What Brian Acton Can Teach Us About Rejection

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What Brian Acton Can Teach Us About Rejection

| How Brian Acton of WhatsApp turned rejection into $19 billion |

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard the news about WhatsApp being acquired by Facebook for $19 billion. If you’ve been living under a rock, WhatsApp is a cross platform mobile messaging app. You can send text, video, images, and audio over the network. WhatsApp was launched by Brian Acton about a year after he was rejected for jobs at both Twitter and Facebook. Fast forward 5 years later and Brian Acton’s WhatsApp is acquired by the same company who rejected him, Facebook, for $19 billion. That breaks down to around “$4 billion in cash, $12 billion in Facebook shares, and $3 billion in RSUs for employee rentention.” [via TechCrunch]

But I’m not here to talk to you about numbers…although a billion $4 billion in cash beats nothing ANY DAY! I’m here to talk about the process that led up to this amazing new story in tech history. Brian Acton is an example of why we shouldn’t take rejection so seriously and how we as entrepreneurs can adopt his optimistic point of view.

Brian Acton Tweets rejection from Facebook

5 Things We Can Learn From Brian Acton’s Optimism

1. Remain optimistic even in the face of adversity or loss. I don’t know about you, but when I received rejection emails from companies I really wanted to work for, it took me hours to get over it. I would toil and toil and toil about what I did wrong, why that company sucked any ways, and why it wasn’t meant for me to work there. We seem to gravitate toward negativity like a magnet, but if we would stop ourselves from our pessimistic thoughts, we’d soon learn that we free up mental space to focus our attention on things that really matter…like world domination or remembering 100 decimal places for pi.

2. Just keep working, despite what others may think. I want to believe that even after receiving rejection from both Facebook and Twitter, that Brian continued to work on WhatsApp. I’ve met too many people who would be rejected by something totally unrelated and would just give up on their projects, goals, and dreams because of it. Post rejection, let working be a tool for release and meditation. For me, whenever I get sad or my thoughts are all over the place, I find comfort in just creating. People will knock you down for your dreams and ambitions, but don’t let them knock you down so far that you just give up on them. Who knows in a few years, you’ll be receiving a big check from a former naysayer.

3. Take nothing personal. Let me tell you how hard it was to learn this lesson. Our egos will have us believe that everyone is out to get us. We walk around taking things personal because we force ourselves to believe that the reason why someone doesn’t like us is because of who we are, I’m here to tell you that 1. it’s not about you and 2. move on.

4. Do great work. Period. So what. You got rejected from that job, by that person, or from your peers. So? Just continue doing your best and working on building yourself and accomplishing your goals. If they don’t like it and won’t give you an opportunity, then create your own! Eventually, you’ll get to a point where you’re so focused and productive that you won’t even be attuned to rejection.

5. Just be patient. This is something we can all learn. Before Facebook acquired WhatsApp, it had been operating for 5 years with over 450 million monthly active users world wide and over 320 million daily active users. Where would WhatsApp have been had the team given up too early. Greatness takes time, we just have to be patient about it.

Brian Acton is my new hero…and I don’t even know him. He’s already taught me a lot about being an entrepreneur and what it’s going to take to excel. Entrepreneurship means undergoing constant rejection and continuing to work anyway.

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