The plot thickens as I continue into the 2nd week of the Rejection Therapy Challenge. (I posted previously about week 1 rejections.)

A recap for new readers: I’ve taken on a 30 day challenge where I need to get personally rejected by someone every single day. I was inspired by to try it and thought it might be fun and help me get out of my comfort zone. I’ve been documenting this stuff on my blog.

INSIGHTS: I think the rejections this week are more interesting and more “real” than last week which I think is great (of course you can be the judge). I’ve also noticed that the challenge is making me more open to talking with strangers – because they might hold a rejection opportunity. It makes me more aware of my surroundings in general. I see that I’m exposing myself to serendipity, as Paul Buchheit recommends. It’s fun, a little stressful at times and as a fringe benefit, it’s makes for a great introductory story when meeting new people.


We were out for isocket team lunch and noticed a really nice, brand new Jaguar parked out in front of the restaurant. Later when we’re finishing up lunch we see the owner talking to someone and getting ready to drive off. I run outside and tell him I think he has a really nice car and ask if I could sit in it. He agrees. We talk briefly about why he got the car and how long he’s had it. As he push button starts the car, I ask if I could take it for a spin – he laughs and says no. REJECTION!


Today I got a free V8 with tea infusion from some promoter on the street. Later I run into a homeless guy who  asks for change. I offer the V8 bottle and he refuses! I even ask again “are you sure?” in my most persuasive voice – still no. REJECTION!

Later I was working at Starbucks before a Doctor’s appointment and ended up taking a 25 min phone call with a potential customer. When I ended the call, the old lady sitting across the table from me leaned over and said “I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t think that phone call was appropriate.”

She then proceeded to lay into me about how Starbucks isn’t my home office and how phone calls ruin the coffee shop atmosphere. I took it all in good stride and she ended up shaking my hand as she left – I tried hard not to be say anything to provoke her. More amused than anything else at the UNPROMPTED REJECTION!


I was eating lunch at a small Vietnamese place in Burlingame and started joking with the owner about how maybe I could do the dishes instead of paying. She kind of went along with it at first, saying I’d need to wash 8 buckets in 2 hrs and dry them etc. Since that was not really a rejection, I decided to push it by actually pretending like I was going to do it.

At the end of the meal I said “OK, let’s do this!” I took off my jacket, put dishes into the tray and started busing the table. She’s lets me do all this and I start getting nervous. I walk into the back room to start washing the dishes and finally she’s says “Alright, you can stop! I was just joking!” I smile, and silently whisper thanks. REJECTED!

Later that night I was at dinner with friends in Palo Alto when I saw a girl who kind of looked someone I had met a while back. I tried saying her name and seeing if she responded. She didn’t. But she was so *almost* like the person I knew that I just went up to her group and asked if her name was Rui. “Nope it’s not.” she says.

I ask her name. She says she won’t tell me but shell let me guess. The guy next to her says it starts with a “J”. I guess Jessica. Wrong. Jennifer. Wrong. Then she tells me in a condescending tone that her name doesn’t even start with a “J”. EPIC GROUP REJECTION!

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In 1997, a bunch of 7 and 8 year old kids (157 of them to be exact) were starting to learn how to play a musical instrument. Before their first actual lesson, a researcher named Dr Gary Macpherson asked them a simple question:

“How long do you think you’ll play this instrument?”

It turns out most kids, after a little prompting, have some idea of how long they’ll end up playing. Their answers were bucketed into:

  • Till the end of elementary school (aka low commitment)
  • Till the end of high school (aka medium commitment) or
  • For the rest of my life (aka high commitment).

They were asked to track how long they practiced each week. After 9 months, their performance was evaluated. As to be expected, the kids that practiced 20 mins a week (low) scored lower than kids that practiced 45 mins a week (medium). Medium practice kids scored lower than kids that practiced 90 mins a week (high).

Yes – practice makes better. The more interesting thing is that AT EVERY LEVEL, the kids who had higher commitment to their instrument scored higher than those with lower. When you combine high commitment with high practice, the results are astonishing.

At 90 mins of practice, the high commitment group scored 35 vs the low commitment group’s 8.

That’s over a 400% improvement.

Want to learn more? Read The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. (Affiliate link). It’s an amazing book.

I remember committing to gymnastics at a pretty young age. I decided when I was probably around 10 that I was going to be doing gymnastics for a looong time. And I was not good at first – I rarely won events and medaled infrequently all through elementary and middle school.  But I loved being in the gym and I worked hard.

Then I got to high school and won my first state championship, made the jr national team and ultimately finished 4th in the nation for the under 18 age group my senior year. There were plenty of kids who beat me when I was younger, but I out-committed and out-trained them all.

How strong is your commitment?

I’ve been turned down, rejected and blown off for seven days straight. I’m thrilled.

In my last post on the Fear Scorecard, I discuss something I discovered via Hacker The site offers up a challenge with one rule: Get personally rejected by someone everyday for 30 days. The goal, according to its Creator Jason Cowlely is to reduce the fear and pain felt around rejection, encourage more open and “risky” social interactions and reap the many rewards that this comes with. (See the about page)

After reading it, I got really interested in doing it. I thought about how I even though I can tolerate a lot of physical pain and academic and career failure, I really don’t like being rejected. This is an area I’d like to tackle and conquer.

So I went for it. The results of just one week have been very interesting and I’ve decided to share them on my blog and see what happens. I dashed off emails of my rejection attempts each day to a couple friends to keep me on track. They’ve been tweaked for readability. Hope you find them interesting and they inspire you to give this a shot.


Warmup: asked a lady in airport store if she could “Get me one of these headphones in a different color.” She said no – that’s all they had. SOFTBALL REJECTION!

Main ask: on my Virgin America, I asked the flight attendants if I could fly first class. At first they said “You sure can!” and I followed with “For free” which they rejected. But they were nice about it: “It’s a short flight and even we don’t get free upgrades!”. REJECTION!


Asked a total stranger for their conference schedule guidebook because I didn’t get one. After a big “Pleeease?”, she gave it to me. Damn! But it started a nice conversation. REJECTION FAIL!

Then asked some other girl that my coworkers knew if I could have her Carwoo! sticker and she said “Nope!” REJECTION!

I was so happy! I told her about the challenge and she made me ask her friend out to dinner. Her friend thought about it and then said “I don’t eat dinner”. SILLY REJECTION!


Yesterday I was at Starbucks and their veggie sandwich was literally half the size of the turkey one, so I asked a Starbucks employee if i could have two sandwiches for the price of one. She said no. I decide after this that I’m going to try to avoid business transactions. REJECTION!


I went in for a hug with someone – and she rebuffed this advance. I was a little shocked, but then I realized I had told her about the challenge so it didn’t count. (She then gave me a hug afterward.) SORT OF REJECTION!

Later we were trying to unload our isocket tshirts to people at the conference. Most people were happy to take a shirt, but I approached a few people who had absolutely no interest in a free shirt. REJECTION!


This day was tough. A girl I had met the night before had given me her phone number and told me to call her to get a drink the next day. I didn’t really want to call, but my coworkers said I had to. So I called and left a message and she never responded. SORT OF REJECTION!

Then at the airport I told the TSA people that I had a knee brace before I walked through the detector and it didn’t go off. They said I still had to do a scan. I asked if I could skip it since there was no alarm but they said because I disclosed, they had to. What else would you expect from the TSA? LAME REJECTION!


Was going to ask a girl on the train for her number, but there were a bunch of other people there and I didn’t want to make her feel awkward (aka I was being a wuss). FAILED REJECTION!

Then at lunch I complimented a woman on her sunglasses and asked if we could swap. She refused and said that her sunglasses wouldn’t look good on me. REJECTION!

More interestingly, I then decided I would ask another cute girl on the train for her number. This time, I end up sitting across the aisle from her and had a conversation with her (which was mostly her getting nervous energy out because she had forgotten to validate her caltrain ticket). By the time we got off the train and I went to ask for her number, we had connected enough that she said “Sure!” Not bad at all. FAILED REJECTION!


I wanted to knock my rejection out right away so when I was at the Caltrain station, I was looking for opportunities to get rejected. Then I spied a guy eating a croissant and decided to ask if I could have some. Who gives strangers a piece of their croissant? He kind of looked at me funny and pointed at the coffeeshop where he got it, but I insisted that I wanted a piece of HIS croissant. When he asked “just a little piece?” my heart sank. He ended up giving me his croissant. I had to eat it, smile, and then slowly back away. FAILED REJECTION!

Later in the evening, I was at a bar in SF at a bar – I introduced myself to two guys and they were like “Whoa you’ve changed!” Apparently they had run into another Asian guy named Jason at this bar. So I started joking that we needed to fight until there was only ONE! And I asked one of the guys if he’d be my 2nd. You know, in case I died. He said “Yeah, I don’t think I’m down.” REJECTION!

My non-duel partner friend then said “I’ll think about it though if you introduce me to that cute girl over there.” He pointed at someone. I didn’t know who she or any of the five guys she was talking to were. But I said “Ok” and just walked over there, introduced myself to the group, started talking with the girl. After a second, I asked her “Have you met Eric?” After seeding their conversation with a few hooks I took off and let Cupid do his thing. NOT REJECTION BUT STILL AWESOME!

Europe 2010 from Jason Shen on Vimeo.

I went to Europe in late September, early October with a couple close high school buddies and it was a ton of fun. This was my first big trip abroad besides trips to China with family, and I got to do some fun stuff:

  • Have tea and crumpets at the Wolseley
  • Have a 7 course meal at Gordon Ramsey
  • Tour the Notre Dame
  • Drink Heineken at the original factory-turned-museum
  • Visit Amsterdamn’s Red Light district
  • See Buckingham Palace
  • Do a flagpole in front of the Eiffel Tower
  • Play lots of video games while it rained.

And I made a video. I took lots of really short clips with my iPhone and sewed them together. The style was inspired by another travel video made by a group of friends visiting Taiwan. My video doesn’t hold a candle to theirs, but I still enjoy watching it. Hope you do too.