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 site, but I wanted to share some parts of it with you – with commentary. Enjoy!

REJECTION THERAPYIn search of confidence


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 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 ( 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 – – 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

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!

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Jason Shen

Jason is a tech entrepreneur and talent expert. He is CEO of a performance hiring platform called Headlight, a Fast Company contributor, and an advocate for Asian American men. Follow him on Twitter at @jasonshen and subscribe to his private newsletter.

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