The Second Mix Podcast - Reflect, Revise, and Remix Your Life
Aug. 19, 2021

Book Jam: Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang

Book Jam: Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang

The Ideas and Concepts Mastermind (Facebook Group)
Summary and review of the book Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang. 
A little bit of a format change for this episode, here are some stories about times I've been rejected, and the toll it took on my life. 


, lately the past couple of weeks is it has me reflecting on some of my past rejections and how they stunted my growth as an entrepreneur, but also some ways that those rejections have helped me 26 years ago. 

When I was 21 years old, I wrote three Christian songs. My parents bought me a, it was one of those public TV auctions, and somebody was giving away recording studio time. My parents bought it for me and I went and recorded these songs in a professional studio. That was my first studio experience and I loved it. So I got the songs. I brought them home. I had the tape, I made copies of the tape and I went and got the writer's digest for songwriters.

I created some nice little folder packages, and I sent the tapes of my recordings to about 10 publishers after doing some research in that guide over the next few weeks, I got three rejection letters in the mail and never heard back from the other seven. The rejection letters went, something like this, “sorry, you're not, this is not what we were looking for.” And I took that to mean “you suck.” 

After being rejected. I decided I just wasn't cut out to be a songwriter. I gave up and started looking at other avenues that I could take to make money with my music in his book Your Next Five Moves, Patrick Bet David said, “if you're going to lose, don't lose the lesson.” But back then I was 21. I was foolish and I lost the lesson. I should have reflected, but I just didn't know enough.

At that young age, I wasn't hanging out with the right people. I was pretty reserved. So I didn't really talk about my problems or my emotions all that much. And I didn't seek any outside counsel. I didn't ask my parents. I didn't ask my pastor. I didn't ask anybody that I knew how to resolve this. I just decided I must suck as a songwriter. My first three songs that I ever wrote got rejected, so I've got to find something else to do. Had I sought out counsel, I would have hoped that they would have said something similar to what I would tell people today, which is that you continue writing music, continue submitting to publishers, call the publishers and songwriters and other people in the industry to find out how to do this, how to get this done, what skills do you need to learn in order to make it, and then go learn those skills and you keep trying and you keep figuring it out.

But back then, it was a lot easier for me just to say, “I'm just not cut out to be a songwriter.” And I did that after only three rejections. 

Here's a side note. It's really weird when I'm talking about past regrets and changing the past. Because at this point I love my life. I love where I am and I love where this life has taken me to this point. So to go back, I wouldn't change anything because it would influence where I am and what I'm doing today.

But for good or for bad, the lessons we learn can only be applied forward. It's unhealthy to keep wishing things were different to keep mentally applying the lessons backward, but it is important to do that analysis and reflect so that in the future, you don't make the same or similar errors in thinking and similar errors in judgment.

My mentor, Joe Herbert from the Job Free Economy podcast said that “making mistakes is what is holding you back. If we could go through life without making any mistakes, we would constantly just be moving towards success.” I believe that and stick to it. And I look for things that are going to help me avoid mistakes. I do that now, but I didn't do it back then. 

And speaking of making those mistakes 23 years, after being rejected by those publishers in that time, I had written recorded, and produced six albums and I submitted three songs. And this was just a couple of years ago. I submitted three songs for sync licensing. For those who don't know, sync licensing is how you get your songs on TV and in the movies, and in commercials. They are services that you send your songs to, and then those services will place your songs as an agent.

So I submitted three songs and I was rejected for all three of those songs. And at that point just a couple of years ago, I decided that I was not cut out for sync licensing. I gave up, as soon as I got the rejections, this is such a parallel to what happened 23 years earlier. And I firmly believe that if just once in those 23 years, if I had reflected on why I didn't make it as a songwriter, the first time around and figured that out, I would not have quit so easily the second time around. 

And that is the detriment that you have in your life. When you don't take the time to look at the things you don't like and reflect on them, figure out how to change them, and then change them. My key takeaways from this experience, this 23 years of experience was this

(01)  I didn't ever take the time to even wonder why things weren't working out for me.

I was just living a life on autopilot. I was told no, and I just decided, okay, that's not for me. And then I was told no again and decided that wasn't for me, I was living by default. Whatever I got was just what I got. If you want something to happen, you've got to keep reflecting. You've got to keep revising, studying, asking, trying new things, learning new information, trying new things with that new information, and just keep going till you get it. 

(02) My second takeaway is that you need to believe in yourself enough to know that you have the ability to make amazing things happen. Both times my songs were rejected. I quickly decided like spot on quickly decided that this just wasn't for me. I decided I wasn't good enough. Instead of trying to 

  1. press on and figure out who is going to be interested in my songs. Remember there were only a handful of publishers, a handful of rejections and 
  2. How can I improve my skills in songwriting communication and marketing myself so that I can get better at my craft and get more people interested in what I do 

(03) Takeaway Number three is that these experiences actually did mold me. I have, at this point had jobs as a newspaper reporter, a ghostwriter, a technical writer, live musician, studio, musician, worship band leader, magician and magic teacher, a music teacher, a public speaker website, designer, graphic designer. And I probably missed a couple there. And I wouldn't give any of this up, but I think that every failure in any area pushed me into giving up and deciding to try a different area. Some things like the being, being a website designer got difficult. There was, I found some, a couple of picky, bad clients who were just on me about everything.

And I'm like this isn't for me, everything that I did, everything that I was interested in. As soon as it got hard, I gave up and said, I'm going to move on to something else. 

(04) And this leads me to my final and probably most important point. Consistency is the key. Ira Glass said one of my favorite things ever. And I'm actually going to read it to you here:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners. I wish someone had told me all of us who do creative work. We get into it because we have good taste, but there's a gap for the first couple of years. You make stuff. It's just not that good. It's trying to be good. It has potential, but it's not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints. You, a lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting creative work went through years of this. We know our work, doesn't have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this and if you're just starting out, or if you're still in this phase, you got to know it's normal. And the most important thing you can do is a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It's only by going through a volume of work that you're going to close the gap and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I've ever met. It's going to take awhile. It's normal to take awhile. You just got to fight your way through.

When IRA glass said that it had a profound effect on me because I realized that is what I had been doing the whole time.

If my taste got me into the game and it was killer, then my work was going to disappoint me. As soon as I had some tiny little confirmation that my work was not that good, I would quit and move on to something else. If there's a goal that you really want to accomplish or some passion in your life that you really feel a need to pursue, don't let a handful of failures get in your way, be consistent, keep doing the work, and looking for ways to improve it. 

And you're going to end up where you want to, you're going to end up where you want to be. Usually, there's no fanfare. There are no fireworks. You're just going to look back and realize that you've done it.