What I Learned From Doing a One-Month Rejection Challenge

Whether it’s in our professional (for a job or for a promotion) or personal life (by our significant other or a prospect), being rejected sucks. It’s hard not to take it personally because it puts our ego on the line. My, mine’s been bruised so many times I’ve lost count! Hate it or love it, it’s an inevitable part of growing up.

I used to get frustrated when someone would tell me no, especially when their reason didn’t make sense to me. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to know why, and other times, you just have to carry on without closure. People say no for different reasons and it’s healthier to focus on the only thing we can control – our reaction.

Rejection challenge

So, I’ve learned how to deal with the word no through a one-month rejection challenge. Basically, I intentionally put myself in situations where people were likely to reject me. For four weeks, I did something outside of my comfort zone that forced me to go talk to people.

Week 1 – I invited strangers out for coffee.

Week 2 – I volunteered to speak at a workshop in front of a big crowd

Week 3- I asked my network for help

and

Week 4 – I competed in a poetry slam.

The outcome? 2-3 people accepted my invite. The audience at the workshop was really supportive and gave me some great feedback. Most people in my network didn’t end up helping me, but a few of them did, and I didn’t win first place in the poetry slam but made some great friends that night.

Here are 3 important lessons I learned from doing this one-month rejection challenge:

There is ALWAYS a silver lining

I wanted to win first place at the poetry slam, but that night, I gained something much more valuable – public speaking skills and a few more people in my network. You’ve heard the cliche, “When a door closes, another one opens” and probably rolled your eyes at it, but it’s true. Sometimes, you work hard for something only to find out it’s not what you really want. Your dream company might not end up being the right cultural fit after all and that’s okay. The important thing is to learn to look on the bright side because there is always a silver lining. ALWAYS. Even when it doesn’t immediately manifest, it’s still there. Also, just because it’s not something tangible (say a job, an opportunity etc.) doesn’t mean it’s any less valuable. Self-awareness is key and every experience – at the very least – serves the purpose of providing more of that.

Help is always within reach – an email or call away

After doing the rejection challenge, I realized that I used to underestimate how much people were willing top help. Truth is, receiving help is simply a matter of asking. You might feel weird about it like you’re bothering them, but it can be worth the interruption. You might find that you’re not alone in a particular situation. At any point in time, there’s always a community of people experiencing the same difficulties as you and coming together usually just takes one person reaching out. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If someone says no, chances are, four other people will say yes. You just have to find them.

Take it from me, I used to waste time thinking of multiple ways to solve a problem – when teaming up with someone would’ve been more efficient. Be willing to contribute to other people’s growth too. Just remember, together is always stronger than alone.

Rejection is rarely personal

You might kill yourself trying to figure out why you didn’t get a job – thinking maybe you shouldn’t have worn that blazer to the interview or shouldn’t have asked that question – when the company could have just not had the budget for it anymore. People are weird. They harbor biases and fears that influence the way they interact with others. And this is why you shouldn’t assume every rejection is your fault. This attitude can not only damage your self-esteem, but it can make it harder to deal with the many instances of rejection.

Sure, you can think about what you’ll do better next time, but just know that rejection often has to do with factors outside of your control. So it’s best to focus on your circle of influence (as Stephen Covey from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People would say) – your thoughts, attitudes and actions.

Doing the rejection challenge was an incredible learning experience. Truth is, it was more about me building up the confidence to put myself out there than it was about these people’s reactions. It desensitized me to the effect of the word no. I used to hate it, but now it’s my motivation.

So, are you up for a challenge?

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3 Ways to Channel Your Entrepreneurial Spirit

The internet is flooded with stories of people who quit their 9 to 5 to follow their dreams. You remember Tiffany who left her day job as a lawyer to explore the world and become a travel planner or Myles, the director of sales who gave guitar lessons on the side until he made enough money to do that full-time. There isn’t a shortage of guides that show you the steps to take towards becoming your own boss. Entrepreneurship is in vogue these days. The influence is so ubiquitous that you might start to feel like you’re doing something wrong if that’s not your goal.

When most people think about it though, they picture the end result before they even consider the journey. They imagine a CEO laying on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean and making money while she sleeps, but not the long nights she spent couch surfing and testing prototypes. No one can deny the perks of owning a business – unlimited income potential, freedom to travel and decide how to spend your days etc. The strongest appeal is the control it gives someone over their own time, but that all comes with a fair share of sacrifices and hard work.

One thing is clear: entrepreneurship is not for everyone. The constant hustle and bustle is a challenge only few are willing to take on. Maybe you prefer having more structure in your days or you’re more of an enabler. That’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to work for someone – though mainstream media might make you feel differently.Self-awareness is key to figuring out what works for you. And this is why this article will also speak to my multipotentialites with regular jobs and who don’t necessarily want to start their own company.

Deep down, I believe everyone is an entrepreneur. It doesn’t necessarily take running a business to manifest that. As Doug McCormack once said, “No matter what your profession, you are a business owner. Your business sells labor and manages assets to support the spending needs of your family. Labor is likely your largest asset and must be actively managed just like your finances.” If we think of ourselves as startups, we are all in the business of developing our abilities. And in the words of Bertie Forbes, “If you don’t drive your business, you will be driven out of business.”

Channeling your entrepreneurial spirit

More than anything, entrepreneurship is a growth mindset, a proactive attitude that anticipates change before it happens and always looks for ways to innovate. As FlexJobs CEO Sara Sutton Fell puts it, “an entrepreneurial spirit is a way of approaching situations where you feel empowered, motivated, and capable of taking things into your own hands.”

Most importantly, having an entrepreneurial spirit can help one realize their full potential. It’s a driving force that pushes you to think like an owner and continuously learn.

How do you develop that mindset?

At work

Use your expertise to streamline a process or creatively solve problems

Few companies give you the opportunity to take initiative as often as startups do. At my old job, one of the interns stood out by creating a database that kept all our records in one place. It was much needed, but no one had the bandwidth to do. He used his knowledge of Excel and coding to build the tool. It was all within his area of expertise. By championing the idea, he demonstrated leadership that eventually got him promoted.

If you’re sitting at work frustrated with the speed of the internet, maybe you can work with the IT guy to find a solution? Or if your boss always makes you manually look for contacts at a specific company, you can probably create a spreadsheet that stores all their info in one place? Whenever you take the initiative to fix a problem at work, you are acting as an intrapreneur and making yourself more indispensable to the company.

Look for opportunities to train or manage a team

Being in a leadership position can help you flex your entrepreneurial muscles. If your role doesn’t allow you to do so, volunteer to train the new hires or supervise their day to day. You might take some load off your boss’ shoulders and stand out as an employee. Most importantly, you will learn how to deal with (or prevent) crises, roll with the punches, improvise solutions and develop your interpersonal skills. You will feel overwhelmed at times and ask yourself why you signed up for it in the first place, but the lessons will be invaluable in helping you better work with people.

In life

Tap Into Your Creativity

You probably never thought you could make art on a canva until you went to that paint & sip event or write a poem until you attended that workshop. Within all of us exists the infinite potential to create. It’s just a matter of experimenting with things until some of them stick. And once they do, focus on honing what you already know. When was the last time you did something for the first time? Take a chance on yourself!

Did you notice that more people are coming to you for fashion advice? Maybe it’s time offer styling services or start a YouTube channel! Do you know more about something than the average person? Think about how you can share that information with others and maybe monetize it! It could be as simple as a blog or an event series. An entrepreneurially minded person is essentially always looking to start something. They’re always observing, noticing problems, questioning what already is and figuring out how to make it better.

Related: How to embrace your entrepreneurial spirit

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5 Ways You Waste Time that You Might Not Realize || From The 4-Hour Workweek

If you’re in the career/entrepreneurship world, you’ve probably heard of The 4-Hour Workweek. In short, this book explores the theme of becoming more effective within one’s unique situation. It’s hard to believe but the author, Tim Ferriss, went from making 40K per year on 80 hours per week to 40K per month on 4-hour work weeks.

I must say it’s the best self-help book I’ve come across after The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. What I love about it is that Tim doesn’t give the oh so common advice to quit your job and follow your passions full-time (which, let’s be honest, only a few privileged people get to do) or to pursue entrepreneurship even if you don’t care for it. He speaks to entrepreneurs and employees alike in showing them exactly how to align their actions with their goals. You won’t hear the theoretical cliches like, “Keep your vision in mind.” or “Write a to-do list”. No, it’s packed with actionable strategies. Tim goes into details. He shows numbers. It doesn’t get any realer!

It’s no coincidence that my friend recommended this book to me. I’ve been experimenting with ways to be more effective and use my time more efficiently, and it’s already changing the way I work. It made me realize how I’ve unconsciously been giving away my time and tampering with my own productivity during moments of intense focus. Maybe you’ll relate to them. I’ve summed them up and made a list of the 4 most common ways we waste our time.

On being effective vs. being efficient

Being effective is knowing how to do the things that bring you closer to your goals. Being efficient is performing tasks in the most economical (from both money and time perspective) way. You can be efficient without being effective. That’s the trap most of us tend to fall into. We do things and we do them well just for the sake of staying busy (which is really just a way to avoid doing things we should be doing).

For example, an employee might invent stuff to fill those 8 hours in the office when that won’t help them advance in their career. I’ve been there. I’d take more bathroom or water breaks and go on short walks more often instead of watching a tutorial on how to edit videos with Premiere Pro. Or I’d spend more time organizing my desk when it wasn’t necessary. I was efficient, but not effective. In the example Tim used, same goes for the person who “checks e-mail 30 times a day and develops an elaborate system of folder rules and sophistication techniques for ensuring that each of those 30 brain farts moves as quickly as possible. As Tim says,

It’s good to be efficient at something, but it doesn’t add value if it doesn’t move you closer to your dreams. Being efficient with regard to effectiveness is the key! Of course it’s easier said than done, but it begins with identifying your goals and figuring out the most efficient ways to spend your time. And this involves eliminating unnecessary distractions.

Related: 4 Ways to Accomplish Your Goals in 2017

How to Maximize Your Time and Be More Productive

Time wasters 

Those things that can be ignored with little or no consequence. These include:

Constantly checking e-mail

We all do it. While we wait on a bus or train or use the computer to write a blog post. We try to distract ourselves with our inbox. Two things are always true: 1. They never stop coming and 2. They pressure us into opening them and add to our to-do list. With emails, it’s hard to distinguish tasks that are not urgent or important from tasks that are important but not urgent. A common scenario is having a to-do list and then forgetting what you had to do because an email came up. We not only waste time entertaining all of them, but also become less effective by doing things that could really be ignored.

Mindlessly surfing the web

When you do anything on the computer, the temptation to open a new window and do something else is strong. You decide to take a quick 5-minute break and go on Facebook to watch a video then find yourself watching a bunch because one automatically plays after the other. Or you get the notification that an old friend liked your picture and in no time, you’re on this person’s profile going down memory lane.

Answering phone calls or text messages

You hear your phone ring and you immediately stop what you’re doing to attend to it. Nothing makes you lose focus faster. More often than not, these can wait and it’s not worth interrupting what you’re doing.

Attending meetings that are unimportant

Meetings are the easiest ways to waste time. Back when I worked at a startup, I would go to our weekly Friday meeting just to avoid work and not do anything. The snacks were also great incentives. You can probably relate to having to attend meetings that will not help you do your job better in any way.

Another thing is going to meet someone to do work when it can be done remotely. For example, I once signed up for this job on Craigslist and the person suggested we met in person. I asked if we could have a Skype call instead and they agreed. It saved time and cost.

Consuming content with no useful application in your life

I used to delay the launch of my blog by reading articles on Medium. I had convinced myself that they were motivating me when really they were just a way to procrastinate. Sometimes, you have something important to accomplish and that’s when you should beware of what you consume and the people you surround yourself with. It’s trendy to be on top of celebrity news, but what real, practical value does it add if it’s not something that interests you? As Tim recommends, “cultivate selective ignorance” and read what will only help you take action.

10 minutes every hour of checking and responding to e-mail. 30 minutes of scrolling down social media feeds. 45 minute phone calls with your best friend. You may not realize it, but these unnecessary distractions add up. You could use these 2-3 hours for leisure once you successfully complete your most important tasks.

Like this post? Be on the lookout for the next one where I’ll share how to eliminate these distractions from The 4-Hour Workweek. Also, get my FREE time management guide here.

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How to Include Your Side Hustles On Your Resume

If you have a side hustle, you know how fulfilling it is to work on it. You get to express your creativity, refresh your skill set and even make additional income. What a lot of people fail to realize is that, a side hustle is a job in itself. Only difference is that the work is usually done by a team of one.

If you’re a blogger, you’re pretty much doing the same thing as an online magazine or digital media company. Same for a freelance photographer or videographer as an agency. You’ll find very little difference between what an individual with a side hustle does and the work of an institution with more resources. I’d even argue that a freelancer does more work because they wear many different hats until they can afford to hire people. Any side hustler is in fact their own CEO, COO, CFO, photographer, editor, public relations, marketing director etc. Given the reality of it, having it on your resume is a strategic move.

Listing your side hustles as freelance positions

MYTH: My side projects don’t count as experience.

Did you acquire skills that are relevant to the position you’re applying to from your side gigs? Then they’re important! Think of them as a regular jobs and write the description accordingly. Just like you would for your professional experience, mention your accomplishments, the people you worked with and throw in some numbers when possible. That’s it!

To better illustrate this idea, I will share a few examples based on the most common side hustles:

Blogging

Company: Blog Name

Role: Founder & Editor-in-Chief

Key points to highlight:

  1. Research, produce, edit and optimize content for the website including case studies, success stories and newsletters
  2. Maintain brand voice on all social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  3. Work with a small team of contributors to create an editorial calendar
  4. Pitch local publications to secure guest posting opportunities
  5. Secure sponsorship deals and brand partnerships through engaging content

Main takeaways: You know how to do the work the company splits across different teams and you have a well-rounded skill set.

Photography

Company: Business name

Role: Freelance Photographer

Key points to highlight:

  1. Responsible for all aspects of production: scouting locations, researching/booking models, compose shots, capture subjects, edit and retouch images
  2. Market services to local businesses or small publications to foster brand partnerships
  3. Regularly cover events like XYZ

Main takeaways: You won’t need to be trained on most editing softwares since you’re already familiar with them. You’re not afraid to put yourself out there.

Tutoring

If your goal is to become a teacher or instructor, you can’t forget these 23 students you helped get better at math. Here’s how to list your experience:

Company: Business name

Role: (Insert any subject here) Tutor

Key points to highlight:

  1. Customize lesson plans and teach in either one-on-one or small group settings
  2. Collaborate with other teachers to prepare standardized tests to track students’ progress
  3. Grade quizzes and exams and provide feedback
  4. Observe and understand students’ behavior and communicate with school, parents and other stakeholders
  5. Develop professional skills by attending meetings, seminars, conferences etc.

Main takeaways: You are pretty much a teacher and we need to hire you asap!

Selling on Amazon

Company: Business name

Role: Account Manager

Key points to highlight:

  1. Manage inventory and sell a range of merchandise to existing costumers and prospects
  2. Promote services on different channels (social media media marketing, Google AdWords etc.)
  3. Ensure the correct products are delivered to customers in a timely fashion
  4. Develop trust relationships with costumers by resolving any issues they face
  5. Effect changes in products, service, and policy by evaluating customer feedback, results and competitive developments.
  6. Monitor competitors by collecting information on pricing, products, sales techniques etc.

Main takeaways: You’re entrepreneurially minded and you can roll with the punches.

Tips on writing the job description

a. Provide just enough details so to leave the opportunity to chat more

b. Model it after the description of the job you’re applying to

c. Put special emphasis on the skills (technical, hard or soft) you developed

Conclusion

Any side hustle can be branded as professional experience. Nothing teaches you more than an entrepreneurial venture so don’t be afraid to flaunt what you know.

Have your side hustles ever helped you get hired? Please share your experience with me in the comments!

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