From Cleaning Toilets to CEO, Leila Janah on How Rejection Is Inevitable & the Key to Success & Grit

Last updated: Jun 1, 2023

The video is a re-release of an interview with Leila Janah, who talks about how rejection is inevitable in entrepreneurship and the importance of grit, which she attributes to her upbringing and early experiences working various jobs, including cleaning toilets.

The video is a re-release of an interview with Leila Janah, who passed away earlier this year. Janah talks about her upbringing as the child of immigrants and how her experiences cleaning toilets and working hard labor jobs built her grit and resilience, which she believes is essential for success as an entrepreneur. She also discusses the importance of not quitting and getting through rejection after rejection, and how her frugality and discipline from her early jobs helped her in her entrepreneurial career. Janah encourages those starting their own companies to toughen up and build resilience through hardship.

  • Leila Janah's grit comes from her upbringing and early experiences.
  • Starting a company involves rejection, and thick skin is important.
  • Adverse childhood experiences can lead to building grit and resilience.
  • Rejection is inevitable in entrepreneurship, and successful entrepreneurs get back up.
  • Choosing your response to trauma is powerful and can lead to post-traumatic growth.
  • Leila Janah struggled with depression and found catharsis from individual stories.
  • Leila Janah has a four-step process to deal with things, including meditation and reflection on nature.
  • Leila Janah founded Samasource and LXMI to help people and transform tough times into something good for the world.
  • Grit is the key to success in entrepreneurship.

From Cleaning Toilets to CEO, Leila Janah on How Rejection Is Inevitable & the Key to Success & Grit - YouTube

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Leila Janah's Upbringing and Grit

  • Leila Janah attributes her grit to her upbringing.
  • As an entrepreneur, the most important attribute is not quitting and getting through rejection after rejection.
  • Successful entrepreneurs have thick skin around rejection.
  • Leila Janah's parents were immigrants who had to struggle.
  • Leila Janah had to work various jobs, including cleaning toilets, to pay for college.
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Leila Janah's Early Experiences

  • Leila Janah's parents had to struggle when they came to the US.
  • Leila Janah had to work various jobs from a young age.
  • Leila Janah found refuge in academics and was passionate about school.
  • Leila Janah got into Harvard but didn't have the money to attend.
  • Leila Janah cleaned toilets for her campus to pay for college.
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The Importance of Character Building

  • Leila Janah's parents made her take hard labor jobs to build character.
  • Leila Janah had to work in a door factory at the age of 12.
  • Leila Janah's early experiences of hardship have served her well in her entrepreneurial journey.
  • People who have endured hardship can build grit and resilience from it.
  • Adverse childhood experiences can lead to building grit and resilience.
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From Cleaning Toilets to CEO, Leila Janah on How Rejection Is Inevitable & the Key to Success & Grit - YouTube

Tips for Starting a Company

  • Starting a company involves rejection after rejection.
  • Having thick skin around rejection is a huge asset.
  • People who have not endured hardship can toughen up by building grit and resilience.
  • Adverse childhood experiences can lead to building grit and resilience.
  • Building frugality and discipline can be helpful in entrepreneurial careers.
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Early Experiences and Rejection in Entrepreneurship

  • Rejection is inevitable in entrepreneurship.
  • Reading about failure and case studies can help push beyond comfort zones.
  • Getting back up after being punched many times is key to success.
  • Successful entrepreneurs who don't quit are those who get back up.
  • Rejection is a part of the early days of a startup.
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Leila Janah's Upbringing and Resilience

  • Leila Janah moved 12 times and attended wealthy public schools.
  • She experienced abuse in her family.
  • Her refuge was in helping others through community service.
  • She received a scholarship from a tobacco company to go to Ghana.
  • Her experiences propelled her out of her comfort zone and created vulnerability.
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Choosing Your Response to Trauma

  • The only power we have in the world is choosing our response.
  • We can't choose what happens to us, but we can choose how to respond.
  • Choosing our response gives us freedom.
  • Post-traumatic growth is possible by choosing to mold painful experiences into something positive for the world.
  • Choosing to take painful experiences and mold them into something positive is the deepest kind of healing.
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Advice for Those Going Through Trauma

  • Choose your response to the trauma.
  • Use the experience as a growth opportunity.
  • Find a refuge in helping others.
  • Take the painful experience and mold it into something positive for the world.
  • Choosing to take a painful experience and mold it into something positive is the deepest kind of healing.
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Leila Janah's Tough Times

  • Leila Janah struggled with severe depression in her 20s.
  • She lost her aunt and one of her best friends to suicide in the same year.
  • She was also undergoing tremendous financial pressure due to her parents' divorce and had to work three jobs to make ends meet.
  • She did research in Rwanda, working with victims of the genocide, which exposed her to serious trauma.
  • She moved to New York City and took a management consulting job to pay the bills and learn about business.
  • She went through some very dark times and found a career that nourishes her spiritually.
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Catharsis from Individual Stories

  • Leila Janah struggled with depression in her 20s and found catharsis from individual stories of the people she touched.
  • She had a file in her Gmail of inspirational stories from their workers and managers of their centers.
  • She would go back and read those stories whenever she was feeling depressed to ground herself.
  • Connecting with other people who are suffering can relieve your own burden.
  • She would immerse herself in issues around global poverty or understand what life was like for someone who had it even worse.
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Leila Janah's Four-Step Process

  • Leila Janah has a four-step process to deal with things.
  • One of them is meditation.
  • Another is thinking about nature and space, something bigger than the human problems she's struggling with.
  • She finds it fascinating to see that sort of reflection both at the human level and even stepping outside of that and seeing how small we are.
  • She looks at the telescope at Saturn to remind herself of the vastness of the universe.
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Leila Janah's Career and Transformation

  • Leila Janah wanted to create a business that would help people and ideally hire poor people and move them out of poverty.
  • She founded Samasource, a non-profit that connects people living in poverty to work via the internet.
  • She also founded LXMI, a luxury skincare brand that sources ingredients from low-income women's cooperatives.
  • She transformed her tough times into something good for the world.
  • She believes that rejection is inevitable in entrepreneurship and that grit is the key to success.
From Cleaning Toilets to CEO, Leila Janah on How Rejection Is Inevitable & the Key to Success & Grit 016

Leila Janah's Four-Step Process for Lowering Stress

  • Meditation and mindfulness
  • Contemplating nature
  • Exercise
  • Therapy and coaching
From Cleaning Toilets to CEO, Leila Janah on How Rejection Is Inevitable & the Key to Success & Grit 017

The Importance of Taking a Pause

  • Inserting a pause before responding is helpful for relationships
  • Entrepreneurial hustle can lead to quick, damaging responses
  • Worst decisions and comments are made without taking a pause
  • Leila Janah's story of not sending a vicious email to a critic
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The Role of Grit in Entrepreneurship

  • Rejection is inevitable in entrepreneurship
  • Grit is necessary for overcoming rejection and persevering
  • Leila Janah's upbringing and early jobs taught her grit
  • Her experience cleaning toilets taught her the value of hard work
  • She started her non-profit, Samasource, with grit and determination
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The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in Business

  • Diversity and inclusion are important for business success
  • Leila Janah's non-profit, Samasource, focuses on hiring people from marginalized communities
  • She believes that diversity leads to better decision-making and innovation
  • She encourages other businesses to prioritize diversity and inclusion
  • She acknowledges the challenges of implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives
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Leila Janah's Work to Fight Domestic Poverty

  • Leila Janah's inspiration to fight domestic poverty came from a man who lost his job due to factory work going overseas.
  • Janah went to her board at Samasource to discuss how they could fight domestic poverty.
  • Samaschool was created to help modernize workforce training in the US.
  • The program trains low-income Americans for gig economy jobs.
  • The program operates in San Francisco and New York.
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Importance of Grit in Entrepreneurship

  • Rejection is inevitable in entrepreneurship.
  • Grit is important in overcoming rejection and achieving success.
  • Janah attributes her grit to her upbringing and early experiences working various jobs, including cleaning toilets.
  • Janah believes that failure is a necessary part of the learning process.
  • Janah encourages entrepreneurs to keep pushing forward and not give up on their dreams.
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Putting Social Leaders on Pedestals

  • Putting social leaders on pedestals can make people feel like they can never enter the field of service.
  • Social leaders are not flawless and should not be put on pedestals.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi were not saints and had flaws.
  • People should not use the flaws of social leaders as an excuse to not act themselves.
  • People should not nitpick social leaders and use their personal choices as a reason to discredit their work.
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Leila Janah's Passion for Social Work

  • Janah has a passion for social work that makes her feel good.
  • Janah believes that her passion for social work is almost selfish because it makes her feel good.
  • Janah compares her passion for social work to the feeling that others get from going to church or doing volunteer work.
  • Janah believes that everyone has a moral duty to act and help others.
  • Janah believes that people do not need to be flawless or saints to do work in service of humanity.
From Cleaning Toilets to CEO, Leila Janah on How Rejection Is Inevitable & the Key to Success & Grit 026

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