Thoughts on “7 Rejections”

Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky recently shared his “7 rejections” story about rejection emails he received from investors during the early days of Airbnb in 2008. At the end of his post, he asked us to think of those emails next time we got rejected. Since I had already received rejections from investors — hundreds of them — I had plenty to start thinking about.

Previously, I hadn’t thought much about rejection emails. You get used to them after a while, and you tend to forget about them quickly, because there are so many other things you need to worry about, the most important of which is finding the next investor who will believe in you and help you take your company to the next level.

But Brian gave me something to think about. He had built Airbnb into a $20 billion company in 7 years, and his 7 rejection emails were a symbol of the odds working against him in the beginning. Out of all Airbnb’s struggles, those rejection emails were the struggles he chose to showcase, so they must have had a profound meaning to him as he was reflecting on his journey.

I am today where Brian was 7 years ago when he received those emails, still at the beginning of that journey. Below are 7 rejections I received in the last few months, and even though not much has happened since to give me something to reflect on, when I think of these emails in the context of Brian’s story, I think of them as perhaps being a blueprint for my own success.

This made me think whether I should set a new goal of $20 billion in 7 years. A few months ago, before Brian’s story, I wrote down a personal goal of $1 million in the next year. At the time, it seemed ambitious enough. But after Brian’s story, it made me question whether my $1 million goal was too modest.

I’m close to reaching my $1 million goal, but I already feel comfortable increasing the goal to $10 million in a year, just from thinking about Brian’s story.

Brian’s story is a reminder that anything is possible, and you’ll achieve any goal you set for yourself, even though on many days you’ll feel like success is a world away. The world has its own way of letting you know that you are doing the right thing. The laws of attraction work when you spend time thinking about your goals and going after them. When I went after my goals by approaching investors relentlessly, the world found a way to tell me Brian’s story of rejection, which helped me set a higher goal for myself and nudge me a step forward in my career.

I’ve realized that I’m probably closer than I thought to getting the right investor, which means I’m certainly closer than I ever was to building a $20 billion company in 7 years like Brian did. If I can make that happen, maybe I’ll write a second part to this story.


Thank you to Jessica Anderson, Tarek Kandil and Walid Sahawneh for reading drafts of this.

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