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How to Overcome 190 Rejections and Change an Industry — Ben Mezrich

How do you make it big in a highly competitive industry?

It’s not easy. Ben Mezrich failed 190 times before he succeeded.

But today, Ben’s unconventional thinking has led to MASSIVE success.

Here’s what Ben is famous for…

  • Writing the book The Accidental Billionaire — which became The Social Network, one of the best movies of all-time
  • Being on Mark Zuckerberg’s shit list. Join the club, Ben!
  • Succeeding in the book and movie industries (where failure is the norm)

On the surface, Ben is an author… but his lessons go MUCH deeper.

From being on the verge of bankruptcy to changing how an entire generation of authors approach the writing and movie industry, Ben has been on one crazy ride.

Here are 3 of Ben’s BIGGEST lessons:

  1. Why Ben ONLY writes books if he can sell their movie rights first
  2. How Ben got rejected 190 times — and how to leverage rejection in your own biz
  3. How to decide if a book, business, or idea is worth following

And tons more.

1. What are you REALLY selling?

Here’s how most people think business works:

  1. Come up with an AMAZING idea
  2. Launch their idea
  3. Laugh all the way to the bank 💰


Most of the time, this is not how the world works.

Whether you want to be a famous author, 8-figure entrepreneur, or change the world another way, you have to understand how the world works.

To build a long-term career from writing, Ben knew he had to take a unique approach.

He decided to do something TOTALLY different. Something no one in the book industry had done before, which would cause him to stand out.

He decided he’d only writes books if he could sell the movie rights first.

I actually write a proposal I sell it as a movie and then I sell it as a book. The book is I.P for whatever comes next.

Ben isn’t really in the business of selling books: He’s actually in the business of selling stories.

Instead of focusing on making the Amazon bestseller list, Ben focuses on selling stories that be put on the bigscreen.

BONUS: 7 steps to write a bestselling book

What are YOU really selling in your business?

For example…

  • My company Sumo doesn’t just sell marketing tools. We sell a way for you to grow your business to 7-figures — and beyond — using marketing.
  • My friend Aubrey Marcus doesn’t just sell health supplements. He sells a way to be happier with the way you look and feel
  • My videos aren’t just selling ways to start a business. I’m selling how to create a business you love, which inspires you every day, and allows you to make lots of money

Take a look at your business and figure out exactly what you’re selling.

2. We ALL get rejected — and I still do!

Life isn’t as easy as people portray on Facebook, TV shows, or Instagram.


A post shared by Noah Kagan (@noahkagan) on

My mountain biking photo may look cool… but do you know how f’in long it took to achieve?!

I’ve spent YEARS mountain biking. I’ve fell down again and again. And I still think I can get tons better (you’re seeing me resting, ha!)

At times, your business or idea is going to be a struggle too. Rejection and temporary defeat is something you have to learn to overcome.

This is true of any “famous” person you might see.

Ben experienced failure, too.

In his first year of writing, Ben received 190 rejection slips.

Every time, he tweaked his approach slightly. And he kept persisting.

He used those rejections as motivation. He even plastered each slip over his office wall as a reminder to keep working and improving his craft.

To deal with rejection, you need to really love what you’re doing.

To bounce back from rejection, you have to accept EVERYONE fails.

Me, you, Ben Mezrich… everyone. (It still happens to me daily, too.)

Here’s how Ben viewed his 190 rejection letters:

I know my audience and those are the people that I write for. I don’t write for critics at the New York Times.

In your own business, how can you stay hungry, persistent, and focused on your market?

For example, I know Noah Kagan Presents listeners are usually…

  • 25-to-60 year-old males
  • Super smart and good looking 🤓
  • Want to start a business — or have started a business and are looking to grow

Understand rejection happens. Keep focusing on your ideal target market, make your content and material great, and promote the heck out of it.

3. Is your idea worth pursuing?

My old boss once told me AppSumo would NEVER work.

I did it anyway. Here’s why:

  1. I like free stuff 🤑
  2. I want to share cool things with people

And today, we’re an 8-figure business. Take that, old boss.

To come up with a product idea, book idea, or business idea, scratch your own itch.

Passion gets a bad wrap, but I think there is some value in it. You NEED to care about what you’re doing at least a little to push through the hard times.

Once you find your itch, ask yourself two questions before you commit:

  1. Is the story exciting?
  2. Is my angle unique?

1. Is the story exciting?

All the best books have a one sentence hook.

For example, here’s how you can pitch three of Ben’s bestselling books:

  1. Six MIT kids won millions from Vegas
  2. An unlikeable entrepreneur started one of the world’s biggest companies from his dorm room
  3. The real life Jurassic Park story of bringing the woolly mammoth back to life to save our planet

But creating a one-sentence hook isn’t just for authors.

If you’re trying to start a business, your one-sentence hook is a critical part of creating a business.

How would you define your one-sentence hook?

  • AppSumo: Grow your business to the next level for a fraction of the cost
  • Sumo: Get the same marketing tools we use to grow a $1,000,000+ business
  • What’s yours?

When your story connects with someone, you get results like this…

7 tips from a bestselling author: How to write a bestselling book

2. Is my angle unique?

When Ben writes a book, he wants to be the ONLY person writing the story.

In other words, he wants to grab the compelling stories other people have missed.

In business, you need to find an angle that makes your idea unique.

Back in the day, I used to run a company called Gambit. Not many people knew about it… but we were raking it in.

Gambit focused on social games payment during the peak Facebook games years — and during its height, we were doing $135,000 in daily revenue (before we got banned…).

Frankly, our business kinda sucked. We were basic AF, it wasn’t always fun… but our unique angle was pricing.

To make us stand out, I used to break down the costs of using Gambit compared to the costs of using a competitor. I showed it to every prospect.

Gambit results

Our unique angle helped us massively grow. You can do it, too.

Here’s a recap of the three main lessons you can learn from Ben:

  1. Understand what you’re actually selling customers (hint: It’s not your product)
  2. Handle rejection with persistence and adjustments as needed
  3. Understand if your idea is worth doing

But that’s not all.

Want more lessons from the brains behind The Social Network and more?

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2 responses to “How to Overcome 190 Rejections and Change an Industry — Ben Mezrich”

August 16, 2017 at 4:56 am

Kk, did the “coffee challenge” a few days ago. I was turned down, but at *that * moment I realized something cool. Rejection is a fact of life, and this wasn’t too painful. (no discount, so what!).
Keep going, I enjoy your podcasts and look forward to this one!

August 15, 2017 at 11:46 am

These podcast recaps are the best I’ve ever read. Great work, Noah.

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