his blog, Entresting.

Speaking last weekend before 3,000 people at the World Domination Summit conference in Portland, Jiang related the unexpected results of his experiment.

Instead of rejecting him, most of his odd requests of total strangers — to drive a police car, fly a small airplane, make a P.A. announcement at Costco, play soccer in a random homeowner’s back yard — weren’t rejected. Time and again, people said “yes.” He began making videos of his attempts to be rejected to document the surprising reactions he got.

Most famously, he asked a Krispy Kreme doughnut manager to make him a set of doughnuts in the shape and color of the Olympic Rings in 15 minutes flat. Her cheerful fulfillment of this request — which you can see in the video below — garnered more than five million views and catapulted Jiang and his rejection experiment into the national spotlight.

This journey transformed Jiang from just another struggling entrepreneur into an inspiring, sought-after public speaker. His biggest problem now is figuring out how best to capitalize on his celebrity. This week, in the wake of the standing-ovation reception he got at World Domination, he was asking around on LinkedIn writer forums about whether it would be better to accept one of the many print-book-deal nibbles he’s getting, or to self-publish.

This success may not look anything like what Jiang was imagining a year ago, but his story is inspiring more would-be entrepreneurs to take chances and follow their own curiosity to find the thing they were meant to do.

How do you deal with rejection in business? Leave a comment and share your tips.

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