From Jason: Today we’ve got a guest post with Jonathan Gurrera, on some of the crazy behavior change tactics he used to power through rejection therapy.

He’s an account strategist at Google, a gig he earned after investing dozens of hours of preparation through a system of gamification that he created for himself. It’s fair to say that he’s pretty obsessed with engineering his behavior and I think there’s a lot to learn from Jonathan’s approach to behavior change.

So enjoy and here’s Jonathan:

My experience with rejection (and how it benefits you)

One of my first encounters with The Art of Ass Kicking was reading about Jason’s experiences with Rejection Therapy. The idea of Rejection Therapy resonated with me for one reason, and one reason alone: rejection scares the living crap out of me. Nevertheless, handling rejection is such an important life skill, I didn’t feel it was an option to allow myself to be affected so strongly by it.

While all rejections are less than pleasant, I tend to let rejection control me most in social realm – especially when it comes to introducing myself to strangers or asking girls out. Quite aware of this, I’ve recently decided it was time to be more proactive with this area of my life. But rather than use a brute force strategy (i.e. pound shots when I’m not feeling social at a party), I wanted to create a system that subtly, but consistently guided me to take positive actions, even with the risk of rejection present.

My weapon of choice for creating this system was gamification, the application of game mechanics to systems where they may not have otherwise existed. Although I was new to the use of gamification for rejection therapy, I’m no stranger to using gamification to get things done, build habits, and achieve epic wins. In this post, I’ll be focusing on the use of gamification for systematically overcoming rejection. I’m still in the midst of this long-term experiment, so I’ll be sharing my progress thus far, with the hope that you can use these techniques in your own life. Continue reading

[alert style=”green”]Time management is a topic many seek to understand and master, but it is somewhat of a misnomer. We can’t really manage our time, we can only manage our behavior and what we put our energies and efforts on. Between Microsoft, volunteer work and competitive tennis, our guest poster Lilia Gutnik is a busy woman. Learn her secrets in the guest post below – Jason[/alert]

Photo credit: Ricksflicks

It’s cliche, but I have come to appreciate the adage “Time is the great equalizer – everyone has the same amount.”

I used to beat myself up for not doing as much as the incredible people around me; people who could accomplish so much more than I seem to be able to. I would hear about their accomplishments and instead of being inspired, I would feel overwhelmed.

I talked about this on a 30 mile bike ride commute into work with a buddy of mine a few years ago. We would do this once a week at daybreak, catching the sunrise over the lake. The ride took 2 hours, plus shower and chocolate milk rehydration put me at my desk by 9am. I didn’t feel like I could balance training for a 300 mile bike ride (STP, a 1 or 2 day Seattle to Portland ride) with my tennis team upcoming season.

He said: “Lil, think about everything you are doing right now. List it out.”

So I did. And I felt pretty accomplished, actually. Because when I added everything up, I felt like I wasn’t as far off from those people I was feeling jealous of.

Thought Exercise #1:

When you feel like you’re not doing enough, consciously list out everything that is on your plate.

Then he said: “Now, if you want to ride 300 miles in a day, you’re going to have to train for at least 2 months ahead of time. That means riding every week 3-4 times to and from work, the long way. Plus a long ride every weekend, working up from 50 to 100 miles.”

“But I can’t ride that much and play tennis, I won’t have enough daylight left. And my legs will be worn out”

“That’s right, Lil. You have to choose. You can’t keep adding things to your list. If you want to do this, you definitely can. But you have to drop something else. What would you drop?”

Thought Exercise #2:

Be honest with your time. If you pick up a new activity or are working towards a new goal, evaluate how much time it will really require to do well and think about what existing activities will be affected by it.

And here’s the important part, at least for me. When I choose my activity, I actively stop doing something else. I don’t try to keep a hold on it just a little, just on weekends, just once a month. If I pick something new up, I have to commit to the new thing whole-heartedly or else it won’t really be fulfilling, worth-while, or done well.

So that helps me – it helps me say no to new random hobbies (Trapeze? Glass-blowing?). It helps me feel good about what I am doing (Look at me! I do all this stuff!). And it helps me really take on new activities without feeling like I’m going to fail because I know I’ve made the time for it.

Oh and by the way: I didn’t do the 300 mile ride. Instead I fully committed to my local tennis team season. We ended the season first in the division, won our local championship, and traveled to Portland to compete in the regional championship. So I guess I made it to Portland after all.

After graduating from UC Berkeley in 2007, Lilia Gutnik ( moved to the Pacific Northwest where she learned how to ride her bike around Lake Washington with the encouragement of her friend Matthew Pearlson. Her commute to work is now to the Bing offices, where she is a technical product manager on the monetization team. In her spare time, she still plays competitive tennis, travels to far-off countries, tells stories, and occasionally gets overwhelmed by the number of things she wants to do but doesn’t have time for.

[alert style=”grey”]Hey guys,

I wanted to share with you a guest post from Aaron Tucker, one of the guys on Sebastian Marshall’s One Week Book Project team. In this post he shares some valuable insights into how you ought to think about your ideas and separating your beliefs from your identity.

The book itself, Ikagi, is phenomenal. I bought it, read it and have great things to say (amazon review). 4.5 stars from 24 people means I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Hope you enjoy the guest post!


Treat Your Ideas as Tools

I’m Aaron Tucker, and I just led the project management on The One Week Book Project.

This started with Sebastian Marshall putting together a team to take a principled stand against badness in publishing. It was my idea to do it only one week to show publishing what’s possible in the modern age.

We put together a kick ass team, collaborated intimately, and we produced a work that people are calling “life changing” in just a single week.

The title is IKIGAI, the Japanese word for “all-consuming passion, raison d’etre.” You should get a copy, it might change your life:

I’m here to talk about what I learned, so you can learn from it.

The hardest part wasn’t any of the actual work – picking the right posts, curating them, editing them, collaborating with the team, sometimes staying up late at night on Skype – all of that was fun.

The hardest part was owning up to the fact that I chose content for the book. Sebastian makes controversial points, and I worried that I’d be taking a path where people would eventually disagree with me.

It’s like the awkward pause in a dinner conversation, or the moment when you’re not sure if you’re about to put your foot in your mouth. You don’t want to say something that looks stupid, or reflects badly on you.
Continue reading

Hey guys, I recently participated in a blog swap hosted by 20-Something Bloggers where two bloggers cross post on each other’s sites. My swapee? The wonderful Kat Richter. She’s got a great dating blog out in Philadelphia and I  wrote a guest post for her called: 6 Thoughts on Online Dating from a Guy’s Perspective. Hope you enjoy Kat’s guest post! – Jason

Before we get started, I need to let you in on a little secret: my name is Kat Richter, I’m a Philadelphia-based serial dater (amongst other things) and I don’t actually know the first thing about kicking-ass.  I write a blog called After I Quit my Day Job in which I chronicle my daily adventures in life, literature and the (City of Brotherly) love and when I learned that Jason was to be my blog swap partner, my first thought was: Me?  Kicking ass?  I don’t think so…

This is perhaps because during the school year, I spend the majority of my time trying to prevent the kicking of asses; I teach creative movement for a non-profit, arts-integrated Headstart preschool program in North Philly so if any asses are inadvertently kicked in my dance studio, I need to fill out an incident report form and I really hate those things.

Nonetheless, if you were to take a look at my passport and the various student visas contained therein, it would appear that I am indeed “driven, ambitious and intelligent.”  And if I were to show you my spreadsheet, you’d realize that I’m nothing if not goal-oriented.

But wait—you don’t know about my spreadsheet, do you?  Of course not.  Allow me to explain:

When I turned 25, I decided to celebrate my birthday (and imminent spinsterhood) with a three-month subscription to  Having completed my graduate work in anthropology, I decided it might be fun to try a little “experiment,” in which I’d attempt to date 30 men in 90 days.  You can read about my first date (and each of the subsequent 60-something encounters) here but for today’s purposes, you simply need to know that I had just returned to the US after nearly a year and a half in London.   I hated my job, hated my new address and essentially hated everything this side of the Atlantic so obviously this was the optimal time to go seeking a new relationship.

I uploaded my profile to and before I knew it, I’d scheduled five first dates in as many days.  Eventually I landed a bi-weekly column in which I was actually paid to write about dating (which led to many a sticky situation so far as men in question were concerned) and resorted to tracking my love life in an Excel spreadsheet. Continue reading

Doing Rejection Therapy has allowed me to meet all kinds of interesting people. One of them is Matt Ramos, a college student in California. He’s in the process of transforming himself from being a shy quiet guy to a fearless doer who gets after his dreams. I thought I might share his story with you here. I hope you enjoy it!

– Jason

The Power of Having a Mindset of Infinite Opportunity

By Matt Ramos

I was a huge introvert throughout my teenage years.

I was extremely timid around all people because I made assumptions as to what they were thinking about me.

Being in a shy mindset created a life where very few doors opened for me. Or even if many doors did open, I never gave myself a chance to walk through it due to the fear of being embarrassed or rejected.

The few times I did open the door only revealed humiliating experiences. I was rejected by my high school crush of two years. I didn’t fit in with anyone because I didn’t want to be another face in the crowd, which made people call me weird. I had it rough because I was the second quietest kid in the school. So people would give their sympathy to the shyest kid in the school, whereas I was simply a shadow.

So for the next couple of years, I shut myself out from the world. If the world would be that terrible, then why should I put myself out there?

After more negative experiences, I finally stumbled on the SFGate article that features Jason Shen.

I knew I had to follow the example that was given in Rejection Therapy.

Rejection Therapy Begins

In January and February of 2011, I did a daily rejection everyday. I was able to ask people if they wanted something I offered (like food), ask girls out, ask people to study with me, ask someone for a sip of her drink, and ask people to catch up with me.

For example, there was a girl in front of me in my class that intrigued me. She seemed to be interesting. Then I thought to myself, “How can I benefit her?”

When you think in terms of benefiting that person, then they are more likely to accept. Everyone would say yes to something that benefited them right?

So on the third day of class, I finally got the courage to ask her, “Hi, so what did you think of our professor?”

She told me that, “Well he doesn’t really look like a professor; he looks more like a surfer!”

Then we ended up chatting for a few more minutes after that. Before she left, I asked her if she wanted to study with me in that class. She gladly accepted.

Throughout that whole class, we ended up chatting together. We built up rapport and started making jokes with one another.

We lost touch after the class ended because she was from out of town.

However, taking that chance enabled me to get a good grade in my class and kept me from being totally bored in that class.

I’ll take a risk of rejection for those benefits any day. Instead of sitting around on my iphone and playing Angry Birds all day, I found out that talking to strangers could be more rewarding.

Create Your Own Infinite Opportunity

It’s like an once-in-a-lifetime experience except you have full control over how you can get it. You don’t have to wait around passively for opportunity to come. You can create it at any moment.

You have the power to create as many door-opening opportunities as you’d want if you change your mindset in one way.

That one way is letting go of a desired outcome and letting that outcome just happen.

If the girl rejects you, you win because you just got rejected. If she accepts your date, then you win because you just got a date. It’s a win-win situation.

If you ask someone to help you with something (study, projects, etc.), and they say no, you win because you just got rejected. If they say yes, then you’ve got the help you need. It’s a win-win situation.

When you can think of rejection as a door-opening experience rather than a feeling of inferiority or embarrassment, then you have an infinite amount of doors in front of you all the time.

Rejection can hurt but will you let that fear of being hurt take all the opportunity away from you?

It’s your right to take a chance.

The rest is up to you to actually take that chance.

If you want to start your own 30-day Rejection Therapy challenge, you can go to, ask Jason about it, or contact me.

Matt Ramos is a college student who wants to eliminate fear, create possibilities, and contribute to the world as much as possible by the age of 30. Rejection Therapy is just one of his tools to make that vision a reality. You can visit his site here at