'Rejection Is The Fuel Of Success'
Her World Malaysia|July 2018

Sarah Lian tells us why rejection is the fuel of success – and all the hard truths one must face to make the cut in this industry.

Poon Li-Wei

“Rejection sucks.” Take it from the woman who self-deprecatingly and charmingly quips, “I feel like I'm always saying ‘I’m fresh off the boat’!” After all, Sarah Lian lived her formative years in Canada before returning to her homeland, when she decided to embark on a different sort of internship. Having thoroughly enjoyed her experience at a local news station, she decided to explore all the opportunities Asia had to offer… and has not looked back in the past decade. But it’s certainly no easy feat, leaving her mark and cementing her position in an industry that is as tumultuous as it is ever changing. Here, she shares with us lessons she’s learnt along the way. 

Lesson 1:

YOU’VE GOT TO FAIL

“In this industry, you get rejected all the time. There are so many jobs I don’t get and as such, there are so many things I cannot talk about. It’s really tough when you see others land them instead!” she says, right off the bat. But this, she reasons, is what gets you closer to what you should be doing. In fact, it was having doors close in her face – whether on the professional or personal front – that brought about a whole new perspective, which has helped her grow in unimaginable ways. “A lot of people get stuck in the rejection phase and they look for others to make them feel better. You want everyone to tell you how amazing you are and that it’s their loss,” she explains, and those are words that resonate a little too well, before she continues, “But sometimes, it could also be ‘I should have worked a little harder’ or ‘Maybe I wasn’t right for the role’, and that’s okay because you’re not going to be right for everything. What’s important is that you map out a plan to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

Lesson 2:

NEVER BE AFRAID OF LEARNING

“The only constant is change,” so goes the quote by Heraclitus. It’s one Sarah has well and truly embraced, especially in the race to stay relevant in today’s world. To illustrate her point, she takes on one of the more recent topics: the emergence of social media influencers. Naturally, there’s been some opposition from those who come from the traditional side of things – having spent years building up a career based on experience and skill. And despite coming from such a background herself, Sarah is quick to remind us all: “These new talents take an amazing shot – as if that’s all it takes. But if a new medium, like Instagram, is predicated on imagery and the curation process that others don’t have – that, too, is a skill. It’s crucial to be able to learn from them, and to ask yourself if this is the way you want to stay relevant. “You have to be aware of everything that’s going on. If you’re stuck in your own world, refusing to evolve, I’m sorry – you’re going to end up like Nokia.

Lesson 3: YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO BE READY

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