The fascinating stories of successful people who triumphed over debilitating career rejection.
And the insights those rejections provide.

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The fascinating stories of successful people who triumphed over debilitating
career rejection.
And the insights those rejections provide.

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Season Three

Rejecting Airbnb

Airbnb is worth more than the world’s top three hotel chains combined, with over 150 million users spanning 200 countries. But before the company made its three founders the first-ever sharing economy billionaires, they were broke. Weathering rejections from investors and narrowly avoiding eviction.

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Rejecting Fritz Pollard

If you don’t recognize the name Fritz Pollard, you’re not alone. Pollard was the first Black player in the NFL, the first Black quarterback in the NFL and the first Black head coach of an NFL team. And yet, in 2020 – the NFL’s 100th birthday – the league referred to Pollard as “A Forgotten Man.”

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Rejecting Jesus Christ Superstar

Jesus Christ Superstar is one of the most successful musicals of all time, grossing over $230M worldwide. But before composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice launched their technicolour dream careers, the pair was told their proposal of a Christ-themed musical was “the worst idea in history.”

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Rejecting Mad Men, Part 2

In Part Two of Rejecting Mad Men, the series finds a home that can’t find financing. A struggling unknown actor named Jon Hamm auditions for the lead – and goes to the bottom of the list. Christina Hendricks’ agent drops her for accepting the pilot. And Matthew Weiner writes a whole new story.

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Rejecting Mad Men

According to Rolling Stone, Mad Men is the fourth-greatest television show of all time – bested only by Breaking Bad, The Wire and The Sopranos. But before Sterling Cooper ever opened its doors, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner was rejected by every major network. Including HBO, FX and Showtime.

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Rejecting Colonel Sanders

Kentucky Fried Chicken is the most popular chicken chain of all time, with 25,000 locations in 145 countries. But before the world tasted Colonel Sanders’ secret recipe of 11 different herbs and spices, the Colonel was broke. At 65. Driving around the South pitching his recipe to restaurant owners and weathering over 1000 rejections. Then he got some unbelievable news.

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Rejecting Jonathan Larson (Rent)

When Rent premiered in 1996, it became a runaway smash hit. The venue sold out for months on end. Lines stretched around the block. People pitched tents in order to secure rush tickets. Celebrities were photographed under the marquee. But, what many people didn’t know, was that over the previous 15 years, writer and composer Jonathan Larson faced nothing but rejection.

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Rejecting Chrissy Metz

Chrissy Metz is Kate Pearson. No, really. When the script for This Is Us crossed her desk, she couldn’t believe the similarities. Naturally, she was cast and the series became a runaway smash hit – catapulting Metz to stardom and an Emmy nomination. But before landing the role, Metz was an agent in Hollywood watching her clients land part after part while she struggled to make rent.

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Rejecting South Park

South Park was named one of Rolling Stone’s greatest TV shows of all time. The animated series earned four Emmys and a cult-following, catapulting its creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone to billionaire status. But rewind 25 years, South Park was rejected.

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Rejecting Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland made history as the first Black female principal dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. But along her incredible journey to the front of the stage, Copeland was told she had the wrong body for ballet. That she was too curvy, too short, too old, that her skin colour ruined the “aesthetic.”

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Rejecting Rocky Bleier, Part 2

In Part Two of Rejecting Rocky Bleier, Bleier visits his old coach at Notre Dame who gives him some upsetting news. The Steelers have a changing of the guard. And the team that drafted Bleier for his heart, gets to see it in action.

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Rejecting Hinge

The global online dating market is expected to reach $11B USD by 2028. With websites like Match.com and eHarmony and apps like Tinder and Hinge, today’s singles have the world at their fingertips. But back when Hinge was in its infancy, founder Justin McLeod was rejected by investors. Then users. Then the Apple app store. Then Vanity Fair magazine. Before becoming one of the leading dating apps in North America and the most-mentioned dating app in the New York Times wedding section.

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Rejecting Cyndi Lauper

Cyndi Lauper has sold over 50 million records worldwide. She’s a singer, songwriter and activist whose first album ’She’s So Unusual’ landed her on the list of top female debut artists of all time. But before landing a record deal, Lauper was ridiculed for her eclectic look and fired from bands time after time. Then came the WWE. (Yes, you read that right.)

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Rejecting Leslie Jones

Chris Rock once described Leslie Jones as “about as funny as a human being can be.” She was a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live for six years, she’s a Ghostbuster and a three-time Emmy nominee. But before her big break Jones was a struggling comedian. By the time she turned 45, she had yet to make a steady paycheck in comedy and considered quitting altogether. Then Lorne Michaels called.

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Rejecting The Rubik’s Cube

450 million Rubik’s Cubes have sold worldwide. Meaning, a Rubik’s Cube has been handled by 1 in 7 humans on planet earth. The colourful toy has inspired people in the arts, in mathematics, in engineering and pop culture. But when inventor Ernő Rubik first started showcasing his creation at toy fairs, he was rejected – by toy companies, distributors and investors. Told it was “too niche.” Then, once it finally made its way into stores and millions of homes across the globe, the New York Times declared the Rubik’s Cube dead. It’s a story full of twists and turns.

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Rejecting Ty Burrell

Realtor-slash-amateur magician, Phil Dunphy, is one of the funniest dads on one of the highest-rated sitcoms. Modern Family aired for 11 seasons, bringing in millions of viewers and 22 Emmys. But before landing the role of Phil, actor Ty Burrell was rejected by Hollywood for 20 straight years. Told his features were too big, he was too off-beat and too old. By his 40th birthday, he was ready to give up acting altogether. Then the phone rang.

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We’re Back for Season Three.

We Regret To Inform You we’re back Tuesday, March 29th, for our third season. And we’ve got some inspiring stories to share with you this year. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s in store.

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Season TWO

Short Stories in Television (Annie Murphy, Squid Game, Matt LeBlanc & The Queen’s Gambit)

We regret to inform you, this week marks the final episode of our 2021 season. So, we thought we’d do something a little different. Over the past two years, we’ve come across several fascinating rejection stories that weren’t long enough for a full episode, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less packed with insight. Join us this week for ‘Short Stories in Television’ – the inspiring pint-sized rejection stories of Annie Murphy, Matt LeBlanc, Squid Game and The Queen’s Gambit.

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Rejecting Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad holds the Guinness World Record for highest-rated television show of all time. But back when creator Vince Gilligan was first pitching the series, it was rejected by four major networks. This week, we tell Gilligan’s story. From being told no one in their right mind would let a show about crystal meth air on television, to showrunning one of the most beloved series in history.

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Rejecting Lucille Ball

I Love Lucy is one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time, bringing in over 30 million viewers per week in its day. But before becoming the queen of prime-time television, Lucille Ball was known as “Queen of the B-Pictures” – pin-balling around Hollywood studios, unable to draw a box office crowd. Join us this week as we tell Ball’s fascinating story – from panhandling for bus fare to becoming the first-ever inductee into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.

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Rejecting Women in the Boston Marathon (The Stories of Bobbi Gibb and Kathrine Switzer)

In 2019, 13,684 of the Boston Marathon’s participants were women – making up nearly 50% of total entrants. But back in the 1960s, women weren’t permitted into the prestigious event, rejected solely on the basis of sex. Until two brave women had enough. Join us this week as we tell the stories of pioneer runners Bobbi Gibb and Kathrine Switzer – the first women to ever run the Boston Marathon after 70 years as a men’s only event.

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Rejecting Moonstruck

Moonstruck, starring Cher and Nicolas Cage, is considered one of the best romantic comedies of all time. Yet, back in 1987, the screenplay was turned down by Hollywood executives, the actors were told they weren’t bankable and the studio didn’t think the picture was marketable. Join us this week as we tell the story of Moonstruck – from rejection straight to the Academy Awards.

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Rejecting Linkin Park, Part 2

In Part Two of Rejecting Linkin Park, we find out what happens when Xero puts on a public showcase, against the advice of their publisher. A key player in the story is fired. Then, the band is forced to change their name.

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Season One

The Reflection Podcast, 2020

We regret to inform you that today marks our final episode of Season One. So we thought we’d do something a little different. This week, Sidney and Terry sit down to chat about the lessons and the stories from Season One AND answer some of your questions.

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Rejecting Fred VanVleet

Fred VanVleet is an NBA champion who recently signed a four-year contract with the Toronto Raptors worth $85 million. But before becoming a key player for the Raps, VanVleet was overlooked and underestimated at every single stage of his basketball career. This week, we tell his amazing story. From being rejected by all 30 teams in the NBA draft to becoming the highest-paid undrafted player of all time.

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Rejecting Taraji P. Henson

Taraji P. Henson is an Academy Award-nominated actress, known for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Hidden Figures as well as her iconic role as Cookie Lyon in the hit television show Empire. But before taking Hollywood by storm, Henson was rejected from acting school and rejected for parts, making $10 an hour as a receptionist between auditions. Join us this week as we tell Henson’s incredible story. From being labelled as “too urban” to earning the most Best Actress awards in BET history.

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Rejecting Wham!

In the four short years Wham! was together, they sold 30 million records. Making them one of the best-selling duos of the ‘80s and launching the subsequent career of the late great George Michael. But before reaching the top of the pops, schoolmates and best friends Andrew Ridgeley and Georgios Panayiotou were laughed out of the room by dozens of record labels. Join us this week as we tell Wham!’s remarkable story. From being told they were ‘just another synthesizer band’ to really making it big.

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Rejecting Brian Grazer (Splash)

Splash launched the filmmaking careers of Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. It put Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah on the map and was nominated for an Academy Award. But as a budding movie producer, Grazer spent seven years trying to sell the script, facing unrelenting rejection from every studio in LA. Join us this week as dive into Grazer’s fascinating story. From being told mermaid movies don’t sell movie tickets to earning $70 million at the box office.

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Rejecting Bat out of Hell

Bat out of Hell is one of the top albums of all time according to Rolling Stone Magazine. But before going certified platinum 14 times over, before shattering chart records and before selling over 40 million copies worldwide, it was rejected. Over 40 times. Join us this week as we tell Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf’s incredible story, from being told they were “too theatre” to crack the mainstream, to selling over 200,000 copies a year, even 40 years later.

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