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Season 1

Ep. 29: Bonus: Dr. Eli Joseph, Author of “The Perfect Rejection Resume” and Columbia University Professor

By July 27, 2022November 30th, 2022No Comments

Episode Overview

Our bonus episode today features Dr. Eli Joseph, an author, educator, TEDx speaker, faculty member at Columbia University and Queens College, and a partner and medical examiner at ExamOne. His new book, “The Perfect Rejection Resume: A Reader’s Guide to Building a Career Through Failure”, compiles lessons about failure from his own life experiences and those of influential thought leaders. Get ready to have a deep conversation about overcoming rejection and failure.

Here are some questions we will be answering:

– What’s a rejection resume?

– How did you use rejection to fuel your professional achievements?

– Are there any ways to bend the rules in your favor?

– What are some reasons why your dream job may be out of reach?

– What’s going on with the Great Resignation?

– What are the takeaways from your book, “The Perfect Rejection Resume”


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* Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed in this podcast are of the host and guest and not of their employers.

Episode Transcript


“I would rather have a dream purpose rather than a dream job, because a dream job basically constrains you to a corner here while a dream purpose can expand. That’s my goal.” – Dr. Eli Joseph


Welcome to the Final Round podcast, where our mission is to help you knock out the competition, advance past the final round interview and grow in your career. My name is AJ Eckstein, and I’m a podcast host, recruiting expert, international speaker, career coach and strategy consultant. Join me in the ring as I speak with RECRUITERS at top companies to learn the secrets why certain applicants get “knocked out” and others are still standing after the final round. 

Now let’s get ready to rumble. 



Our bonus episode today features Dr. Eli Joseph, an author, educator, TEDx speaker, faculty member at Columbia University and Queen’s College, and a partner and medical examiner at ExamOne, a Quest Diagnostics company. His new book, “The Perfect Rejection Resume: A Reader’s Guide to Building a Career Through Failure,” compiles lessons about failure from his own life experiences and those of influential thought leaders. Get ready to have a deep conversation about overcoming rejection and failure. 

Hello, everybody and welcome back to the Final Round podcast. We are tuning live from the Final Round studio and our guests just joined us today. So, Dr. Eli Joseph, how are you doing today? And where are you tuning in from?


Eli: I’m doing great, AJ. Thank you for having me. I am doing wonderful. I am based in New York City. Brooklyn, New York to be specific. But what I also do is I teach at Columbia University. I am also a part of Quest Diagnostics. So, I’m in New York City trying to stay productive,


Awesome! Well, we were just talking right before we hit record, we were talking about weather. And over here in Los Angeles, it’s a bit chilly, it’s pretty blustery and cloudy. I know on the east coast, there is a heat wave. So, hopefully, you’re staying indoors and not getting too hot outside. But I’m really excited to dive in. I think for all of our listeners who just hit play and are listening to this episode, I hope they can get ready for a very authentic episode around the world of rejection and how you really can combat rejection because not enough people talk about it and trust me from my experience, I know from your experience life is not always the wins and the positive days. There’s a lot of down days and a lot of rejection. So, I’m super excited to dive in. I first actually wanted to talk about what’s going on in the job market today. I understand that we are undergoing something called “The Great Resignation,” where employees are leaving jobs at alarming rates. But the reality is that job seekers are facing a wildly different reality and there’s a statistic from Harvard Business School that companies reject as many as 27 million US workers. So, there’s actually the great rejection. So, what is going on in the job market today from your eyes?


Eli: We have an influx of jobs that are available. What we know is that there is a shortage to fill those jobs up with candidates here. But then again at the same time, we do have a very great pool of qualified candidates and I say there are the top 10, top 20% that are getting access to all of these opportunities. And what about the other 80-90%, and we have this disconnect here and that’s what’s going on in the job market where there’s a disconnect between the average employees and even the qualified employees that are qualified for those roles and the employees that hold these roles. It’s funny because I’m actually writing an article where these employees are holding on to these jobs and they’re waiting for that perfect candidate to fill those roles and in reality, no one is perfect here. So, there’s a big disconnect between the employers and the people that are applying for those roles. This is where the rejection resume and I think marketing your failures comes into play here rather than just marketing your success.


What’s a rejection resume?

So, let’s talk about that because I know that you are someone who coined the term the rejection resume and you recently wrote a book and the book is titled The Perfect Rejection Resume: A Reader’s Guide to Building a Career Through Failure. And in this book, I understand that you dive super deep into the rugged mindset of using failure to accomplish one’s goal by any means. So, what is a rejection resume? And maybe if you can share more about what this book is about?


Eli: So, we know about traditional resume. A traditional resume is basically a resume that highlights our success and what we have accomplished throughout our academic careers or our professional careers. A rejection resume is the complete opposite where we are sharing our failures, we are sharing what we struggled with, we are sharing whether it’s professional, academic, personal. We’re sharing the things that we failed at. We’re not only posting it on our resume and putting it underneath the rug and hiding it, we’re sharing it. We’re sharing stories behind what we have learned from our failures here, and that’s what a rejection resume is all about.


How did you use rejection to fuel your professional achievements?

And what do you do with the rejection resume? Do you keep it as internal motivation for yourself? Do you share it with an employer?


Eli: I keep it as not only an internal motivation, but it’s also a way to right my wrongs and it’s a ledger to keep track of what I’ve done wrong and to correct that. So, if there’s other opportunities in the future, I can take those lessons I’ve learned from the past and have a better outcome in the future. Not only that, I may not share with my employer while I’m applying for a job. However, I can share it with my network on social media to say, “Hey, I may have been accomplished in this area, but I have struggled in many other areas before. I would like to share my story and my perspective in hopes to have a better outcome not only from my end but for those who are viewing and those who are interested in reading about my story as well.” So, it’s more of a marketing tool where I can use to say, “Hey, I’m great at this, but I am brave enough to share my struggles and my failures as well and have a dollar going.”


So, how I understand that you said talk about what you have done well or you succeeded in then talk about some things that maybe you’ve failed at or maybe you’ve gotten rejected with, but then the last key piece is the key takeaways from what you have been rejected from. Is that correct? Kind of that three-part process of actually making a rejection resume.


Eli: Yes. It’s a three-part process. Not only are we going to create it, we’re going to reflect and on top of that, we’re going to use it and apply it towards the future and analyze the situation. Use that situation and move forward and be open to not only update your traditional resume, but update your rejection resume as well. So, that way you can keep those lessons flowing through that. Not only that we’re doing, we’re doing a tit for tat basically. So, whatever you have succeeded in, you also have to have a story that you failed in so that way you can use that as a tool to motivate you in the future and succeed in the future as well.


How did you use rejection to fuel your professional achievements?

I think it’s a great topic to be discussing today because I’ve seen and obviously, I call myself a power user on LinkedIn as a LinkedIn content creator. I know you’re very active on LinkedIn as well. Yesterday, all the content was about, “I’m happy to announce this or I can’t believe I got accepted into this school or this business school, whatever may be,” and that was yesterday. Today, you still see some of those posts, but a lot of it is more about being real with your audience, with your network, with your followers and maybe sharing some rejection. It shouldn’t all be rejection. But talking about maybe applying to some Ivy League schools, getting rejected for what you’ve learned from it and then using that to get to the next place. And I’ve seen for instance, there was a post about someone who applied to all of the Ivy League schools, got rejected from all of them. The post went viral. And I can only imagine how many, maybe college admissions directors reached out or if it was the same thing for a job, I applied to all of the FAANG companies, the Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google and I got rejected and then people reach out, how do you best advise our audience to use the rejection resume in their marketing approach in social media?


Eli: So, it’s funny to add on to your point of graduation. We’re in the midst of graduation. At Colombia, we’ve done graduated students all week and everyone is excited, they’re sharing their portraits, right? But they don’t really share the stories of failure, the all-nighters, failing stories and to your point, I always love a comeback story. Everyone loved that comeback story where you have failed all the tech companies and the next thing you know it went viral and then you’re receiving all these opportunities. So, this is how I would tell someone how to devise someone to share their story. I would jab. I would use a jab, jab and a hook. I think Gary Vaynerchuk uses that method as well, where you would jab at something, you would post a teaser, you would post the fact that you failed, you failed at something recently. Right? And then you see how the attraction comes about when it comes to that status and then you add a little bit more into that story of rejection, you add a little bit more of that story of rejection. Once you feel comfortable then you can share that document rejection and resume that you have accumulated over the past, I don’t know, 5, 10 years and then watch all the influx of comments, the likes, the shares and you can capitalize off of that. 

It’s basically momentum. You’re building up momentum to share that document and you’re using that document to say, “Okay. You know what, I have a resume. I’m proud of my resume and my traditional resume, but I’m also proud of my rejection resume that I’ve learned over the years.” So, you’re basically using that small. We’re taking baby steps, we’re going to walk, we’re going to use one status of failure over time then we are basically growing into 10, 15 and next thing you know, you have a rejection resume to share with your audience and then you know, all the opportunities are coming in.


What are the takeaways from your book, “The Perfect Rejection Resume?”

I totally agree with you that people gravitate towards comeback stories, right? Nobody wants somebody from day one to have every single success and no challenges because at the end of the day, that’s not reality especially for a majority of the people out there, including myself, including yourself and we’ll talk about kind of your story in a second. But I think really do a deep dive especially even if you got that job, think about how many jobs you got rejected from. Even if you got that dream school, how many schools did you also get rejected from and the next 20 things, next 20 categories of applying to things. So, I do like the idea of being authentic and transparent with your network. Like you said, especially since this is a podcast with some boxing elements, you said jab, jab, hook which works perfectly for the knockout punch for the Final Round podcast. One more thing on this topic, Eli is that you can also think about one day as in one day I hope to be a student at Columbia and then when you get the offer letter, it’s here’s day one. So, one day, it’s a dream versus day one, it’s reality and being honest with your network, which I love how you shared more about that. To stay on the topic of your book for one more second, I saw that your book includes inspiring tips from Today’s Career Trailblazers. So, what are some of the biggest tips that you can share with our audience?


Eli: So, the biggest tip that I can share with my audience and your audience as well, our audience is to find others that have that same mindset, that are not afraid to share their failures. I mean, we’re talking about when I’ve gotten the rejection resume from Rashaad Lambert who is currently the Senior Vice President at Forbes, it was different because I’m like, ‘Wow, okay.’ I thought my rejection resume looked bad, but look at his. And when I got the rejection resume from Dr. Janice Gassam, it was like “Okay. Wow! So, I’m not the only one.” I realized that I’m not the only one who has failed before. The concept of that rejection resumes, it gravitates towards us because we succeeded a lot. We have been successful in our endeavors, but we also have little to no light on how we’ve got to that point up until when we’re creating that resume. So, the tip for our listeners is to find other people that are willing to tag along that journey. Not in a way of, okay, you know what? You have your own path, everyone has their own path, everyone has their own lane. However, you’re basically going in the right direction. And there’s another tip from the book: direction is much more important than speed, right? And when we think of going in a positive direction, that’s one key indicator that we’re doing something positive for ourselves. However, we don’t have to rush. There’s no way to rush. And on top of that, when we’re rushing, you have to understand that time can be our ally and it can also be our enemy as well. So, the tip to our listeners is find other people that are in the ground, that are in those trenches with you and that are struggling to succeed at a goal that they have been working on for quite some time and build on that. Build on that, so that way when the final round comes about, we’re ready. Not only have you endured and you have endurance, you also have the stamina to basically get through that final round. 


I can already tell you that we’re going to clip that quote that you said for probably our hook of this episode and just to repeat it to the audience, say it and maybe even go back 15 seconds, listen to it again, you said, “Direction is more important than speed.” I’ve actually never heard that. I love that because it’s not just about being first. Even in business, it’s not about just being the first mover or having that advantage, but it’s also making sure you’re going in the right direction. As a job seeker, you don’t want to just be as quick as possible to apply to a million jobs, but are you going in the right direction and maybe taking a step back, trying to figure out what we want to do first before rapid fire applying, which we talked about on the show a lot, where it’s not the best focus on networking, not just apply to a million jobs. So, direction is more important than speed, which I love, great quote. And then you said find others in the trenches and find people who have the same mindset as you. So, if I’m someone in the audience of the Final Round and I’m loving this episode, and maybe I just left a five-star review on an Apple podcast, which hopefully our audience has already done. How do they go about finding those people? Because it could be a little bit difficult to find someone’s motivation on social media without meeting them first.


Eli: Okay. So, I like to use A/B testing as well in business as far as testing, which post works well for me. So, if I post something, I’ll just post, let’s say an affirmation and someone comments, “Hey, I feel the same way.” Okay, all right. So, now, that’s an indicator saying, okay, you know what, that person can potentially be in the trenches and they have that same energy that resonates with me at the moment, at the time that I posted something. Okay. So, I can connect with them in a way. If I’m not connected with them already, I can connect with them. And then I’ll start off by saying, “Hey, I appreciate you for commenting and sharing the love of my post. How are you feeling today? How’s everything going?” You have that dialogue going. You realize that there are more and more people that are in the trenches than you think, especially within your network. There’s a reason why people are following you. There’s a reason why people have connections to you, because you serve as a purpose. 

So, when I find people, I never knew that there are thousands of people that are in the trenches. So, when I say, “Here’s the rejection resume from AJ,” and you’re like, “Wow, okay. Let me read AJ’s story real quick, his story and his background and see if we can have a connection,” and then it builds up from there. So, just finding out who likes your stories, who engages with your post, who engages with your story, because we all use social media in some way, shape or form. Finding out who can engage with your story and your background and then figuring out how you can connect and move forward from there. 


I love what you said, because originally, I thought that you were talking about reaching out to, let’s say 100 people and then trying to gauge if they’re in the trenches, trying to gauge their mindset, trying to see if you have any similarities and that to me is going in the wrong direction, but it’s going faster, right, the speed. But if you take a step back, reassess your direction, as you said, direction more important than speed, and put yourself out there in a post, let’s say on LinkedIn talking about how maybe you’re a transfer student and how it’s been very challenging and how maybe you got rejected from a school, but I just transferred over, which is actually part of my story. I got rejected from USC, went to community college for a year and then transferred and maybe starting a small community of fellow transfer students, people who are in the process of transferring and who have already transferred, gauging people’s interests and then letting them come to you in the bottom of the post asking who else is in this process, who else is dealing with these challenges, see who comments and then reach out to those people. So, it’s more of an inbound approach than outbound, which I like. You said A/B testing. I know for some of our audience, maybe someone in the marketing side of a company knows a little more about A/B testing, but for you, can you share what A/B testing is and how our audience can use it to their benefit?


Eli: So, I’ll use the rejection resume as an example here for A/B testing here. So, I have a rejection resume. I know my story, right? I understand that around this time people are graduating and I’m going to share a post. I’m going to share one post today about being rejected at Columbia University and I’m teaching at Columbia University and see who likes that particular post, see who understands who can vibe with that post. That’s for today. Then tomorrow, I’m going to take it a step further and say, “Okay. I graduated with my doctorate degree. However, I was rejected at Columbia University for a post doctorate role.” See who understands, who vibes with that post and then you see that connection and you understand and analyze both posts, see who engages the most and then you can also form a tribe that way. That’s the A/B testing. Just trying to figure out the same context, same topic to see which of the posts you can get the most connection from and you can build it from there. You can get connections from both posts as well. Get engagements for both posts and then you can use it to market yourself. You’re basically marketing yourself to say, “Okay. You know what, I have accomplished so much. However, I’m going to show you the other side before anyone else can. I want to see who’s brave enough to share their story with me as well.”


I think it’s so important to use A/B testing in anything that you do, especially if you don’t know what the right direction is yet. So, again, going back and I think this episode will be direction is more important than speed. When you don’t know what direction to go yet, you have to test out or use A B testing to see and kind of get a sense of where the right direction is. Once you have a good understanding then you can move with speed. I think the same thing is in your outreach strategy, whether you are a job seeker, whether you are a job holder, you want to pivot careers, whether you want to grow in your career, whatever it may be across our audience, you shouldn’t just have one outreach template or one way to reach out to people, but you should use A/B testing to see what works best once you find that winning strategy then double down on that. So, I love how you mentioned more about A/B testing. Also, I think another good topic to dive into is the job search process is very lonely and it’s very demoralizing, especially as you’re getting rejected and I can guarantee that I think everybody will get a company rejection when they’re applying and I got tons. I know you’ve got tons as well. But do you recommend job seekers to make it more of a tribe and community feeling, getting people in the trenches with you applying for jobs or should it be more of an individual approach to getting a job?


Eli: In general, to answer your question, it’s more so of a tribe. We always rely on our network. We always say this, that the network is our net worth, right? So, when you’re in it together, you will have much more of a support because to your point, I agree it’s lonely. It’s lonely when you get that regret email in the middle of the day, right? We look forward to Mondays and Tuesdays because that’s when companies can get access to our resumes and see if we went to the next round of interviews and it’s like, ‘Man, I got rejected and I just keep it under wraps,’ and that’s a part of the loneliness of it all. We’re not only getting rejected but we’re staying quiet about it and we’re only keeping it to us. For those who have said, “Okay. You know what, I’ve gotten rejected so many times. I’ve done so much interviews with this company and I failed.” And if someone is saying, “Man, I failed too. I failed too. I’m alone with you,” and it makes you feel better and if it’s two of you guys, it’s better than just one going through it. And next thing you know, you have 10 people saying, “Man, I got rejected too.” Now, you have a community saying, “I got rejected,” but someone is trying something else, you kind of bounce ideas off. So, I always believe that it makes perfect sense to deal with the tribe and work within the trenches so that way everyone can succeed as well. There are times where there may be some things that you have to internalize yourself, but in general, I think it’s best to go with your network. Through my anecdotal experience, all the opportunities that I’ve gotten myself as far as working at Columbia, working at ExamOne Quest Diagnostics, it was never going alone and doing the application process alone. It was through a network. So, I’m always in favor of just finding people that are like-minded and moving forward. That way, you have a support system to fall back on just in case something goes wrong. 


How did you use rejection to fuel your professional achievements?

People might be saying, “Well it’s very easy for Eli and AJ to talk about rejection as if you are on the summit of your mountain, whatever you’re climbing right now.” But I think it’s important to also talk, Eli about your rejection resume, maybe just a glimpse of what maybe you have been rejected from. I saw that you received over 1500 educational professional rejections and I also read that you use this rejection to fuel your professional achievements. So, can you talk about what you’ve been rejected from and how you use that to get to where you are today?


Eli: So, I’m actually in Columbia. I’ve gotten rejected by Columbia so many times actually and all I need is just one acceptance and I’ve gotten in 2018. JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, I was the math guy that was going into finance in Wall Street. I wanted to get into Wall Street, it didn’t happen that way. Then I said, “Okay. You know what, the techs: Apple, Google, Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, you name it, Facebook. I’ve gotten rejected there as well. However, if I got rejected at Facebook and I got rejected by LinkedIn even LinkedIn, but I’m using their platform, I can capitalize on that. I can basically use their platform to turn the tables and have a better offering for myself. That’s how I look at it. So, I’ve gotten rejected by all the companies that you can think of. I’ve gotten rejected. I’ve applied everywhere. I’ve gotten rejected so many times, but all I needed was just one yes. And I always try to figure out how I can build momentum from my success, a small success? Whether it’s big or small, I want to figure out how I can monetize and not only monetize but build momentum from that. I got rejected so many times. I mean, you name it. You name all the schools rejected me and that’s okay. All of the companies that you can think of rejected me and that’s totally fine. But it was a matter of using that experience to my advantage and I realized that no one is really talking about it up until now. So, that’s how I turn the tables on my failures as well.


When you say build momentum, and I want to unpack that for one second. I think it’s very easy to think, ‘Okay. Well, if I’m applying for a job, there’s only one win and that one win is getting an offer letter,’ but I think you should break it down into instead of just trying to hit a home run, even getting to first base, second base, third base, getting ground double, whatever it may be is still a small win and all those small wins accumulate to those larger wins or those home runs. So, when you send an outreach message and someone responds, that’s a win. When you’re able to hop on a call with somebody and take their time, that’s a win. When you get an interview, that’s a win. And even if you get rejected at the final round interview, it’s not a failure. Learn from it and go to the next company. And maybe if you’re a career professional and you want to grow thinking about networking internally, even externally and trying to count the small wins before you pivot to another industry, another company. So, I think that’s a great way like you said to build momentum. 

On the topic of failure, when the Final Round launched on TikTok, we completely flopped. We spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours for a horrible return on investment, but we learned a ton. I’m happy to announce that we revamped our short form video content with the new street style interview series asking career questions to strangers. Example questions include: how many hours per week do you work? How much money do you make and what do you do for a living? Our most recent videos have been seen by more than 300,000 and 150,000 people. Check out our TikTok @thefinalround or our Instagram @thefinalroundpod. Use this as motivation to keep moving forward even when you don’t see results instantly. Now, back to the show. 


Are there any ways to bend the rules in your favor?

Are there any other ways, Eli, that you can bend the rules in your favor?


Eli: Going back to my original point about having a team around you or having a good network, how I bend the rules, I bend the rules using and utilizing other people. So, for example, let’s look at the application process. When there is a job that is being advertised, we are encouraged to apply and send our resumes. It’s traditional, send out resumes, apply, we get an email back saying, “Hey, we confirmed to see your resume and we will review all applications and we’ll move forward from there.” That’s the traditional way of doing things. However, perhaps there’s a possibility that you may know someone on the other side. You can bend the rules by getting referrals, and can bend the rules by actually visiting the company or the organization. Perhaps there’s an opportunity where you can ask someone that works within the company. “Hey, is there a way I can visit you?” And the possibility is yes or no. If it’s yes, then it’s like you have an upper advantage. You’re basically bending the rules in your favor to gain an upper advantage on a situation that many other people may not have because of your connections as well. I’m an introvert. I’m an introvert to the core. I don’t like to socialize with people, but I know that in order for me to bend the rules to my favor, I have to know someone on the other side. I have to know something that works within the company that I’m very interested in working for and see if I can gauge their knowledge. Are you supposed to meet a lot to bend the rules? And this is the A/B testing because I like to go against the grain, be the outlier, be the anomaly. Go against the grain, bend the rules. So, that way you have that reputation from your peers and your colleagues saying, “Okay, you know what, you are a professional. However, you can say some things, you can do some things that many people may not do or say because you’ve done it before, right?” And it’s just having that understanding that you may be wrong. However, you’re bold enough and brave enough to do things that many people don’t think about doing. So that’s how I think of bending the rules to my favor. 


I think these are such great tips on how to kind of turn the tables and like you said, bend the rules and I think that’s what you’ve done. Like you said on social media and I saw you have a whopping 350,000 followers just on Instagram alone, which is incredible. We’ll definitely drop a link to all your social media links down below in the show notes. But when you were going through the process of rejection and you got those 1500 rejections across educational and maybe corporations, how did you stay motivated? I know you said to continue to build momentum, build a tribe, use your network, but what are some smaller tips to really keep you going because it can be very demoralizing with whatever you’re doing when you keep getting a no or getting rejected?


Eli: So, when I was getting through that process between 2014 and up until now, I’ve always said to myself, ‘Okay, you know what, those people that have rejected me in the past, they will hear from me in the future.’ They will hear from me. And it’s not a threat or it’s not an antagonizing statement against those companies that have rejected me. It’s more so of, ‘You’re going to know about me. Some way, shape or form, you’re going to know about me. Whether you’re working or not, you’re going to know about me and there’s no hard feelings.’ I have no hard feelings. If I had hard feelings on all the organizations that have rejected me in the past, I mean, come on, there’s no way I can survive here. But it’s more so of you guys who rejected me in the past, all right, no problem. You will know about me in the future. It’s funny because when I share that rejection resume and I’m sharing stories and I’m sharing articles and I’ve written for a good decent amount of business publications and I’ll share my story, I’m getting feedback from people that work at companies that rejected me saying, “Man, we dropped the ball on this one, we dropped the ball and we could have hired you for this role.” And just understanding that, it’s just knowing that you’ve heard about me through another capacity. And that’s basically my promise that I kept to myself, all of the people that have rejected me in the past, you will hear from me again. And that’s what kept me motivated when I was getting rejected so many times, when I was failing classes. Just understanding that at the end of the road, you will hear my story, you will hear my roar and here we are. People are gravitating towards that story. I think that my rejection resume and the story behind it receives more of an impact than the positive stuff that I’m doing. The fact that I’m working at Columbia and I’m teaching the students there, that doesn’t really get much attention compared to the rejection resume and my story of failure and that’s what gravitates towards that. That’s basically me, that’s my story, that’s my identity. So, just understand that those who have rejected me in the past, all the organizations that failed, that you will hear from me again. In a positive way, it keeps me motivated to push forward.


What are some reasons why your dream job may be out of reach?

They heard your roar. They have because not only have they heard about you and now you’re teaching at Columbia. Maybe they just picked up a book, they finished the book and they said, “Wait a second. This guy is the author, I rejected him a couple of years ago,” maybe they read your articles on Fast Company, Forbes, etc. Maybe they listened to or watched your TED talk, maybe they listened to you in the Final Round podcast and I love how you use that rejection as motivation and fuel to keep going not in a negative way, not in a harmful way, but in a very positive way which you have done. So, I think those comeback stories are fantastic and you’ve obviously had such an incredible story. I want to talk about dream jobs for a second because a lot of people focus on one company, they have one dream company they put on a pedestal, but just not always really attainable. So, what are some reasons why your dream job may be out of reach?


Eli: So, I have a few reasons why a dream job may be out of reach. The first reason is you may not be the dream candidate for that opportunity that you’re going for. You may not be that dream candidate for that role. So, that’s one of the reasons and that’s okay, right? It’s either you may work to become that dream candidate or you work on other aspects and that’s why the concept of having a dream job may be out of reach. Another reason why your goals are constantly changing, right? I thought that I was going to work at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker. That was 5, 10 years ago. Now, I have no desire to do it. However, I can work with Goldman Sachs through another capacity, but me being an investment banker and having that dream, that was my dream job at the moment, it’s no longer the dream job. So, my goals are constantly changing as I go along and as I progress in my career. And on top of that is this another add on is you have to work. People have dreams all the time and the only way you can dream of something is when you’re sleeping. It doesn’t make sense for you to have a dream job when you’re sleeping towards getting that dream. You have to wake up and you have to get to it. When you get to it, you realize that you are attaining your dreams as you are moving. That’s the idea of having the dream job. I would rather have a dream purpose rather than a dream job, because a dream job is basically, it constrains you to a corner here while a dream purpose can expand, that’s my goal. That’s how I envision myself because if I wanted to attain my dream job as an investment banker, I was not successful at it and I can look at myself as a failure or I can move on. I can move on. I have other goals to obtain as well. So, that’s how I look at it and that’s how I think when it comes to having your dream job. You may as far as your goals, your goals are constantly changing. And there’s another reason why a dream job may be unattainable is because of the simple fact that if you were to obtain a dream job or you fulfill it, you may never know until you get that offer. And if you get that offer and you feel miserable at that job, then the dream job was never that dream of yours in the first place. So, those are the reasons why I think dream jobs can be unattainable.


My takeaway from what you just said is that you should have a dream purpose rather than a dream job because you’re sleeping when you’re dreaming and you have to wake up and find your purpose. So, I love what you said about rewriting the definition of a dream job. Maybe don’t call it a dream job, call that dream purpose and then find a job that fulfills that purpose. One of the last questions for today, Eli, is I understand that you have taught hundreds if not thousands of students over the years as a faculty member now at Columbia University. I can only imagine the knowledge that the students have taken away from your classes. But I’d be curious, we flip the table for a second and if you can share what you have learned from the students.


Eli: So, one thing I’ve learned from the students and it’s a part of what I’ve learned as well is it’s okay to not have 4.1 GPA. That’s what I learned from the students here. I think the students that did not do so well in my class and have gotten C’s and B’s, they end up doing great after graduation. They are killing it right now. There’s one student in particular, he received a B+ and he was not happy with the B+ in my class and it was actually a hard class. It was a statistics course that he took. He received a B+. Now, he is a leader of a $100-million hedge fund. And it’s like you’re killing it now. Back then 7 or 5 years ago you were not happy about a simple grade and now look at you right now, you’re killing it. That’s one thing I’ve learned from the students. Those who can get their hands dirty and say, ‘Okay. You know what, forget my GPA. My GPA is what it is. As long as I received my degree and as long as I’m utilizing my degree to move. Those are the things that I learned from the most because they fit that DNA of going against that grain, going against that mindset of being perfect and staying perfect and having that 4.1 GPA rather than just utilizing that education that they receive and serving a purpose moving forward. So, that’s what I learned from the students. Those who are saying, “You know what, academics is one thing but I need to figure out how I can maneuver with this degree.” And that’s what I’ve learned from those types of students.


The ironic thing about that great example is that that student probably listened to this episode of the Final Round podcast because he heard what you said about rejection and maybe he in his mind thought that you rejected him with that B letter grade and said, “You know what, Professor Joseph is going to hear my roar, and now I’m running $100 million hedge fund which is so great to see.” So, thanks for sharing that example. And I think for everybody out there, of course, strive to get a great GPA, but if it doesn’t go in your favor, it’s not the end of the world. Think about how you can jump off the page. Maybe getting involved on campus, maybe networking and getting strategic because school is just a jumping point to get to that job and now that person has an incredible job. It’s been so much fun talking with you Dr. Joseph on the Final Round podcast. But I have one final question before I will let you go today, and that question is what is the best piece of advice that you can give to our audience to help them get past the final round interview and land a job?


Eli: So, we know that when it comes to the final rounds, it’s all about fit, right? If you fit well with the company and how to gauge your knowledge and understanding of the role that you’re about to attain here. But here’s one piece of advice that I think is probably random, but it’s one piece of advice I’d like to share with the audience. If it’s possible to accomplish something that was impossible then it is possible that nothing is impossible. If you believe that something is possible to accomplish, even if you think that is impossible, then you’ve tapped into the notion that nothing is impossible. Some people have it, some people don’t. Some people lack that mentality. Some people are honing into that mentality and some people are made of that mentality.


And maybe you got rejected from Columbia and now you’re teaching other students at Columbia. Like you said, it’s possible that nothing is impossible. So, Dr. Eli Joseph, thank you so much for tuning in and joining us on the Final Round podcast. It was an absolute pleasure. And for our audience to walk away with one thing is get ready for other people to hear your roar because a rejection is redirection and go after and get what you want to accomplish. So, thank you. 

Dr. Eli Joseph changed how I think about rejection and failure. Instead of just focusing on my achievements, I will start to address the lessons learned from my failures. Be sure to check out our TikTok @thefinalround or Instagram @thefinalroundpod for more exclusive video career content. Until the next episode of the Final Round, keep fighting and I will see you in the ring.