Why You Should Go for “No”

For the past two decades, I've been the go-to communications coach for world leaders, CEOs, philanthropists, and innovators—helping them unleash their true potential and propel their businesses forward. I've had the privilege of coaching remarkable individuals, from securing the 2016 Summer Olympics for Rio to working with tech giants and inspiring change makers at events like the Clinton Global Initiative and the Commonwealth Games Federation. Here’s the surprising thing I've discovered in my career: When making the asks that will move your career, business, and life forward, the goal is not always about getting a "yes." Before I get going, I need to say I’ll be talking about money and asking in this article, but money is a metaphor. You will make all kinds of asks in your career. Maybe your asks are about job titles, or connections, or access, or visibility, or responsibility. All of them will help you move toward your goals. So, let’s start with money, then you can apply this advice accordingly even if compensation or cash isn’t part of your ask. I’ve been out “on my own” for most of my career. That means I’ve written a lot of proposals. And when I say, “a lot,” I don’t mean a handful. I mean thousands. More than I care to count. I’ve got a lot of experience with proposals and negotiating, and I’m pretty good at it.  But what I’ve learned from my long, independent career is that most of us go after the wrong thing. We pursue the “yes.” Now, I know what you’re thinking. The ‘yes’ is the wrong thing? What does that even mean? How could a ‘yes’ be bad? The “yes,” and especially the “quick yes,” is [...]