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How Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos Handled Rejection

3 min read • Sep 20, 2018 • Andrew Mosteller

Rejection. If you’ve ever asked someone on a date, you know what this word means. If you’ve asked someone on a date and don’t know what the word means, congrats on marrying your high school sweetheart.

It’s possible that there’s just as much rejection in small business as there is in dating. And that’s saying something. Investors reject propositions, customers reject new flavors and products, and employees sometimes reject your leadership style. It can be rough seas out there, so here’s a few tips and words of inspiration to put wind in your sails:

Steve Jobs survived being rejected from his own company.

Jobs was fired from Apple in 1985. As many now know, he had quite a tenacious and unwavering personality that could put people off. The board of directors at Apple took note of this and fired Jobs from the company he founded.

Of this experience, he said: “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

Jobs’ words touch on one of the fundamental ways to deal with rejection—seeing it as an opportunity for growth rather than a speed bump. We tend to get so focused on the path we’re on that we forget to stop and consider where that road is taking us. Rejection kind of forces a moment of self-reflection. It allows us to sit back, and think about our plans and progress.

Jeff Bezos endured 60 meetings to get startup funding for Amazon.

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, said this of his experience in trying to start Amazon, “I had to take 60 meetings to raise $1 million, and I raised it from 22 people at approximately $50,000 a person.” He continues, “it was nip and tuck whether I was going to be able to raise that money. So, the whole thing could have ended before the whole thing started. That was 1995, and the first question every investor asked me was: ‘What’s the internet?’”

This story shows us the importance of knowing where our rejectors are coming from. If, like in the story, they don’t know about the internet, then sponsoring a company whose sole purpose is to make money on the internet would seem like a silly idea.

Rejection makes us think about our message. Not only what we’re saying, but how that message is being received. Are we just not explaining things correctly? Or, is there some fundamental flaw in our ideas? Being able to find answers to these questions is crucial. Nothing is worse than getting embroiled in the middle of a company with a fundamental flaw at its core.

Rejection helps us jump out of bad planes before they take off. It also helps us tweak our ideas to be more understandable and feasible in the minds of potential investors.

Failure is part of success – so just embrace it.

To close, here are some words from Denis Waitley, the best-selling author of the audio series, The Psychology of Winning. “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing and being nothing.”


Andrew Mosteller

Andrew Mosteller is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Lendio News. His upbringing in an entrepreneurial family nurtured a passion for small business at a young age. Andrew's father, an equity fund manager, taught him the ins and outs of investment financing. Now, Andrew spends his time writing copy for business owners, helping them expand and advertise their unique brands. He's also studying Strategic Communications at the University of Utah. When Andrew's fingers aren't glued to the keyboard, he spends his time reading, podcasting, composing music, and bombing down the ski slopes.