My guilty pleasure: Watching one man get rejected 100 times
Okay, this isn’t a feminist blog; this post is about “Hope From Nope.” That’s the video blog wherein Jia Jiang posts videos of himself being turned down for “entrepreneurial adventures” such as lecturing a class (University of Austin), borrowing $100 bills from a bank for a paper airplane fight, and almost any other family-friendly scenario you can imagine.
It’s all part of his version of “rejection therapy” to prepare himself for company ownership.
The ex-Dell employee’s odyssey began when he was denied start-up funding for his company Hooplus.com, an experiment “to use social commitments to increase people’s collaboration, productivity, and reputation.” After that emotional setback, Jiang decided, “I am going through 100 days of Rejection Therapy, aiming to have one rejection per day by making crazy requests. My goal is to desensitize myself from the pain of rejection and overcome my fear.”
He’s no counterculture Jackass wannabe. As part of an MBA (Duke University) internship, Jiang worked at LinkedIn, where he researched the Chinese professional online networking industry, analyzed and segmented the Chinese users based on data analysis, executed marketing strategies to increase user growth in China, and designed and implemented a co-marketing campaign for NBA superstar Yao Ming and the Giving Back Fund. He then joined Dell as a Web analytics and testing manager before leaving to concentrate on Hooplus.com. He also was a video game developer (Sensory Sweep Studios), quality assurance manager (AtTask, Inc.), and software engineer (Hobbytron.com).
Jiang’s first solo rejection project (Day 1 last Nov. 15) was to ask a hotel security guard if he could borrow $100. “No.” Day 2, he requested a “burger refill” after eating in a fast-food restaurant. (Lesson learned: “I am buying a neck pouch for my iPhone so I don’t miss the guy’s face next time. He looked incredulous during the conversation.”)
Not every zany request gets a “no” response. On Day 44, he asked a pharmacist to tape him on security camera dancing “Gangnam Style.” (She does it to both viewer and employee amusement!) But sadly, he wasn’t permitted to write an article for Bloomberg Business (lacking journalistic credentials). Bloomberg missed an opportunity: His very well-written blog is attracting a rapidly expanding audience because he interjects, between humorous videos, the “lessons learned” – and he embeds business philosophy jewels in every third or fourth post. (Continued)
Some lessons cited are relatively painless: “1. It is hard for people to give rejections, and even harder to reject harmless and easy requests. 2. If you want to get a ‘yes,’ making a weird request is much better than making a dangerous request.”
Other lessons are more confounding: “In this video, I wanted to see if random people would reject my service of pumping gas for them on a very cold day. I got overwhelming ‘no’s’ instead of universal ‘yes,’ like when I asked for strange favors. It’s interesting to see that people are more burdened by receiving unwanted favors than giving them. Sometimes it’s much easier to give than to take. Our human nature prevents us from owing favors to others. Next time if you want to get a rejection, just offer strangers random favors for no reason.”
His journey is taking readers down a winding path of social experimentation. “I went to do this rejection session with one goal in mind – to test out the economics of giving money to strangers vs. investing money in them.” His scenarios are as whimsical as his approach to his daily assignments. The Gangnam stunt idea came, for example, “when sitting in a sports bar, spotting a security camera on the ceiling. No, it’s not quite like when Isaac Newton got hit by an apple, but I did get a little inspiration out of it.” Another day, his “aha” moment came when he spotted a man dancing on the side of the road in a Santa suit. Santa then taught Jiang how to “Dougie Dance,” doubling his dance repertoire.
In case you can’t tell, I joined as a follower on Day 48, when Jiang tried to convince a Toys R Us store clerk to race bicycles with him in the store. She said yes … but the manager said no, no, even though Jiang assured him there would be no doping involved.
Sign up for the free IB Update – your weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. Click here. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.