‘Facebook Turned Me Down’ : The Job Rejection That Turned Into a $4 Billion Check

We’ve all been there — the job rejection that really stung, as with this tweet from Brian Acton in August of 2009…

Brian was feeling a bit washed up. His 11 years as an early employee at Yahoo! was now two years in the past.

He’d bounced from job to job in Silicon Valley’s startup land, and now he’d been turned down by both Facebook and, as he tweeted a few months prior, Twitter.

It’s kind of scary to be pushing 40 and feel like you’re being pushed out the door.

But the most beautiful thing about Brian is the good grace and optimism with which he handled his rejection — “It was a great opportunity to connect with some fantastic people. Looking forward to life’s next adventure.”

The hurt radiates from those 140 characters. And also a strength of character.

So Brian stuck with it. And ended up landing a job with an old colleague from Yahoo! — somebody he’d hired, actually.

It wasn’t much, and he got the grand title of ‘Co-Founder’ and no salary for his efforts.

Which paid off.

Because, you see, a few years later, Brian and his co-founder at WhatsApp sold their company to Facebook for $19 billion, with a ‘b’, making Brian’s stake worth some $4 billion. Again…with a ‘b’.

Which speaks to the importance of never giving up. Even if you’re “too old” or “past your prime” or “washed up.”

And the point of this story is not that you, too, can go start a company and sell it to Facebook for billions. (Although you just might.)

The point of the story is that you just never know what’s going to happen to you… unless you quit trying.

If you quit trying, you can guarantee that all of your fears will come true — you’ll be forgotten, you’ll be passed by, and you won’t get the next great opportunity.

But if you keep trying, good things can happen.

If you keep trying, something will come your way.

If you keep trying, sooner or later, the odds pile up in your favor, and you will earn that lucky break.

And while it may not have the delicious poetic justice of being turned down for a 6-figure job only to get a 10-figure payout four years later, sticking with it will give you the satisfaction of giving yourself the respect, and the chance, that you deserve.

Marc Cenedella is the founder of Ladders. He also writes Rooting For You, America’s largest career advice newsletter with 8 million weekly subscribers.

  ‘Facebook Turned Me Down’ : The Job Rejection That Turned Into a $4 Billion Check