Mrinal Desai knows what it feels like to be rejected. Before he became the co-founder and CEO of address book app Addappt--whose name is infused with the spirit of resilience--he was turned away more than he was welcomed.

As he wrote on a recent Quora thread, his application for a student visa to the U.S. was rejected twice. Once he'd made it to the States from India, he was unemployed for three years after the dot-com bust and became increasingly familiar with getting turned down for jobs

In a way, this period of constant rejection was good for him, he says, because it toughened him up. "One of the best outcomes of it for me personally was getting very, very comfortable with being ignored, hearing a no, or, as some like to phrase it, being rejected," he writes. "If you have never experienced this, I would highly recommend practicing and seeking it out."  

As Desai got more comfortable being rejected, he learned to push through it. He says when he first approached LinkedIn for a job, in 2003, he got a polite no, because the company wasn't hiring business people at the time. But he didn't let that stop him. "I stayed in touch for over a year," he writes, "and eventually went to work there as their first business development manager, in 2004, when they had about 15 to 20 employees."

"Very often, it is the fear of rejection that stops us from trying," Desai writes. "You can always try and fail, but [you should] never fail to try."    

Here are some of Desai's tips for overcoming rejection, published with his permission and edited for clarity:

  1. Always, always keep moving--to the next alternative job, investor, date, etc. You might be wrong, but not moving is definitely wrong. Nothing happens until you do something.
  2. Never accept no. The only one who can stop you in your tracks is you. Henry Ford said, "Whether you can or can't, you are right."
  3. Realize that it is not about you. Put on some blinders, and stay focused on the goal.
  4. Often (like in the case of my three-year unemployment), you are looking for only one yes, so keep going, because it is a matter of time.
  5. People are busier than ever now, and you are not their priority.
  6. Almost nothing valuable is easy, and if it is coming easily, you are not pushing the envelope. The value will be fleeting. Read about hedonistic adaptation--the harder the struggle, the longer it will take to reach "equilibrium" and become blasé about your last achievement.
  7. Everything can be practiced. Do more, and work toward more no's. I would recommend you integrate a feedback measure to make the practice meaningful and to improve on each initiative.
  8. Be optimistic. If anything, no is an indicator that you are onto something and others don't get it, at least not yet.
  9. Remember that you are not the only one getting rejected. You are in the good company of people such as Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, and J.K. Rowling, to name a few.
Published on: May 8, 2014