Welcome to another episode of Live Your Dream podcast!
You are listening to the 48th episode of my podcast, and I hope you will help me celebrate my upcoming 50th episode.
For my 50th episode, I’m thinking of doing a Ask Me Anything episode, where you are invited to ask me any questions about me, my podcast, coaching or anything you want to ask, and I will answer your questions during the episode.
I’d also love for you to share what you have learned, or what your biggest takeaways were from my episodes, or what loved about my podcast. And that would totally make my day!
So please send me your questions, lessons learned, or anything you want to share with me about my podcast, and help me celebrate my 50th episode.
You can send me a message on my website, celinalee.co/contact, that is celinalee.co/contact, or just open up your podcast app and click on today’s show notes and there will be a link for you to send me a message.
And thank you to those of you who joined me in my Clubhouse room last Saturday. It was really fun talking to Chef Hooni Kim, and I loved being able to talk to you and answer your questions live.
So I’m actually going to have another Clubhouse room at the same time, this Saturday, March 6th at 9pm Eastern Time.
For those of you who are wondering, what is Clubhouse? It’s this new audio app and I’ve recently joined and would love to talk to you there. My ID is @celinalee, that is @celinalee and if you follow me, you will be the first to know when I host rooms.
And if you want an invitation to the clubhouse, I have a few invites and I’d be happy to invite you.
This Saturday I’ll be talking about how to overcome rejections which is the topic for todays’ episode.
So many of us struggle with dealing with rejections, and I know this because my episode from the last season, “How to Turn No into Yes” is one of the most popular episodes ever on my podcast.
In fact, it is the most popular solo episode I’ve done, and I’m re-sharing the episode with you today in case you haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet.
In this episode I talked about all about the rejections I got while writing my book.
As some of you may know, I wrote and published a book in Korea several years ago. I wrote this book after interviewing successful people from diverse industries, about how they overcame failures and obstacles, and achieved their dreams.
I got more rejections trying to write this book than I’d ever been until that point in my life and I shared that story in this episode, and it was so popular, I think maybe because hearing my rejection stories may have helped people feel better about themselves and the rejections they got.
I got so many messages and reviews from my listeners about how much they loved this episode and how helpful it was to them.
For example this review was written by,
Esminion who wrote
Keep fighting for what you believe in…
Loved the last podcast where Celina shares about her journey and challenges to bring this book to life. Success doesn’t come without failures and challenges. Usually the yes doesn’t come without the no’s…
The rejection just means that you still have more work to do for the world to finally see what you believe in… if you believe in your dream, you keep asking, you stay resilient, you keep trying to achieve them. Thanks for continuing to inspire, Celina!
Wow! Thank you so much for this amazing review! I’m so grateful and happy to hear my story resonate with you.
If you enjoy listening to my podcast, or if it helped you in anyway, I’d be so grateful if you can please tell your friends about it and also share on social media.
Another way you can help me is by writing me a review. I love reading your reviews and it means so much to me. And it totally makes my day. And it keeps me motivated to keep creating new episodes even on days when it’s really hard to do so.
So the fact that this episode was so popular made me think that dealing with rejections is so difficult for so many of us, but learning how to overcome rejections is so crucial for our success and happiness.
So I am sharing this episode again, in case you haven’t had a chance to listen yet, and after you listen, I hope you will come join me on Clubhouse this Saturday March 6th at 9pm Eastern Time, and we can talk all about how we can learn to overcome the fear of rejections.
It will be very interactive so bring your questions, and I look forward to talking to you this Saturday.
I’ll include all the details in the show notes for today’s episode, and you can check it out by opening up your podcast app and clicking on today’s show notes.
Okay, today I want to talk to you about how to convince and persuade people and how to turn a no into a yes. In my previous episodes, I’ve talked about my experience of writing my book, which was my very first childhood dream.
Writing my book was one of the most difficult and challenging experiences of my life, but also definitely one of the most rewarding and meaningful experiences. There were many, many challenges.
As many of you know, I wrote my book in Korean even though my only education in Korea was elementary school. My mom thought I was absolutely crazy. And I’ve talked about this in my previous episode.
I also had to find a publisher in Korea but had no idea how the publishing industry even worked there. And my mom thought who’s going to publish your book?
And in my previous episode, I also talked about how I reached out to and ended up meeting a very famous writer from Korea. And I told her about my book idea, even though I was very nervous and very scared. And she introduced me to her publisher, so my book ended up getting published by one of the best publishers in the country.
I’ve learned that when you believe in your dream and take action to make it happen, even though you have fears and doubts, magical things happen, stars align and you will make your dream a reality.
I’ll link the previous episodes in the show notes for today’s episode, if you want to hear about more about these stories in detail.
Another big challenge, probably the most difficult part of writing my book was that I had to convince very successful and therefore very busy people to meet with me, and give me a chance to interview them.
The first thing I did when I decided to write my book was I created a list of people I wanted to interview, kind of like, if you’re applying for college, you think about, “If I can get in anywhere, I would go to these schools.” So I thought about if I could interview anyone, these are the people I would love to interview.
I had a few criteria for selecting people to be in my book. First, I wanted to have people from different backgrounds, very diverse experiences and professions. Second, I wanted them to have inspirational stories of overcoming failures, rejections and obstacles to have achieved amazing success.
And I also wanted them to be honest and be willing to talk openly about their struggles. So after I created my dream list of the people I wanted to interview, I started reaching out to them.
Well, creating the list was the easy part. But getting the people to say yes to me, or even just give me any response was definitely not easy. I got more rejections trying to write my book than I’d ever been until that point in my life.
These people were very successful and very famous in their industries, and honestly didn’t have really anything to gain from being in my book. Because many of them had a lot of people reaching out to them for interviews, including really big media and press.
And here I was an aspiring writer, but I was not a writer yet, right? Because I hadn’t written the book yet. And also, I was asking them to share with me very intimate details of their lives, including all of their failures and struggles and obstacles.
And I was telling them, I was going to write the book in Korean and a lot of them didn’t really speak or read Korean well, so they wouldn’t even know what I was going to say, or how I was going to convey their story.
So it was a big ask, I’m not sure if I would have said yes. If someone who I don’t know who has never written a book, or has done any kind of writing for that matter is saying, “Hey, I’m going to write this book, but I’m going to write it in French, and you’re going to have no idea what I’m going to write about you. But I’m going to share with the world all of your failures and struggles and obstacles. Yeah, so can you give me a chance to interview?”
I’m not sure I would say yes to that. So I definitely know that it was not an easy thing for me to convince them to say yes, and give me a chance to interview them. So I want to share with you stories about how I convinced them to give me a chance to interview them for my book. And I’ll talk about two people that I had the most difficult time getting an interview with and how I convinced them to say yes to me.
The first person I want to talk about is former Washington State Senator Paull Shin. He has an incredible story. He was born in Korea and became an orphan around the age of four years old. And he was literally begging for food on the street.
And when he was 16 years old, he started working for a group of US Army officers because it was during the Korean War. And when he was 18, he got adopted by an American GI and moved to the United States. He has never gone to school in Korea, because he lived on the street. So no school would take him in the US. So he got his GED, and then went to college and became a professor.
And then he entered into politics after facing so much racial discrimination. And he became a state senator for Washington State and served for 15 years. What an incredibly inspiring life, right? I’ve heard of his story before. And I just knew that I had to have him in my book. I had to interview him.
And I knew that it was going to be very difficult. I emailed him and called his office for months and months and no response. And I had a hunch that he probably is not going to answer his own phone calls or answer his own emails. And I was expecting his assistance to at least give me any response, but I had heard absolutely no response.
So I was thinking, okay, how can I make this happen? And I had remembered that one of my friends for one of his nonprofit organizations that he was involved with had invited him to speak at one of their events. So I reached out to him asked him about how I could possibly get in touch with Senator shin. And he said that he wasn’t the person who was in touch with Senator Shin.
And he suggested that I reached out to one of our mutual friends Sunmin, since he lives in Washington State, and is in the same state with Senator Shin, and maybe he knows a way to get in touch with them.
So I did reach out to Sunmin, and told him that I was trying to write this book. And if he knows any way that I could meet Paull Shin, and he said, “Oh you know what? I’m actually helping to organize this conference in Utah for this organization called a Korean American Scientists and Engineers Association. And Senator Shin is one of the speakers.”
I was like, “Oh my gosh!” And he asked me if I would be interested in coming. I was like, “Yes, of course!” And I checked to make sure that I was able to get some time off from work. I was so excited.
And Sunmin said that they needed someone to be an emcee for the conference. And since I had an experience hosting a talk show for Korean American broadcasting and television, maybe I could be the emcee. And he helped me to get in touch with the conference organizers. And they had me come out as the emcee for the program. So I would have a chance to meet with Senator Shin.
The people who were there actually have no idea that this is the behind story of why I was there. But that’s what happened. And Sunmin also said that he would volunteer to go pick up Senator Shin at the airport, and I could come with them. And that way he’ll be stuck in the car with me for 45 minutes. And he’d have to talk to me. Well, we didn’t have to do that. Because as soon as he met me, he said, yes, but I remember being so excited.
And before I went to Utah, I didn’t know if Senator Shin was going to say yes to me, and give me a chance to interview him for my book. But just in case, he would say yes to me, and just in case, he would have a time for interview while we’re both out there. I prepared for the interviews as if he was going to say yes.
So of course, he doesn’t know who I am. He doesn’t even know I exist. He doesn’t know that I’m going to be asking for an interview. But I had prepared just in case I would get a chance to have an interview with him.
It actually takes a lot of time to prepare for a good interview. And what I usually do to prep for any interviews, for the podcast, and for the book is I would read everything and anything that I could find on the internet, any other interviews they’ve done in the past, podcast interviews, any books they’ve written.
Because if I just ask questions that they already talked about, that’s not fun. Other people can go to other interviews, and read that or listen to that. But I really wanted to ask some questions that have not been asked before. And also as an interviewee, it is very obvious when the interviewer has done her homework.
So in the very little time that I had, I read anything and everything I could about Paull Shin, prepared these very detailed interviews, printed them out, I brought my two recorders, one, my recorder, and then the other one as a backup. And then off I went.
And when I flew out to Utah, and I saw him standing right in front of me, I just couldn’t believe it. And even though I was very nervous, I walked up to him, and I introduced myself and I asked him if I could interview him. And he said, “Sure!” I was like, just like that? So easy! I didn’t tell him but I had been reaching out to him for months and never heard back.
And then I asked him “When would be a good time for us to do the interview? And he said, “We could do it right now.” So we talked for like four and a half hours. And I wrote my book.
And the funny thing is right after I finished interviewing him, I checked my email and his assistant finally got back to me and I was like, Are you serious? So anyway, if you just show up and just ask people in person, you’ll have a lot higher chance of getting a yes than if you are just emailing them or calling them. Even if people say no or doesn’t respond to you, you can figure out other ways to reach out to them.
Another person that was very difficult to interview was Howard Koh, who I’ve talked about in my previous episode. Howard Koh is a former US Assistant Secretary of Health during the Obama administration, and is now a professor at Harvard School of Public Health and also at the Kennedy School.
I’m sure some of you may have heard of his family. It’s the really famous Koh family. His younger brother is Harold Koh, who teaches at Yale Law School. And he also served during the Obama administration as the Legal Advisor.
There are six siblings in the Koh family, and all six of them have studied at Harvard, Yale, and MIT. And all six of them have achieved incredible amount of success in all kinds of professions. So I wanted to know what was so special about their family upbringing. So I’ve read many of the books that his mother wrote about their parenting in Korean.
And I really wanted to interview Howard for my book, but I knew it would be really difficult because he works for the government. And I emailed him thinking that I will probably not get a response. And as I expected, I did not get any response.
And then I found out that he was going to be a keynote speaker at a charity gala that’s happening in New York City. And I had been volunteering there for the past several years, and I was going to be also volunteering at this particular event. So I knew we were going to be in the same space. So I should at least try to talk to him.
I reached out to the organizer of the gala to see if she can introduce me to him, but I did not get any response. So I was thinking about how can I make this happen. And on the day of the gala, I saw him coming in with his mother. And I recognized her because I had read many of her books, which she wrote in Korean.
But before I had any chance of approaching them, they were quickly brought to the VIP area, and I couldn’t go near them. And then I saw his mother was at the silent auction area. And she was just walking around and browsing. So I went up to her and said, hi, and introduced myself.
And I told her that I really enjoyed reading her books. And she was like, “Oh, which book did you read?” and we were talking for a while. And she asked me some questions about me and my background. And then I told her that I’m actually working on writing a book myself, and that I would love to interview her son, Howard. And then she said, “Oh, he’s very busy. But if you want to talk to him, you should talk to him now.” So she brought me to where he was. And then she introduced me to him.
And there were all these people around him waiting to talk to him, you know how it is at one of these events. And in front of everybody I had to give him this unprepared, like 30 second pitch about who I am and why I wanted to interview him for my book, and why he should give me a chance while everybody was staring at me.
And of course, it was very scary. And he really listened. And then he said, “You should get in touch with my assistant” who was standing right next to him. And I guess he doesn’t have business cards, or he doesn’t really give them out. And his assistant also didn’t give me a business card. And she said, “Give me your business card, and I will contact you.”
And I was like, okay, and the gala was about to start. So Howard had to go. But as he was leaving, he patted me on my shoulder and said, “I think you’re going to do well.” And I was like, wow, does that mean he’s going to say yes and give me a chance? But I had no idea. And because I didn’t have any way of contacting him or the assistant because they didn’t give me their contact information. I was just kind of waiting to see, if the assistant would write me.
And the next day, she did write me back. And she said, “Hey, let me know more information about your book.” And since then, for many, many weeks, there were I don’t even know, I can’t even count how many emails were exchanged back and forth. And they weren’t always very responsive. And so many times I had to send many, many emails and just say “hi, just following up about this” and then they would eventually respond.
And there were so many people copied on the email, I think all the people from the communications team, and they would ask questions like, “What’s the title of your book? Who’s the publisher? Who have you interviewed so far?”
And I was like, “I don’t have a title yet because it’s not written yet.” And I told them the name of my publisher and I think they went and researched it. I also had, by that time, lined up pretty impressive people to be in my book and had already interviewed them. So I guess they were okay with the list of people.
And then they said, “We have to now get security clearance.” And I was like, Okay. And then they said, “Okay, we did that.” Then they also said, “Send me all the questions you’re going to ask Howard.” And I’ve done a lot of interviews by then, but I’ve never been asked to send all the questions in advance. So I sent him all the questions.
And then they said, “Okay, tomorrow, we’re going to ask him if he wants to do the interview.” And I was like, what, you haven’t even asked him yet? And you made me go through all of this? So the next day, pretty early in the morning, they said, “Okay, Howard said he agrees to do the interview. He’d love to do it.”
So when the interview got confirmed, I think I was more happy than when my book got published. Howard was the last interview. And when all the interviews were confirmed, and all the interviews were done, I felt like more than half of my book was written, even though I’ve only written a few chapters by then, because it’s up to me to write, but I can’t make these people agree to be interviewed by me, unless they want to.
So I felt like the hardest part of my book was done. So I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I was when I booked my train to go to DC. And they also said, “You have to fill out this meeting request form.” I mean, it was not an easy process to interview, Howard. But it was such a memorable experience on how it is possible to get people to say yes to you, and turn no into a yes.
And the actual interview was really, really great. And he was so kind, so generous, so nice. And during the interview, there was someone from the communications team, I think she was the head of communications, present. She was there during the interview, and observed what we were talking about. And I’ve actually never had that before. So that was an experience.
And he told me all these amazing stories about his life. Howard said, “My mother really liked you.” And he said, “You should go meet her.” So I was so happy to hear that. And I went to go meet his mother, and also interviewed her as part of Howard’s profile for my book. And it really was amazing to learn about her parenting style, and what was so special about their family and how she was able to raise her children to become so successful in all kinds of different industries.
When I was writing my book, I did my best to interview people around them. Because oftentimes, when I interview people around them, whether that’s family or colleagues or friends, I would get more of a holistic, like a bigger picture of that person and his or her life. So I was able to do that.
And his mother is so wonderful, so kind, and very warm. And she also ended up inviting me to speak at one of her really big events she organized, so I felt very honored. So I feel like I developed these really amazing relationships with them, because I just showed up, right?
And all the people that I interviewed for my book, they became the greatest supporters of my vision, and especially when I launched my community Give One Dream, they were all very supportive and very kind. And I was really, really grateful and thankful to them.
And, after I became really close to them, I asked them, “I know you’re very busy. And why did you say yes to me? Why did you give me a chance to interview you?” And a lot of them said, “I knew that you were never going to go away.” So I guess, persistence goes a long way.
And one thing that I learned from these experiences is that if you just show up and talk to people, your chances of getting a yes is significantly higher. I mean, when I was emailing and calling these people, I would just not get any response. But then when I just showed up and talked to them, I was so shocked that how easily they said yes to me. I mean, in Howard’s case, not so easy.
But if you have someone that you want to meet, just show up at events, maybe they’ll be there and I know it’s very scary, but just go talk to them. You’ll be very surprised how many yeses you will get.
And also what I’ve learned is that when people say no to you, or they don’t respond, it doesn’t usually mean no, never but no, not right now. And we take these no’s so personally that we don’t try again the next time. And we’ll never get it because we’re not trying again, right?
So don’t let any no or one or two or three no’s stop you from pursuing what you want to do. I mean, frankly, if I had given up after the first, the second or the third rejection, my book would have never been published, because almost everybody rejected me the first, the second and third time.
But, as they said, I was not going to go away. And I kept trying. And I kept thinking about all these creative ideas to convince them. And eventually, they all met with me not once but many times and became my greatest supporters. So for that, I will always be grateful.
And what I’ve learned from this experience is that when you really want to make something happen, you try one way. And if that doesn’t work, you don’t give up, you just think about another way. If that doesn’t work, then you think of another way, another way until you figure out a way that works.
And a lot of people ask me, “Did you ever want to quit?” But honestly, I never thought about quitting. The question wasn’t, “Can I make this happen?” But it was, “How can I make this happen?”
And frankly, I could have told myself, I tried enough, and it’s not going to work because I got rejected so many times. And yes, there were so many reasons why I could have stopped and given up and failed, but there was one reason why I was going to make it happen. And that’s all I needed.
Because it was my dream I wrote down when I was a child. It was a dream that I always had in my heart. And it was a dream that made me feel alive and so excited, just by thinking about the possibility of it becoming a reality.
How amazing would it be if there could be a book with my own name on it, right? That was my very first childhood dream. And that is the thing about dreams. They inspire you to go after the seemingly impossible and empower you to make them happen.
And I realized that when you’re doing something that you believe is meaningful, it will give you an incredible amount of strength, and power to overcome any obstacles and rejections and that is what I again, and again, saw is a difference between people who have achieved incredible amount of success and people who really didn’t.
And whether they are doing something that they believe is meaningful made all the difference, because, frankly, in whatever we do, there will come a point when you want to give up. It’s not fun to get rejected, and there will be obstacles and challenges coming your way.
But if you really, truly in your heart believe that what you’re doing is meaningful, you’re going to figure out a way to make it happen. And I really believe that it was a meaningful thing for me to write this book because I was going to interview these amazingly successful Korean Americans. And I would be the bridge to bring those stories to the audience in Korea, who otherwise wouldn’t really have a chance to listen to their stories and learn from them.
Because they are Korean Americans, a lot of them didn’t really speak Korean. So I would use my bilingual ability to bring these inspirational stories to the audiences in Korea and others Korean speaking readers in other countries.
I hope what I’ve shared with you today is helpful to you. And please remember that it is possible to turn a no into a yes. And please remember to not get discouraged by any rejection one or two or three or 10 rejections because what I’ve learned is that any rejections or failures you’re experiencing is the evidence, it is the proof that you are trying, and you’re challenging yourself, and you are getting one step closer to achieving your goals and dreams.
Because if I wasn’t trying to achieve my dream of writing my book, there would be no reason for me to be reaching out to these people and no reason for me to be rejected. So the fact that I was getting rejected was the proof, was the evidence that I was trying, challenging myself and getting one step closer to achieving my dreams, because the more you ask the higher chance of getting a yes.
But we take these No’s, so personally, and it stops us from trying again and taking the next action. And that is the real failure. Because if you don’t try, you’re never going to get anything.
And I have my coaching clients do these rejection challenges or another way is called resilience challenge, where I encourage them to go out and get as many rejections as possible.
And in the beginning, they’re a little bit hesitant and it really scares them. But the more they try, they learn that it actually gets easier. And they’re also very shocked at how many yeses they get. And I asked them, “Are you surprised that you got a yes? “And they’re like, “Yeah, I would have never asked and I cannot believe that they said yes to me.”
So it’s like building up a muscle. You can’t run a marathon tomorrow. But if you start training tomorrow, and run maybe five, five minutes and ten minutes, then maybe eventually you can run a marathon, right?
So if you train yourself to not take rejections so personally, one day, you’re going to be able to achieve really big scary dreams, and maybe make a career transition or whatever it is that you want to do.
So it is very, very important to learn how to reframe your rejections and know that real failure is just not trying. So you should actually be concerned if you haven’t gotten rejected in a very long time.
So I celebrate rejections with my clients. Every week, I have them go out and try to get as many rejections as possible. And then they come back to me and say, I’ve tried for this and that but never heard anything or got a No. “And I say “Yay! Way to go! Awesome! Keep it up!” I’m so proud of them!
You can do this with yourself. If you’re able to reframe rejection, as the evidence that you’re trying and challenging yourself, one day, you’re going to be able to achieve amazing big things. Just trust me. So if you have any stories on how you’ve convinced people and turn a no into a yes, I would love to hear from you. Please send me a message on my website, celinalee.co/contact that is celinalee.co/contact.
I hope what I’ve shared with you today is helpful. What I’ve learned over the years is that the number of rejections you get is correlated to the number of opportunities and the success you will achieve in your career. Because statistically, if you keep trying and don’t give up, you will get many more opportunities in life.
I hope you will join me in my Clubhouse room this Saturday March 6th at 9pm Eastern Time and we’ll continue talking about how to overcome rejections, and not let our emotions get in the way of achieving our goals, so we can live our dreams and thrive in our careers.
And feel free to invite a friend who may be interested in joining also.
I’ll share all the details in the show notes for today’s episode.
And please send me your questions, lessons learned, or anything you want to share with me about my podcast, and help me celebrate my 50th episode.
You can send me a message through my website and I’ll have the link on the show notes for today’s episode which you can see by opening up your podcast app and clicking on today’s show notes.
If you’re looking for guidance on how to find happiness and fulfillment in your career, I put together a guide to the three steps to finding true career fulfillment.
In this guide, I share the three common themes of the people who have achieved incredible amount of success and if you find what those three things are for you, I can guarantee you that you’ll not only have a successful career, but also a very fulfilling life. So if you want to check it out, you can download it by clicking on today’s show notes on your podcast app or on my website, celinalee.co that is is celinalee.co
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If you have questions about my one-on-one coaching, or have any thoughts or questions about my podcast, you can reach out to me on my website celinalee.co/contact,, that is celinalee.co/contact, or click on today’s show notes on your podcast app and that will take you to my website.
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