YANSS 049 – Overcoming our irrational and sometimes crippling fear of rejection with Jia Jiang

What if you could give yourself a superpower – not Hulk-level strength, not telekinesis, but something realistic, something that added a superhuman ability by taking away a normal human limitation?

That’s what Jia Jiang wondered when he began a quest to remove the fear of rejection from his brain.


This episode is sponsored by the excellent and mind-bending movie Ex Machina – in theaters now. Seriously, it’s really good. Go see it.

This episode is also sponsored by Wealthfront, the automated investment service that makes it easy to invest your money the right way. Visit this link to to get your first $10,000 managed for free.

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In this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast you’ll hear how Jiang wanted to become an entrepreneur ever since he was 14-years-old and Bill Gates visited his hometown. Two-years later, he traveled to the United States. He eventually got a degree, got married, got a job, and at 30, right after having his first child, decided to finally take the plunge and start his own business. But four months into the adventure, a crucial investor rejected him. Jia was crushed. He became worried that his business would fail not because he needed funding, but because his fear of rejection was now magnified to stasis-inducing proportions.

Jia JiangTo rid himself of that irrational emotion, Jiang created his own fear-elimination course – 100 days of rejection-based exposure therapy. In the episode you’ll hear how he reframed his outlook by actively seeking to be rejected, counting each “no” as a success instead of a failure and eventually learned how to pivot, to negotiate, to connect, and more than half of the time, get a “yes.”

Today, Jiang feels like he he earned the same superpower that people like Bill Gates enjoy naturally, and he did it by slogging through the pain and fear that keeps so many of us stuck in neutral – the fear of rejection. He’s written a book about it titled Rejection Proof.

swedish cookieAfter the interview, I discuss a new study that suggests shared laughter, even in a comedy club or movie theater, brings people closer, fosters intimacy, and can lead to disclosure.

In every episode, after I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of one of my books, and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode’s winner is Carly Alter who submitted a recipe for Swedish cookies. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

Links and Sources


Previous Episodes

Boing Boing Podcasts

Cookie Recipes

Jia Jiang’s Website

Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection

Acetaminophen reduces social pain: behavioral and neural evidence.

After laughing, people are more willing to share personal details about themselves

Laughter’s Influence on the Intimacy of Self-Disclosure

Laughter in Conversation: Features of Occurrence and Acoustic Structure