Book Summary

Rejection Proof – Jia Jiang


Sentence-Summary: Rejection Proof shows you that no “No” lasts forever, and how you can use rejection therapy to change your perspective of fear, embrace new challenges, and hear the word “Yes” more often than ever before.

Jia Jiang had what most people would consider “it all.” The Fortune 500 employer, the six-figure salary, a huge house, and a baby on the way. But like so many others, chasing economic incentives did not make Jia happy. What he really wanted was to be independent – an entrepreneur.

His wife supported him in taking six months off to start a company, but ultimately his habit gamification app failed, because in spite of incessant practice, a major investor rejected him after his pitch.

All “No’s” hurt, but this one stung particularly hard, so Jia decided to seek out rejection and document his journey. For 100 days, he made all kinds of crazy requests to people, companies and the world, recorded himself doing it and shared what he learned.

Rejection Proof is the result of that journey and it can teach you a whole lot about rejection.

Here are 3 lessons to help you see the word “No” in a whole new light:

1. Being rejected hurts so bad because it’s hard to blame on anyone but yourself.
2. Rejection always has a number.
3. When people discourage you it might be a sign that you’re ahead of the pack.

Ready to master rejection and bust through your fears? Let’s get rejection proof!

Lesson 1: People saying “No” to you feels personal, because you blame it on yourself.

The times when rejection was actually dangerous are over. Just like with most others of our fears, the fear of rejection is no longer a useful mechanism in times when all or most of our basic needs are taken care of.

Back in the Stone Age, being isolated or rejected from your tribe was almost a death sentence. If everyone else left you out in the cold and you had to get food and fight scary beasts alone, your chances grew slimmer by the minute.

Today though, no single rejection will kill you. Then why the hell does it hurt so bad?

It’s because we always take rejection personal. When someone tells you “No” straight to your face, it’s very hard to not blame yourself. Losing a job, failing an exam, or making a mistake can all be blamed on your uncertain environment. But when your date tells you she doesn’t want to see you again after having dinner, that’s hard to put on the waiter.

The rejector suddenly has power of the rejected, the exchange isn’t fair and two people who used to be equal are now split into the one who picks and the one who didn’t get picked.

It sucks to be number two and it always feels like there’s something wrong with you. But it isn’t.

Lesson 2: Rejection always has a number. No “No” is forever

One of the main qualities of optimists is that they see negative events as temporary, specific to a situation and impersonal. Once you do the same with rejection, your entire perspective on it will change.

Since rejection is always an exchange between two or more people, it’s always based on those peoples’ opinions. However, opinions are subjective, and therefore no single rejection is the result of an objective or final verdict about you as a person.

Every rejection is unique and every request will lead to a different response, based on lots of factors, like environment, timing and of course, who you’re asking.

Keeping in mind that you can always change a few variables like the above three, every rejection has a number on it. Once you get past that number, you’re bound to get a “Yes.” It’s simply a matter of persistence and changing the right variables.

Lesson 3: All revolutionary ideas were once dismissed as crazy, so rejection might be a sign you’re ahead of the pack.

Galileo Galilei’s idea that the earth revolves around the sun, not the other way around, Apple’s first tablet computer in 1993 and Twitter’s 140 character limit.

All three of these were initially laughed out of the room by the masses. Rejected. It took a while for them to catch on, but, as it turns out, all three were simply revolutionary ideas, who were ahead of their time.

Rejection is often a sign that you’re on to something important. Whether you look at authors being turned down by publishers, concept cars never making it into manufacturing, or startups struggling for funding – revolutionary ideas seldom spread fast, because the majority can’t even grasp them yet (otherwise they wouldn’t be revolutionary).

When it seems like you’re being rejected simply because herds of particular groups of people don’t want to listen to you, keep pushing. It’s not always the messenger that’s insane.


Rethinking Rejection

Rejection is human

1. Involves two sides, often says more about the rejector than the rejectee
2. Should never be used as universal truth

Rejection is an opinion

1. Opinion of the rejector and heavily influenced by historical context, cultural differences, and psychological factors
2. There is no universal rejection or acceptance
3. Rejection has a number
– If a rejectee goes through enough rejections, a “no” could turn into a “yes”

Taking a No

1. Ask “Why” before Goodbye

-Sustain the conversation after the rejection

– Ask “why” which could reveal underlying reason for rejection and present an opportunity to overcome the issue

2. Retreat, don’t run
– By retreating to a lessor request, one increases chance of landing a yes

3. Collaborate, don’t content
– Never argue, try to collaborate with the other person

4. Switch up, don’t give up
– Step back and make the request to a different person, in a different environment, or under a different circumstance

Positioning for Yes

1. Give my “why”
– By explaining reason for request, one increase chances of acceptance

2. Start with “I”
– Can give requestor more authentic control of the request
– Never pretend think in the other person’s interest without genuinely knowing them

3. Acknowledge doubts
– By admitting obvious and possible objections before the other person, one can increase trust levels between the two parties

4. Target the audience
– Choosing a more receptive audience can enhance the chance of being accepted

Giving a No

1. Patience and respect
– Delivering the message with the right attitude can go a long way to soften the blow
– Never belittle the rejectee

2. Be direct
– Present the reason after the rejection
– Avoid long and convoluted set-ups and reasoning

3. Offer alternatives
– Alternatives and simple concessions can make the other person a fan even in rejection

Finding upside

1. Motivation
– Rejection can be used as one of the strongest motivations to fuel someone’s fire for achievement

2. Self-improvement
– By taking the emotion out of rejection, one can use it as an effective way to improve an idea or product

3. Worthiness
– Sometimes good to be rejected, especially if public opinion is heavily influenced by group and conventional thinking

4. Character-building
– By seeking rejection in tough environments, one can build mental toughness to achieve greater goals

Finding meaning

1. Find empathy
– All rejections are shared by many, and can be used to obtain empathy and understanding of others

2. Find value
– Repeated rejections can serve as measuring stick for one’s resolve and belief

Some of the most triumphant stories come


I keep wondering why no one has done this before Jia, or if just no one has done it as publicly and successfully as him. A 100-day rejection challenge is a fairly simple concept, but apparently Jia struck the right nerve at the right time. Admittedly, his ideas for rejections were very creative, which made his requests and videos fun to watch.

One of the most surprising things I’ve learned from him is that rejection occurs much less frequently than we think it does – Jia himself was surprised at how many things he could get, simply by asking for them.

I highly recommend you watch his TED talk, which gives you a first glimpse at his work and then dive deeper into Rejection Proof, which might change your perspective on rejection forever.