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

Milton Hershey.
Pedro Pascal.
Missy Elliott.
Season Four Is Here.



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

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Season FOUR

Rejecting Pedro Pascal

Pedro Pascal is the man of the moment. In 2020 he was named one of Entertainment Weekly’s Entertainers of the Year, and in 2023 he became one of the highest-paid actors on television. But only 10 years ago, Pascal was struggling to make rent, rejected for parts and told he was aging out of Hollywood – quick. Until one afternoon, when he picked up a script for a 30-something bisexual Lothario from the 15th century…

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Rejecting Missy Elliott

Missy Elliott is the reigning Queen of Rap, credited with changing the face of hip-hop with her debut album Supa Dupa Fly and five consecutive platinum albums that followed. But before selling 30 million records, Elliott was rejected by producers, dropped by a major label and told she didn’t fit the “image” the industry was looking for. Join us this week as we tell Elliott’s story, from quitting the music business altogether to becoming the first female rapper nominated to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

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Rejecting Milton Hershey (Hershey’s Chocolates)

The Hershey Company has the largest market share of any chocolate brand in North America. But before its founder Milton Hershey sold his first milk chocolate bar, he filed for bankruptcy – twice. By his 30th birthday, the struggling entrepreneur had lost two candy companies, and the faith of his family. Join us as we kick off Season 4 with the inspiring story of a man rejected by bankers for a $700 loan, who went on to build a $50 billion business.

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Season Three

Short Stories: John Krasinski & Uzo Aduba

We regret to inform you, this week marks the final episode of our 2022 season. Over the past three years – and 60 episodes – we’ve come across so many incredible rejection stories that weren’t long enough to fill a full episode. But that doesn’t mean they’re any less packed with insight. Join us this week for Short Stories in Television, Part 2 – the inspiring pint-sized rejection stories of John Krasinski & Uzo Aduba.

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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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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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