San Francisco Chronicle covers Jason C, Jason S and Rejection Therapy

NOTE: The Rejection Therapy iPhone app just came out. Now you can access a plethora of rejection ideas and stay on track with your challenge with your phone! Get it here.

The San Francisco Chronicle published a story today on Rejection Therapy which covers Jason Comely’s decision to embark upon this challenge as well as my adventures with rejection therapy.

Having worked at a newspaper and seen the editorial process up close and personal, I get a little nervous before an article about me or something I’m associated with comes out. You never really know how it’s going to depict you.

Luckily, I think the article came out pretty well. You can read it on the SFGate.com site, but I wanted to share some parts of it with you – with commentary. Enjoy!

REJECTION THERAPYIn search of confidence

By Meredith May – CHRONICLE STAFF WRITER

Nice guys have it rough. Take Jason Shen, for example. All he wanted to do was say hello and pass out candy on his morning walk to the Caltrain station in San Francisco.

“Uh, no,” said one man, backing away.

Shen next held out his plastic jack-o-lantern for a groundskeeper riding on the back of a utility truck.

“Too early,” she said, shaking her head.

In front of the Academy of Art University, a young woman in pigtails and knee socks took out her ear buds to hear his pitch, laughed at him and walked off.

“Ugh. That one really hurt, because she was cute,” said Shen, 24.

Rejection stings, but it’s exactly what Shen wants.

He’s on a self-imposed, self-improvement plan to get rejected by a different person every day for a month — a quest to get over his fear of rejection.

So how did any of this happen? To be honest, I’m not totally sure. I guess Meredith May, the reporter who wrote the story, got a whiff of an interesting piece and interviewed Jason Comely. She also then talked with Veronica from the Rejection Therapy Facebook group (which is quite active and supportive for a Facebook group, I must say).After learning about Rejection Therapy from those folks, she talked with me and then had me followed with a camera while she observed watched me do rejection attempts “live”.

It’s all part of the 30-Day Rejection Therapy Challenge — a real-life game created in September by a Canadian Web designer with an anxiety disorder. And it has become a cult phenomenon as the idea spreads through Facebook, Twitter, the Hacker News blog and other social media.

“As I was playing the game, I realized people were a lot more willing to give me what I asked for than I realized,” said creator Jason Comely, 40.

“I realized my comfort zone was like a cage keeping me from exploring a lot of opportunities. I was more inclined to stay at home in front of my computer instead of going out and interacting with people because I was too afraid of being rejected.”

Adherents in New York, Washington, San Francisco, Denmark and Hungary are documenting their denials on Facebook and Twitter. Followers can either buy a deck of cards on the rejec tiontherapy.com website with suggested ways to get denied — Invite someone you’ve never socialized with out to dinner, ask someone their political affiliation — or players can come up with ideas on their own

It’s pretty amazing to see where its gone.

Jason Comely is a pretty amazing guy. The fact that he was able to recognize he was being too introverted and limiting himself, and deciding on his own to create this game is incredible. Who does that? It’s like being a heavy smoker and then creating a internationally renown “Quit Smoking” program. When you are extremely introverted, doing rejection therapy opens up a whole new world for you and I think Jason is a great example of that.

Shen, who works in sales for a high-tech startup in Burlingame, started rejection therapy to become more outgoing.

“I think fear of rejection holds me back,” he said. “I have this co-worker who talks to anybody and has a lot of friends.

All these weird opportunities come to him because he’s willing to put himself out there. I find that appealing.”

Coaching others

Since playing Rejection Therapy, Shen has received so many responses to his blog (www.jasonshen.com) that he’s now offered to help coach others through their own 30-day rejection challenge.

It’s true. I was talking about my coworker Ryan Hupfer, one of the coolest guys I know. You should read his blog – HupandSteph.com – he’s just got interesting and funny stories about his life and the people he’s met.

I’ve also been helping out a few folks who are doing Rejection Therapy. Here’s some advice. Shoot me an email with where you’re at (see the sidebar) and I’d love to help you too.

From his rejections and acceptances, he learned that people don’t say no because there’s something fundamentally wrong with him; they say no because they don’t want the offer.

“Once I learned not to take it personally, everything got so much easier,” he said.

Eventually, someone took Shen’s candy. Jesse Acosta, a model on his way to the Academy of Art University, reached into the jack-o-lantern and took a fistful of lollipops.

“I didn’t think it was odd he was passing out candy to strangers; I just figured he had too much leftover Halloween candy,” Acosta said.

Acosta planned to pass the suckers out to his friends. “I’ll spread the goodwill, kind of like he is doing,” Acosta said.

Shen says his life has become much more like his suave co-worker’s since he started Rejection Therapy.

He recently shared dinner with a woman he’s had a crush on for months.

After the date, she e-mailed to say how much she admired his rejection experiment. He wrote back, explaining how much he likes her.

“I wanted to take the risk, and I told her if she doesn’t feel the same way, that’s OK. Sure, that would be disappointing, but I’ve learned that really, everything will be OK.”

E-mail Meredith May at mmay@sfchronicle.com.

Ultimately, I think one of best things I got out of Rejection Therapy is the feeling that it’s ok to go for things and interact with strangers. And that asking usually won’t hurt you at all. I talk a lot more about this in my final review of rejection therapy. I think Meredith did a great job with the story and it was a fun experience – thanks for reading and be sure to check our weekly podcast on Rejection Therapy!

Six Observations from Startup Weekend

I spent the past weekend glued to my laptop, helping put together a cool app called Man Badges in 48 hours at Startup Weekend at Hacker Dojo (sponsored by Women 2.0) It was my first Startup Weekend and I really enjoyed it. There have been some interesting responses so far from other newbies but I wanted to share my perspective and the six things I noticed.

1) People ramble during idea pitches and demos

The organizers enforced very strict cut offs for pitches (60 seconds) and demos (5 mins + 3 mins Q&A). At first it seemed harsh, but then I realized it’s because almost everyone will ramble when they are handed a mike if they don’t have a clear and *real* timeline.

2) Food, seating/table space, outlets and wifi are the key resources to any kind of Hackathon

Seriously, besides awesome people, those  four are the key ingredients to making an event like this a success. I think Startup Weekend did a phenomenal job with food, a solid job with space and outlets, but really bombed on wifi. We often ended up going back to a coworker’s house to hack more because the internets were just soooo sloowww.

3) Ship-driven energy is contagious

If eveyrone around you is working furiously towards finishing something presentable in less than 2 days, you stop getting distracted about random stuff – and start focusing on shipping. It’s inspiring and really cuts to the core of what startups are all about – making things happen out of nothing.

4) There is a big difference between building an idea and building a solution

Most of the “startups” that came out of this weekend were apps would do something interesting and might be cool to talk about as a new way of doing things. This is very different from the small batch of startups that actually thought hard about a really problem and developed a solution around that idea. Both are valid, but make sure you know which one you are.

5) Plan for some teammates to drop out

I’m the kind of guy who really goes all out for things, but I know some people don’t do things my way. Many teams (including my own) slowly started to lose players over lack of time and hunger, tiredness and de-motivation. It happens. Adapt.

6) Be prepared for anything if you pitch a man-app at a women 2.0 sponsored event

Right before Man Badges went up to present, I was a little nervous as I had no idea how everyone was going to take it. Luckily everyone had a good sense of humor about it and I was quite relieved. Our demo went great and the app was well-liked: check out all the tweets.

    All in all, I had a really good time. It was hard work, but fun too and I got to meet some interesting people. To see more pictures, head to the Women 2.0 Facebook album. If you’re interested in learning more about Man Badges click here.