Think about the last time you were rejected. The last time you were told 'no.' The last time you worked hard on a project, prepared diligently, only to have circumstances out of your control ground the whole thing before it could even get airborne.
Sucked, didn't it?
I hate getting rejected. But I hate wallowing in rejection even more.
Every rejection is an opportunity. I firmly believe that. It just means you have to hustle more. (In fact, the motto of my company Jingle Punks is "Respect the Hustle.") You have to think on your feet. Remember that Pink Floyd lyric? "You gotta pick out the easy meat with your eyes closed."
In business, a clever reaction to adversity is called a pivot. A lot of people will call it a Plan B. Really, though, we're talking street smarts.
Let me tell you about a time I was rejected.
A few years ago, in the very early days of my company Jingle Punks, I tried to secure a deal with one of the largest cable networks in the U.S. to use our technology and music in the production of their shows. I was working as an editor on a show within their world. When the time came to add a soundtrack to the show, I knew Jingle Punks had the right interface, and the right music. I pitched my company. The network in question, in a knotted tangle of red tape, delays, and confusion, turned me down. It was corporate bureaucracy at its finest and it stung, but only for a moment.
Rejection. But did I accept my fate? No way. I took stock of my position... my advantages. I was already 'in,' working as an editor on many of their shows. Maybe I couldn't convince the brass to open their eyes to the advantages of my company, but I could convince those around me, the talented people with whom I worked, that Jingle Punks was the way to go.
So I taught the entire production staff about my product. And guess what? They loved it. They recognized its value. And so they rallied for it at the corporate level, eventually leading to a deal. This was a watershed moment for the company. It showed that some doors which may appear closed, well, only appear that way. There is always another way to the top.
Musicians know this.
You need only look at the world of rock 'n' roll to understand that anything is possible if you just start hacking away.
Barenaked Ladies are now one of the most well-known names in pop but when they started back in the late '80s, they set about attracting an audience by busking. By playing early favorites like "If I Had $1,000,000" on the streets of Toronto, they slowly built an audience, one fan at a time. And John Butler, of jam favorites John Butler Trio, still considers himself a busker. It's a good mentality to have -- never lose that fire and drive, even when you've achieved a victory or two.
The start-up mentality has been the key to the success of my company. We never stop hustling or busking... or whatever you call it. When people join my company I often tell them to check their entitlement at the door. Watch how we operate at conferences or in the board room. We meet anyone and everyone and never get too big for any meeting. All the best musicians and entrepreneurs that I respect continue to have a busking mentality well into their glory years. Sir Paul McCartney performs on the biggest stages on the planet but last year played London's tiny 100 Club to prove he's still got it.
No isn't no. To me, 'no' is just a challenge -- and an exciting one. All the world's a stage, wrote Shakespeare. If you don't succeed at first, find another way.
Don't take rejection lying down. React. Do something positive. Hack. Busk. And get results.
Jared Gutstadt is the co-founder and co-CEO of Jingle Punks, a global licensing and commercial music production company based in New York. Follow him at @jinglejared and follow Jingle Punks at @jinglepunks, and on Facebook.