How to embrace rejection (with Jia Jiang) (Transcript)

How to Be a Better Human
How to embrace rejection (with Jia Jiang) (Transcript)
August 22, 2022

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[00:00:00] Chris Duffy:
You're listening to How To Be a Better Human. I'm your host, Chris Duffy. Let me start off today's episode with a confession. Sometimes when I'm working on a new project, whether it is a joke or a script or any sort of new idea, I have this image in my head of how successful it's gonna be and how it's gonna be perfect, and everyone is gonna love it.

And that idea, that image I have in my head is, is in a completely unrealistic alternate universe. Because once the excitement fades, I start to think about the real world, the world that I actually live in. In this world, it is inevitable that no matter how good anything is, someone is gonna not like it.

And in fact, someone will probably hate it. And the fear of that rejection, w ell, the fear of that rejection often makes me stop working on the project altogether. I, I wish that I could say that that is a fear that I've gotten over. And look, sometimes I do manage to finish things and put work out into the world despite being afraid of rejection.

[00:00:54] Chris Duffy:
I mean, you're listening to this podcast after all. It's not just ideas. Sometimes it translates into products. But, if I'm really being honest, there are a lot of times where that fear stops me in my tracks, and I don't put the thing out there. And, and that's a shame because I know from experience that rejection gets easier if you practice facing it.

The first time I got on stage to do standup at an open mic, I did shockingly well, and I was actually really hooked. But the second time. Oh boy. The second time I did stand up, I bombed to total silence. It was a horrific experience. I could not believe how slowly time was moving.

It felt like I was on stage for a millennium instead of, for just three minutes of terrible jokes. But now, after years of telling jokes, when I get silence from a crowd it's not fun. But I also don't feel like it's traumatic, right? It's just information that I need to rewrite my punchlines or clarify my premises.

[00:01:49] Chris Duffy:
And the process of getting rejected in that particular way has gotten a lot easier. I've built those muscles, and that is exactly what today's episode is all about. It's about how to face rejection and why you might be surprised by what happens when you put yourself out there. Despite being. Our guest, Jia Jiang, is the author of the book Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection. But before Jia wrote this book, he got his first taste of rejection at a very young age. Here's a clip from his TED talk.

[00:02:21] Jia Jiang (recording):
When I was six years old, my first-grade teacher had this brilliant idea. She wanted us to experience receiving gifts, but also learning the virtue of complimenting each other.

So she had all of us come to the front of the classroom and she bought all of us gifts and stacked them in the corner. And she said, why don't we just stand here and compliment each other. If you hear your name called go and pick up your gifts and sit down. What a wonderful idea, right? What could go wrong?

[00:02:54] Jia Jiang (recording):
Well, there were 40 of us to start with and every time when I hear someone's name called, I would give out the heartiest cheer. And then there were 20 people left and 10 people left and five left and three left. I was one of them. And the compliments stopped. Well at that moment, I was crying. And a teacher was freaking out and she was like, “Hey, would anyone say anything nice about these people? No one? Okay. Why don’t you go get your gift and sit down? So behave next year, someone might say something nice about you.”

Well, uh, as I'm describing this to you, you probably know, I remember this really well. But I don't know who felt worse that day. Was that me or the teacher. She must have realized that she turned a team-building event into a public roast for three six-year-olds. And without humor, you know, when you see people get roasted on TV, it was funny. There was nothing funny about that day.

[00:03:58] Chris Duffy:
In this episode, we were gonna talk with Jia about his book, about how he went viral on YouTube being publicly rejected, and why he's now started several companies that try to help people become fearless in the face of rejection. But first, we are gonna take a quick break, so don't go anywhere.


[00:04:19] Chris Duffy:
And we are back.

[00:04:21] Jia Jiang:
Hi, I'm Jia Jiang. I'm an author and speaker and entrepreneur. I help people overcome their fear of rejection.

[00:04:28] Chris Duffy:
I'm very excited to talk to you because I'm such a fan of your book and of your YouTube videos and of your talk. All of it is just, it's so funny and engaging, and it's about this topic that I feel like we really don't talk about that much, which is rejection. So how do you define rejection?

[00:04:45] Jia Jiang:
It's basically, you walk up to someone, a person or an entity or organization. You want to get accepted with a certain request. And that person exams you, whether it is thoroughly or whether instantly, and that person says no. And so that will be a rejection in my definition.

[00:05:03] Chris Duffy:
How did you get interested in the idea of rejection?

[00:05:07] Jia Jiang:
Just like a lot of things in life, you actually run into it about accident. So to me, basically, I tried to get funding with my startup, and I got rejected with the investment. And I just started examining how I felt, and I felt so terrible. I wanted to quit right away. Also, because the person who rejected me was someone I really respected.

I thought, man, he, he, he was a seasoned entrepreneur. He must knew the subject more than I do. So if he rejected me, who am I to say that this idea is a good idea? Then I, I started doing some, um, self-examination. I'm like, wow, this is not a way to think. I've read a lot of personal development books. And if you wanna be successful, there's no way to… you can't just keep quitting, like this, wanting to quit like this.

So that's where I started looking back in my, life saying, “Wow. I, I really have this fear of rejection, you know, and I look for other people's approval and I've tried to find the path of least resistance in everything I do.” So that's why I started getting really interested in this topic saying, okay, how can I overcome my own fear of rejection so the next time I get rejected, I won't feel this way?

[00:06:12] Chris Duffy:
When we get these professional rejections, when you pitch your idea and the investor says no. When you ask for a promotion, you get rejected. When you apply for a job, when you say no. I mean, I'm giving all professional examples, but they can often feel like they're extremely personal.

Like it, it is the same thing of being like “No one likes you.” And I think something that you've done such an amazing job at through your work is clarifying that when people say no, I mean, sometimes it can be this huge rejection, but most of the time, it's not that they're saying no to everything about you. It's just that they're saying no to that very specific request.

[00:06:46] Jia Jiang:
Exactly. It doesn't necessarily reflect how they think about you. And even if it does, sometimes it does. Sometimes people just don't believe in you as a person, but guess what? It's the fact that they don't believe in you says as much, much about them as they do about you.

Because they don't know you. They don’t know, uh, everything you've grown up with. They don't know your determination. They don't know your dreams and aspirations and skills. Yeah. So that's why I think rejection is very one-sided. Meaning the rejector, just all he or she did was to say no, but the rejected felt the whole world of weight of that rejection, because now you feel like this is an indictment of who, who I am.

And, uh, if that person, especially someone that I really respect, if she says no to me, that means. I'm not worthy. And if you spelled it out, that doesn't make any sense. But however, we often do spell it out. In our mind, we instantly link that rejection to our self-worth. And that's why it has a lot of damage to us psychologically.

[00:07:45] Chris Duffy:
In your book, I think you also really highlight one of the painful parts of fearing rejection this much, which I think everyone who's listening to this can relate to, which is that we often don't try for the things we really care about because we're afraid of being rejected. And so, as a result, we don't even have the possibility of making the, the dreams come true or having the, the big accomplishment that we so desperately want.

[00:08:07] Jia Jiang:
Exactly. And the, a lot of times the, the bigger your dream is the more impact you wanna have, the more rejection you're gonna have to go through to actually make it happen. However, we, we have that in our mind: “If I don't get rejected, there's always that possibility that we can make this work sometime in the future.”

So that's why by leaving that possibility, we often don't wanna confront the possibility that we're gonna get rejected. So, uh, that's why we often delay our dreams. And the thing is, if we go even try it, sometimes we get rejected once or twice, or in fact, maybe 20 times. And we feel like, “Wow, I should give up. This is really painful.”

[00:08:44] Jia Jiang:
But as I mentioned, the more impactful you wanna be, the more rejections you're gonna have to get to actually meet, to actually get tha “yes”. So maybe you are, you'll need to go through 25, 30, 50, 60, a hundred rejections. But sometimes we quit at three. We feel like we’re… this is a no.

And then maybe if we just quit right now, we don't embarrass ourselves further. And that's, there's still that self-worth and there's still that possibility that's left in our mind that someday we can do this. And that's where I think it's really damaging, because if you look at the people who are really successful in their lives or impactful in our history, people like Martin Luther King Jr., people like Mahatma Gandhi, those are the people, they are so impactful, they get rejected so bad. And by, in fact, sometimes the majority of the society, but they didn't give up. They didn't let those rejections dictate what they're gonna do. They actually keep going because they know the, the flip side of strong rejection is strong acceptance. And that's where the ability to fight over rejection to actually keep going is really important.

[00:09:47] Chris Duffy:
Well, I want to go back to a couple of anecdotes from your book Rejection Proof. We have this idea in our head of how things will go perfectly, and if we don't actually try it in real life, that idea can't ever get challenged. I wonder if you can share some of the times where that's happened to you in your life. I know you had, uh, kind of an amazing invention when you were fairly young. And you had a version of this because you were afraid of rejection.

[00:10:10] Jia Jiang:
It was when I was a teenager, and I saw myself as a, a inventor. So I had a, a notebook that, that had basically hundreds of ideas that I wrote down. Every day I would do look at something and I was like, “Oh, what if? What would be cool is if I can do this to solve this problem I just encountered.” So one of the ideas I wrote down was what if I can install the caterpillar tracks on the bottom of shoes or wheels at the bottom of shoes. And what if I combine the skate shoes with, uh, a normal shoes? Wouldn't that be great? I just like skate everywhere, but then if I walk, I just walk.

And I started doing research. I started going to my college library. And just because he's someone I really respected, but he's a lawyer. He's not an inventor. He's not even a product guy. I hung on every word he, he’s said to me, the first word he said to me, he was like, “Man, your English sucked. And the words you are putting on the drawing is not even right. You know, why don't you worry about trying to learn English rather than coming up with this thing?”

[00:11:13] Jia Jiang:
And that just totally deflated me and it was looking back. It sounds silly, but you know, I, I see my uncle as my, as all, almost like my second father. And if someone I respect that much, didn't think highly of my idea… Basically, I was looking for approval for my idea. And one, I found, I look for the proof from the wrong guy. And secondly, even if I did to the right guy, I couldn't, I shouldn't just give up after one rejection. In fact, I should have just, uh, kept going. Now that idea, a couple years later, someone else did it.

And of course we talk about entrepreneurship. There’s a lot about execution, right? You’ve got a right idea. You gotta make it happen, happen. But that idea turning to Helelies. You’ve seen those shoes that kids, that, um, they can skate around. When I see a kid wearing that shoe skated around in a park or on the street, I always think, man, “I should’ve been the person who, who made this happen.”

[00:12:04] Chris Duffy:
To be clear, and you say this in the book too, you're not saying that the inventor of Heelies stole your idea. It's just that you had a similar thing, and you could have done something similar, perhaps. So something that I think is really useful about that though, is you got rejected.

And at first, you just took a rejection and you would turn and you'd run away. And then, you decided I'm gonna change that about myself. And so you started making these videos and you said, “I am going to seek out rejection. I'm gonna get rejected from one thing every day. And by doing that, I am going to get stronger and get better at rejection.”

And you started making these videos and posting them on YouTube. What did you learn about rejection through doing that?

[00:12:41] Jia Jiang:
Yeah, very quickly, I learned that I'm not gonna die from this. On a conceptual level, of course I knew when I walk to someone, I say “Can I borrow, can I borrow a hundred dollars?” People are gonna say no to me, but I'm not gonna die. Just by having that awareness or understanding that you're not gonna die from this made a whole world of difference.

[00:13:01] Chris Duffy:
You know, you started with things that are kind of obvious that you would get to know. You go up to a stranger and say, “Can I have a hundred dollars?” I think we could all agree that's pretty unlikely that they would say yes. You discovered that like, while that seems like such an obvious, no, it also turns out that obvious no is not that far from a yes. So how did you go from the first time you asked someone, “Hey, can I have a hundred dollars?” and them saying “obviously not”, how did you realize that, actually, it wasn't that hard to get someone to actually start to think about it and consider it at least?

[00:13:26] Jia Jiang:
This comes from my day three. I, actually, this came very early in my hundred days of rejection. When I went into a Krispy Kreme donut shop shop, I asked the donor maker—that was the year of the Olympics—so I was like, “How about you can link five donors together and make them look like Olympic Rings?”

[00:13:43] Chris Duffy:
Which is so, such a hilarious concept because like, how is that even physically possible? ‘Cause it seems like it's not possible.

[00:13:50] Jia Jiang:
No, it's not possible. That's why there's no way she, they were gonna say yes. In my mind, I'm like, “I'm gonna come in. They're gonna say no. And I already learned that I'm not gonna die. So I'm gonna say a joke. And then I would just thank them and then leave.” That's all I had this plan in my mind. What ended up happening is the donut maker took me so seriously.

She was like, what's the color look like? If I do it this way, it's gonna get stuck in the fryers. If I do it that way, maybe I can make it happen. So 50 minutes later, she gave me a box of donuts that looks like Olympic Rings. It just blew my mind. It blew my mind and, and she was also so kind that she paid for it herself.

[00:14:27] Jia Jiang:
She was like, you know, “This is on me.” That was like a watershed moment in my life. First of all, there's no way she gonna say yes, no way. I picked this request specifically to get a “no”, to have some fun, then just leave. But even that, I got a yes. I just asked myself: how many yeses have I missed in my life just because I thought there's no way I would get, there's no way I would get one?

So in my mind, the world is such a cold place. It's all transactional. People say yes and no and all business, but she was so kind. And that's where almost like a whole world that's hidden in plain view got revealed to me. The, the world is, is of so many possibilities. So many opportunities. If you just explore, if you just lose that fear, why don't you just keep going and see what kind of world you can discover?

[00:15:17] Chris Duffy:
You also learned some very interesting, and I think broadly applicable, techniques that everyone who is listening can use. So what are some of the things that you learned in your rejection experiment that helped you to actually not get rejected? When you made requests later on?

[00:15:33] Jia Jiang:
You make a big request, whether it's a silly request, legit request, the other person says, “no”. Your instinct is: “Okay. I tried.” All right, you just go and leave, or you might get a little bit upset, you might get very disappointed and feel the pain. So you start arguing with other person saying, oh, “How can you say no? You shouldn't say no.” So you start arguing. So you have this fight-or-flight instinct in all of us. But I found that if I don't go to automatically go to one of those two responses, If I stay engaged, if I try to find out why, if I try to ask the other person, “How can I get it?”

It's okay if you say no to me. I understand. How can I do it? So if I start engaging the other person like that, what I'm doing is I'm bringing the other person to my side. The other person's like, “How can you do it? Huh? How do you do it? Maybe you can try it this way.” Some people just wanna get rid of you, but most people are actually kind and helpful.

When they say no to you, they actually feel a little bit bad. So when you're asking “How?”, the other person will be like, “Okay, maybe I actually help this person so it doesn't get personal or I don't feel too bad about rejecting the person.” So most people would actually say, “A right, how do you do it? Uh, maybe you can try it this way.” And a lot of times the, the solutions that the other person came up with, it’s actually better than you originally requested.

[00:16:51] Chris Duffy:
We’re gonna take a quick break, but please don't stop listening to the podcast now. I would count that as a rejection and I really don't think I could handle it. We will be right back with more from Jiang.


[00:17:03] Chris Duffy:
And we are back. We're talking about rejection with the man behind He's the author of Rejection Proof, Jia Jiang. While a lot of people, myself included, spend tons of energy, trying to avoid getting rejected, Jia has worked to try and actively seek rejection out. And here is what he discovered when he decided to first face his fear of rejection and put himself out there. This is another clip from his TED talk.

[00:17:31] Jia Jiang (recording):
I learned a lot of things. I discovered so many secrets. For example, I found if I just don't run, if I got rejected, I could actually turn a no into a yes. And the magic word is “why”. So one day I went to a stranger's house, had this flower in my hand, and I said, knock on door. I said, “Hey, can I plant this flower in your backyard?”

And, and he said, “No.” Um, but before he could leave, I said, “Hey, can I, can I know why?” And he said, “Well, I have this dog in, that would dig up anything I put in the backyard. I don't wanna waste your flower. If you wanna do this, go across the street and talk to Connie. She loves flowers.”

So that's what I did. I went across and knocked on Connie's door, and she was so happy to see me. And then half an hour later, there's this flower in Connie's backyard. I'm sure it looks better now. But had I, had I left after the initial rejection? I would've thought, “Well it's because, uh, the guy didn't trust me. It was because I was crazy. Because I didn't dress up well. I didn't look good.” It was none of those. It was because what I offered did not fit what he wanted. And he trusted me enough to offer me a referral, using sales term. Um, I, I converted a referral.

[00:18:44] Chris Duffy:
This has kind of taken off now. It has a new life of its own, where a lot of people on TikTok are doing this rejection therapy experiment too. I wonderm between your own or other people's that you've seen online, what are some of the most memorable rejections that you've seen people try and get?

[00:19:00] Jia Jiang:
Yeah, there are a lot of people trying to get dates with strangers, but that's not, that's really not my thing. I'm happily married. Yeah. But I, as I mentioned, like in my personal example, I've seen, there's one thing that I, I try to get a haircut at a Petsmart once?

[00:19:16] Chris Duffy:
You tried to get them to give the person who grooms the dogs to give you a haircut?

[00:19:20] Jia Jiang:
She just busted out laughing. And she, she said no, but we had a great time.

[00:19:24] Chris Duffy:
Another one of my favorites is your, uh, burger refill.

[00:19:26] Jia Jiang:
Yeah. Yeah. I went to a, a burger. I think it was like five guys. I don't remember. Uh, it's at a burger joint and I, after finishing a burger, I went and talked to the cashier and said, “Hey, can I get a burger refill?”

And I, he was really confused and then we negotiated a little bit and he said no, but that was, uh, they cracked me up. What I found is if I come in relaxed and had to have a good time and be curious about what the other person would say and how I would respond, I actually perform the best. Like, those are usually my best ideas, and this is usually… I do best with my negotiation when I'm like lighthearted and just having fun.

[00:20:00] Chris Duffy:
Yeah. I think another thing that you come up with, even when you're doing one of these sillier ones, right? Like asking a restaurant that gives drink refills, if you can get a burger refill too, one thing that you wrote that I think is really perceptive is that if you mention to the other people, what they're seeing? Then they're a lot more receptive, right? So like if you ask, can I get a burger refill? And then you go, “Sorry, that's a weird request. Isn’t it?” Then they'll go, “Yeah. It is a weird request.” And all of a sudden you're on the same side rather than being on opposing sides/

[00:20:28] Jia Jiang:
Exactly. Exactly. And, and just the thing is, especially if you make a strange, like, like a big request, right? If you make strange request, the other person sometimes, and they'll be like, “Oh, what is this about? And is this person crazy?”

So they would have these kind of doubts in their mind. And that's why sales is tough. Sometimes when you sell something to someone, people have doubts and they, they don't mention it to you. They just either stay in your… People wanna be nice. So it stays in their mind, and they just want to, and, and they reject you. But if you can mention some of the doubt that they would have, and that it almost like, kind of bring whatever the doubt they have to the front, now you're both seeing the doubt, especially if you have a solution for that doubt.

A lot of times people feel like, “Oh, okay. You're not crazy. Oh, okay. Oh, wow. You're thinking about, uh, you're empathizing with me. Okay. You know, what you're asking is, it’s not easy.” So when you mention those doubts and it, a lot of times the request gets easier because the other person feel more at ease.

[00:21:30] Chris Duffy:
Do you think that part of the outcome was building your own self-confidence?

[00:21:33] Jia Jiang:
Absolutely. By the end, I felt I could ask anything from anyone anywhere, just because I learned: one, how to ask it, and two, I would learn how to give the permission to the other person to say no to me. In fact, that's really important if I give the other person permission, if I'm not so attached to the outcome, I, I feel I can ask anything.

Uh, the ability to ask anything and do it in a way that, that one: it doesn't make the other person feel bad, two: it doesn't make yourself feel bad, it's very powerful. So a lot of times in life, you've just gotta take more shots, right? So if you can, you can take away the pain of missing a shot, you can take more shot and that's really the best. I mean, that's the most prominent outcome or benefit that I got from a hundred days of rejection.

[00:22:14] Chris Duffy:
I think there's something really interesting about the idea of giving permission to others and to yourself.

[00:22:19] Jia Jiang: Lot of times we really wanna get a yes. Get, having a yes would mean a lot more. If we're really attached to the outcome, we get really tense. We get tightened up. We want to, we're almost forcing, willing the other person to say yes to us. So we're trying to put on the best show possible. But a lot of times that kind of, um, pressure that we put on ourselves and the other person, no they don't produce the best result because you are not at your best when you are tense. When you are so clinging to a possible yes, you’re almost begging.

So if you are not that attached to the outcome, but you are very attached to your performance, your intention, the way you're asking. If you do your best, the outcome will, will come either one way or the other, but you're not putting the pressure on the other person. So that's why give the other person the permission to say no to you actually opened up a lot of possibilities.

[00:23:14] Chris Duffy:
You've written that “My rejection therapy taught me that the worst thing they can say is no is actually not true.” Okay. So if, if that's not the worst thing they can say, what is the worst they can say?

[00:23:24] Jia Jiang:
The worst is you say no to yourself. And we do that all day long. We rationalize why we shouldn't ask this, and this is human nature. You know, we, we want, I mean, that's a lot of times, that's trying to be socially accepted. Trying to be, you know, gregarious, trying to fit in. That makes us get along with each other. But also if you have, if you have a big idea, if you wanna make something really impactful happen, you're gonna risk a lot of rejections.

So getting people to say no to you is not the worst thing. The worst thing is you'll say no to yourself because you don't even get a chance to validate your idea. All you want is to stay comfortable and have the possibility of future success when you have the courage to ask. But often we don't ask.

[00:24:08] Chris Duffy:
You had this moment where you owned a house, you had a really successful corporate job. You were making a, a really healthy income. You were happily married, and you were expecting your first child. So on the outside, everything looked like it was going really well. And you were really unhappy. And I think that is a situation where a lot of people are really, would be hesitant to make a change. That's a form of fear of rejection too, to like sit with something where it seems good, but it's not right for you.

[00:24:39] Jia Jiang:
Exactly. But I was miserable by my job because I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I wanted to take a chance. I wanna be the one who come out with crazy ideas, who can make things happen. To take chances and fail and succeed.

That's what I wanted. Not at a, um, fortune 500 company working as a marketing manager. That's where I was. I held on to that for so long, because from outside, everything in my life felt okay, felt good. I got a, a house. I got a, paying my mortgage. I got a kid on the way.. But deep down I was miserable because that's not what I was meant to do.
I knew if I come out and say, “Alright, I'm gonna give up all this and start pursuing my dream, uh, full time”, I’m gonna get a lot of rejections, you know, from my friend, especially from my in-laws. And so, maybe they still haven’t, I think they still haven't gotten over that yet. So, but yeah, so that's a lot of possible rejections and that's why I held onto my job for long, not a long time, but for much longer than I wanted, because I, I don't wanna be rejected by, by people around me.

[00:25:39] Chris Duffy:
What is it that you think appeals to you so much about being an entrepreneur? Because I know that you have wanted to be an entrepreneur for your whole life, but kind of held off on doing it, ‘cause it seemed too dangerous or too prone to failure?

[00:25:50] Jia Jiang:
The possibility, the thrill, the work, the team building, the dreaming and the everyday grind, the possible success and failure.

And you will get that a corporate job. But when you, when it comes to entrepreneurship, you can do a lot of things. Like basically you can do anything you want, and you don't have a lot of constraints. Of course, there are best practices. There are ways, there are smarter ways to build the company, terrible ways to build the company, but really the, the world is your campus.

You know, from, from team building to product, uh, making. But at, at the company, you have a lot of, you have a lot of resources. You have a good team, but also you have a lot of constraints.

[00:26:22] Chris Duffy:
Tell me about this app that you're building that's trying to help people be a little bit better every day.

[00:26:27] Jia Jiang:
Basically we get inspired on quite a bit, you know, with, uh, TED talks and this podcast and we read books and, and, and so often when that happened, we're like, “Wow, this is amazing. It's changing my life. I'm gonna be different.”

But then nothing happens, because to actually make something happen, to actually make a change in our lives, we have to take actions. We have to do things. We can't just like, keep that mental note in our mind saying “Someday, if I get rejected, here's how I would react.”

Once you have to do this, you gotta go get, you gotta go rejected every day. You gotta just go out and do things. So taking action is the key differentiator between dreamers and doers. And I want… I’m building an app to help people take actions. To go from intention and knowledge and desire into real change and habits.

[00:27:17] Chris Duffy:
And how can people get involved with that or, or use it in their own lives?

[00:27:21] Jia Jiang:
Yeah. So, um, you can go to, um, my website, and, uh, you can find a place where you enroll in, uh, beta testing. So we, we, we're trying to align our psychology to our actions. To be better is act… To be better human, it’s actually going a little bit against human nature because again, to take actions, we have to constantly fight over our urge to be lazy, to be, to be entertained, to be distracted, to procrastinate, we have to take actions. So my goal is: how can I use human nature for making us better?

[00:27:56] Chris Duffy:
For people who are listening, and for me too, I, I feel very inspired by this idea of running my own experiment, where I set a number of days, and then I just try and get one rejection every single day. What, uh, tools or advice would you have for people who are embarking on their own practice of trying to get some rejections?

[00:28:11] Jia Jiang:
Yeah. So don't say “I'm just gonna be like this forever going forward”, because forever is a long time. A hundred days is a long time. Try to do this for maybe two to three weeks. Say every day I get rejected. And, and when you are done with 21 rejections, count that as a huge success. Pat yourself on the back, you've completed this accomplishment. You will develop a habit.

And you can use that in the future. So having a starting date and end date is actually really important. If I did this saying, “I’m just gonna be rejection proof going forwar”, I'll get rejected, one reject—I’ll get rejected every day, I will not be able to finish because you gotta have a starting and end date.

So that's one thing. Have a end—start and end date in mind. Two, start with something easy. See a stranger saying, “Can I take a selfie?” And boom, you get rejected. Cool. You’ve got it done for the day. I actually did, uh, research on this. There'd be a lot of people saying yes to you when you ask them for a selfie. A stranger with a selfie.

[00:29:08] Jia Jiang: Then if you get a yes… so don't be attached to getting a yes or no. focus on yourself. Focus on making that big request. Having the courage to walk up to that person and make that request and smile and have fun. Enjoy yourself. So if you focus on that, the, you know, the results will take care of themselves.

A lot of times the, the results will surprise you. You can learn a lot from how people behave, how people interact with you. And I, how your behavior impact their behavior?

[00:29:35] Chris Duffy:
I am seriously, I’m gonna try this to myself. I'm excited about it. I've been watching some videos of people doing it online, and even just like, you see the panic in their eyes as they're like, I'm about to ask for a free coffee at the coffee shop and then they go there and the person's like, “Sorry, I can't do that.” And they're like, “Okay, it's fine. I'll pay anyway.” But just the relief of like, I, it wasn't the biggest thing in the world to just like, ask for something and see what.

[00:29:55] Jia Jiang:
No, it's not, but we make it such a big deal in your mind. That's why we're so afraid of rejection. We panic. We make those things bigger than really are. Asking someone for free coffee, there’s nothing wrong with that. But it's not socially acceptable because we are programmed in a way every day, we, we behave a certain way. We have a, we have a certain outcome.

[00:30:15] Chris Duffy:
And I should say it's probably better to ask for, uh, something free from a giant chain, rather than from a local mom and pop shop. Like I think if you're gonna, ask for the person who's not gonna, uh, be suffering from it.

[00:30:24] Jia Jiang:
Yeah. And, and, and also don't forget this: sometimes by giving the other person a, a chance to say yes to us with a big request, we're actually giving the other person option is to feel good about themselves. So, so maybe give that person a lot of compliments and, and tell them, “Hey it's okay. I know this is a big request. It's okay to say no, but if you give it to me, you'll make my day. I, I would love to take a selfie with you and, and, you know, celebrate this.”

[00:30:49] Chris Duffy:
Yeah, I love that. I actually feel it leads perfectly into the question that we always try and end the show with. So: what is one thing that has helped you to be a better human? Whether it's a book, a movie, a piece of music, an idea?

[00:31:02] Jia Jiang:
My wife , she has made me such a much better person than I was. And I feel like marrying the right person. Of course that's, that's not easy for everyone. But I think having someone in life that that believes in you that supports you, that cheers you up when you are down, that suffers with you when you are down, but also enjoy that your success, that's so important. So it doesn't have be your wife or family members. B ut try to find the people in the world who actually they relish in your success. That is so important.

[00:31:34] Chris Duffy: Well, this has been an amazing conversation. Thank you so much for being on the show. And the only thing that's left for this episode is, uh, the credits. So would you mind reading the credits for me?[00:31:43] Jia Jiang: That would be, that would be fantastic. I would love for that. Reading credits sounds so much fun. I love.

[00:31:48] Chris Duffy:
Okay, amazing. Well, well, Jia Jiang, thank you so much for being on the show. Please check out his book Rejection Proof and go to his website:

[00:31:57] Jia Jiang:
Thank you for having me Chris.

[00:32:01] Chris Duffy:
Okay, uh, normally I read the credits here, but I'm gonna toss it to you, Jia. Take it away.

[00:32:05] Jia Jiang: That's our show for today. Thank you so much for listening to How to Be a Better Human hosted by Chris Duffy. A big thank you to today's guest: me, Jia Jiang. Oh, you're welcome. My book is called Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible through a Hundred Days of Rejection. My website is

From TED, this podcast is brought to you by the constantly rejected Sammy Case, Anna Phelan, and Erica Yuen.

From Transmitter Media, the team includes Gretta Cohn and Farrah Desgranges, who both constantly surprise strangers with their kindness.

And from PRX, it’s Jocelyn Gonzales and Sandra Lopez-Monsalves, who both claim to have invented the Heely. Thank you so much for listening to the show. If you like this episode, please share it with a friend. Or a stranger.