Episode 184:

Let’s admit it. Agency owners are reluctant salespeople. However, biz dev should be a significant part of how we spend our days.

When I hear agency owners say that they don’t have to prospect because they get so much business via word of mouth, I always ask, “Are those the clients you would choose to work with or are you simply working with them by default?” When we’re honest with ourselves, the truth can sting a little.

I get it – no one likes to be told no. That doesn’t make selling any easier. But how do we change our mindset? Hearing no (or deafening silence) feels like a failure, so we avoid it at all costs. But what are the costs of fearing the “no” and settling for whatever comes our way?

In episode #184, I talk with Andrea Waltz, co-author of the best-selling book, Go for No. We have to re-think the word no. A “no” is one step closer to a “yes”.

Andrea and I talk about the no, not just in sales, but also in the creative process. Sometimes we phone it in because big, bold ideas have been rejected in the past. So we play it safe, even though we know that’s not in our clients’ best interests.

Andrea Waltz is a keynote speaker, author, and sought-after sales strategist. At the age of 8, she called George Lucas to see if she could work with him on future movies. She was the youngest general manager in eyeglass retailer Lenscrafters’ history. At the age of 24, she launched her own training company.

Hubspot named Andrea one of the “25 Sales Experts You Should Follow on Twitter” while Salesforce.com named her one of the “25 Sales Influencers to Follow on Twitter.” She was also named among the “Top 100 Sales Influencers” and “Top 65 Women Business Influencers” by Tenfold and one of the “47 Top Sales Speakers and Influencers to Follow on Twitter” by SummitSYNC.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How to retrain your brain to accept more “no’s”
  • Why setting “no” targets is as important as setting sales targets
  • How going for “no” translates beyond sales
  • The power of actually wanting to fail
  • Getting ready to fail bigger and fail faster to get to “yes”
  • Why celebrating failure is so important
  • How to encourage the effort and not just the result
“Once you can embrace and give yourself permission to fail, then it's not a big deal when you get those no’s.” - @GoForNo Click To Tweet “Treat yourself like a kid learning to ride a bike. You don’t scold a kid for falling. You encourage them. We have to give ourselves that same encouragement our sales process.” - @GoForNo Click To Tweet “You have to take the creativity that you apply to client work and apply that to your sales process.” - @GoForNo Click To Tweet “Pushing out of your comfort zone and taking risks is how we constantly battle fear.” - @GoForNo Click To Tweet

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Speaker 1:

Are you tired of feeling like the lonely light housekeeper as you run your agency. Welcome to the Agency Management Institute Community. Where you’ll learn how to grow and scale your business, attract and retain the best talent, make more money and keep more of what you make. The Build a Better Agency Podcast is now in our third year of sharing insights and how small to midsize agencies survive and thrive in today’s market. Bringing his 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Build a Better Agency. Today’s topic is the word, no. Now this is not a word that we are excited to hear. This is not a word that we covet, but it’s an important part of business. And one of the things that I think gets in the way of agency owners embracing their role of salesperson is that at the end of the day, we don’t want to hear no. And we are so used to being so good at what we do at the core skills that brought us into the agency life, and brought us up through the agency and somehow brought us to ownership. Or if you’re one of those rare agency owners that didn’t come up through the agency, then that entrepreneurial success that got you to start or buy or build an agency. All of those things come from being super successful. And so I think it is counterintuitive that we would be excited about hearing the word, no.

That we would seek out opportunities to be told no more often. But that’s exactly what my guest today is going to tell you that we should be doing. So a couple of quick reminders before I tell you a little bit more about our guests. So remember that we are now giving away one seat to one of the AMI workshops, or if you prefer a access to one of our online courses once a month. We’re doing that by looking at everybody who leaves us a rating or review on the podcast and we are putting their names in a hat, and then we are drawing from those names. So wherever you may download your podcast, iTunes, Stitcher, Google, wherever that may be, or one of the other bazillion places you can get podcasts these days. If you will go and leave us a rating and review, and then it is in your best interest to shoot me a quick email and give me your username. Because sometimes your usernames don’t actually give us a clue as to who you are as an actual human being.

So I’m collecting those emails as well as. So if you tell me where you left the review and the username tied to that review, then that way we can track you down if your name is the one that is pulled. Anyway, happy to do that. Grateful for commentary and the reviews. That’s how we get seen. So and I know many of you will ignore me. So I’m going to take that as your own personal no. But I’m going to keep asking, because that’s the whole theme of this conversation today. So, Andrea waltz is my guest today. And she and her husband, Richard wrote a book called, Go for No!: Yes Is the Destination, No Is How You Get There.

And Andrea and Richard have this great philosophy of celebrating the noes. And lifting up the noes as a wonderful indicator of the yeses that are around the corner, and how we reprogram our brain to be excited about being rejected, which sounds very odd. But I promise I’m going to dig into that, and we’re going to pick her brain for all that it’s worth. So without any further ado, let me welcome Andrea to the podcast. Thanks so much for joining us, Andrea. I’m glad to have you with us.

Andrea waltz:

Hey, Drew. It is fabulous to be with you.

Drew McLellan:

So give us a little bit of background. I mentioned it in the introduction, but give us a little bit of background about how the book came to be and why you were called to write this particular book.

Andrea waltz:

Yeah. So we wrote, Go for No, specifically to solve the problem of helping people overcome fear of failure and rejection and hearing the word, no. And I often say that, we couldn’t have written such a book if we didn’t ourselves have that problem to overcome. And it actually came about when my husband and business partner and co-author was working in the men’s wear business. This goes back now almost 30, 35 years. And he had a district manager come in who watched him sell and have this fantastic sale to this man who wanted to buy an entire wardrobe of clothing. This is in the clothing business. And he had this great sale. As soon as it got to about $1,100, Richard, my husband ended the sale and was waiting actually to get congratulated and his district manager, Harold actually asked him a different question and said, “Out of curiosity, Richard, what did that customer say no to?”

And Richard said, “What do you mean? He bought all of these things. I have this great sale.” And he said, “Yeah I know, but what did he say no to?” And then Richard had to respond, “He didn’t say no to anything.” And then Harold asked him this really important question, which was, “Then how did you know he was done?” And that’s this epiphany that we share in the book, in the form of a fable. And really what it comes down to is that Richard was selling from his own wallet, his own mental spending limits. And that particular story and the training that we did with Go for No, is what led us to write the book. Because so many people resonated with just hearing that story and hearing us talk about this idea of go for no. We decided we wanted to put it in a book form. And that really was what launched this whole brand that we’ve created. And there’s so many nuances, and I know we’ll get into them. But there’s so many nuances that just go into our fears of failure, rejection and hearing the word, no.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. And I know it goes beyond sales, but it’s interesting as you’re telling this story of Richard’s experience. It immediately makes me think of two everyday occurrences inside agencies. So on the agencies sell in a plethora of ways. But one of the biggest ways agencies should be selling is they’re execs or account managers who are the day-to-day point of contact for their clients are really the conduit to sales to an existing client. And so often I’ll hear AE say to either their production manager or their boss, “Oh, we can’t, we can’t tell the client’s going to cost that much.” There’s no way the client will sign off on that. And so then before ever showing the proposal to the client, they discount the pricing because they’ve decided that it’s not what’s really they should sell it for isn’t going to fly.

Andrea waltz:

Oh yeah. Absolutely. That is a huge component of Go for No, is this idea of not making assumptions of what people are going to decide to do and what they’re going to spend. Right? And we all typically what we do is, we give ourselves the no first without letting the client give us the no. And that is really the fundamental philosophy of go for no is, intentionally here no more often and you will get more yeses. And that does take a lot of courage. It does take a lot of confidence to get there to stand in your value and to know what you’re bringing to the party. And did not say no to yourself. To say, “Hey, we’re going to let the client tell us no. And then we’ll figure out, “All right, well, what of all of these suite of services do you not want?”” Rather than just, “Well, let’s just adjust the price down.”

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. And the other side of that is agency owners are typically the salesperson for their agencies. So they’re the ones out prospecting for new clients. And as you and I were chatting before I hit the record button, most of them are not born salespeople. They grew up in the agency system somehow, or they’re entrepreneurs who decided for whatever reason that owning an agency was the right thing for them to do. But most of them don’t have sales training. And so they’re very reticent salespeople. They really, really, really can come up with anything to do other than go sell. And I think a lot of it is that, they’ve been so successful in so many things they’ve done in their career, and sales by its very nature is a numbers game. And so you have to, to your point, get a lot of noes to get a yes.

Andrea waltz:

Yeah. I love that you just said that. It is a numbers game to a huge extent. And most people don’t like selling. I mean, that’s just the reality. Even professional salespeople, there’s a lot of aspects about selling that they don’t like. And because it’s a numbers game statistically just like baseball, you’re going to strike out far more than you’re going to get a hit. And that’s hard for anybody. And it’s especially hard I think for creatives. It’s hard for entrepreneurs. It’s hard for people who are artists because they take that rejection very personally. And so what happens is, in order to protect yourself from that rejection, we end up doing everything that we can in our power to avoid it. And then what we’re left with is just a business that’s floating along, maybe it’s just average or mediocre. And we want to figure out how to get business without doing that hard stuff, which is creating more of those go for no moments.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. So many agency owners, when I say to them, “Tell me about your business development efforts?” What they say, “Oh, it’s awesome. We don’t have to sell. We get everything by word of mouth and referral.” And my next question to them is always, “And are those the clients you would have gone after, if you had to go after clients? Are they really the right fit for your business? Or are you letting the referrals drive and shape the business that you happen to be running?” And a lot of times I get either, “I’m annoyed with you, Drew, for asking that question.” Or that throws them because you’re exactly right.

They’re avoiding going out, and so they take whatever’s left and whatever walks in the door. How do we begin to get more comfortable? Because I don’t think anybody is probably ever excited for getting noes. Although I know in the book you talk about that you and your husband now are pumped when you get noes, because there’s a yes at the other end somewhere. How does somebody start to get more comfortable with the idea of the no? How do we wrestle with that fear or that, as you say, taking it so personally? How do we move away from that?

Andrea waltz:

Yeah. There’s a lot of nuances to it. And one of the pieces is to work on the aspect of not taking it personally. That’s one piece. The other piece I think is, really to reprogram how you think about failure because noes are seen as failures, and in business we don’t want to think that we’re failing. But we like to say that with Go for No, you fail your way to success. And in order to do that, you have to make failure a good thing, not a bad thing. And you have to look at it in a whole new light. And for most of us, we’ve all been taught and trained to really see failure as a choice. In other words, and we have this model in our book, where the model is where you are in the middle, failures on one side, successes on the other side. And you are doing everything within your power to avoid failure and get to success, get to those yeses.

And what we say in the book is, the new model is really where you are on one side, the failure rejection, hearing those noeses in the middle, and the success you’re seeking is on the other side. Once you can embrace that, and I think that’s a big part of it and give yourself permission to fail. Then it’s not this big deal when you get those noes, but it takes work like anything. Because this is going against biology because our reptilian brains are wired to protect us from getting rejected. Because a rejection really, if you thinking about thousands of years ago, traveling in herds, well, if you are going to get kicked out of your tribe so to speak, that was not a good thing. You were probably not going to survive.

These days, we don’t have those issues, but our brain still thinks that one no means we’ll be sleeping under the freeway over past tomorrow. And that’s just not realistic, but our brains think that. They’re just trying to protect us. So it’s this constant battle of, “Thank you very much brain for protecting us against death. This, no, this rejection is not going to kill us.” And actually it’s the opposite. The more that we get out there, the more proposals that we send to the clients, to our ideal clients, the clients that we really want, the more success we’re going to have. Yes, there’s going to be some big failures, but the more success that’s out there for us.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. You Know what? I was even thinking about as you were talking, it’s not just in sales, I think about the creatives inside an agency. And sometimes agencies will be accused of phoning it in. They’re not really bringing big, bold ideas anymore. They’re bringing what the client expects. And the response from the creatives is often, “Well, every time we bring them a big idea, they don’t pick it. So why waste the time? I’m just going to give them what I think they want.” And I think your point exactly that is, sooner or later, you will get it a yes. I’m one of those bigger bolder ideas, but not if you don’t propose them, not if you don’t share those with the client. So it really weaves through the entire aspect of all aspects of the business.

Andrea waltz:

It really does. It really does. Because especially with creativity, creativity and innovation go hand in hand. And in order to innovate, you have to be failing. And you really have to be sharing actually some ideas for your client that your client will turn down. And sometimes that your client will get behind and then those ideas will fail. But that is just part of that innovation and that creative process that we have to embrace.

Drew McLellan:

So how do we change our mindset around failure? How do we push aside the reptilian brain and begin to understand and get comfortable, probably not excited about, but comfortable at least taking these risks and knowing that we’re going to fail?

Andrea waltz:

Yeah. Jack Canfield said a really interesting thing. He said, “Self-confidence is successfully surviving a risk. And the more you do that, the more your self-confidence gets built.” So it’s a cliché and I hate to say this, but cliches are cliches because they’re true and they work. And the cliche we always hear is, “How do you get rid of fear?” Well, the only way that you can do that is through action. And so one of the things that we teach is, first, create a no awareness. How many noes are you getting in your agency? Are you getting any? Are you so protective that you’re never hearing the client say no to you for an idea or a proposal? And if you are not, we suggest that you set what we call no goals. So set a goal for the number of noes that you are going to hear in a given day, week or month.

And that is proof of your activity. So if you’re not hearing noes, then it means that you need to be going after the clients that you want, the bigger scary clients, sharing those innovative proposals and start collecting and setting a goal for those noes. That is how you get into action. And then the more action that you’re in, the more confidence grows because you see that you survived that risk. And then you see that actually here and there, not every time. Remember this is as good as baseball is, we can hope for maybe three out of 10 but maybe even one out of 10. But the yeses are out there and you see, “Wow, that works.” And so gives you enough of that spark, enough of that confidence to keep trying.

Drew McLellan:

Well, I think baseball should be everybody’s religion anyway. So I like that we’re using that as our metric. But what was interesting as you were talking, I was thinking, we measure wins, but we don’t measure losses. We don’t measure noes. And I’m also inferring in some of the things you’re saying that you’re not talking about the no where a prospect says, “No, and if you ever contact me again, I’m going to call the police.” I’m just talking about either it’s a no, not now, or maybe they don’t respond at all. So it’s not the final no of the doors slammed in our face, but it really is all the noes between finally getting their attention and having the opportunity to actually talk to them. Because for a lot of agencies, they don’t even get to the proposal stage. It’s that they can’t get a prospect’s attention. And I guess being ignored as a no, isn’t it?

Andrea waltz:

Absolutely. And you’re so right. That is huge. Getting a no to a proposal is actually pretty special because it means that you went through the gauntlet of all of the things that you did to finally get there, and to be in the running to get that business. So in between there, sometimes there are 10 and 20 and even more noes than that. Outright noes like, “No, we went with someone else,” or just being ignored. And that just requires, you have to take creativity that you apply in campaigns and in the things that you’re creating and apply that to the sales process. So it’s, what interesting fun things can we do to engage this target market, this particular client to maybe get around this no? And really always think of it as it is. No, doesn’t mean never, no means not yet.

And eventually even if they’re working with someone else, they’re not going to maybe work with them forever. And so if you are positively persistent and pushing out a little nuggets of value here and there, and you are being creative, eventually those noes can turn into yeses. But sometimes it does take a tremendous amount of time that, that sales cycle can take years. I remember one client I had, and I knew they were just the ideal client for us and I really wanted to work with them. And it took nine years, nine years of just ignoring me. Many times I got no response, I got a couple noes and I just thought, “I’m going to be in business still. So I’m not going to give up on these people.” And then eventually I got a yes. There’s other people I’ve had on my list for still 15 years. Still haven’t worked with them, but I stay engaged because I know that at some point they might be ready.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. It’s interesting when I teach business development to agency owners. One of the things I talk about is you have no idea when that prospect is going to be ready. And so it could be a day or a decade, that’s your sales cycle. And you have to be present and top of mind on whatever magic day that is. So it’s like dollar cost averaging. We have to just keep plugging away making the investment, whether we get the yes today or not.

Andrea waltz:

Absolutely. And that persistence can be tough for people because I think what happens is, and this is just one of those things where it’s that bright, shiny object. So we think, “Well, it’s not going to be this company,” or, “It’s not going to be this client. So let’s just take all the time that we’ve invested, throw it away, toss to the side, and then go after someone new.” And really that invested time is, you’ve made an investment. So that’s not the one to just toss aside. If they are an ideal client, then by all means you have to stick with it.

Drew McLellan:

Right. You could be the one point of contact away, right? You could be the one email, the one bump into them at a trade show, the one whatever it is. The one helpful video on LinkedIn that gets them to go, “Oh, you know what? I’ve been meaning to call those guys.”

Andrea waltz:

Absolutely. And that happens all the time. I mean, I just see it all.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. So I know one of the things that you talk about that aligns well with what we talk about at AMI is this idea of, selling is really about serving. And when you think of it that way, it feels a whole lot less scary.

Andrea waltz:

Absolutely. I love to say, to sell is to serve. And the funny thing about how this relates to rejection though is, when I learned to go for no, and that story I told in the beginning about the the suit salesman. Richard selling the suits and getting the, no. I used to think that I was like the superstar sales person that I was so great and customers love me because, I always came at things from a surface perspective and I was a good salesperson. But I realized that I didn’t like to hear the word, no. And so what I did though is, I used that as this justification for, “Well, I’m serving them.”

So yes, I don’t show them products and services that I think they’ll need because it’s serving. What it really was doing Drew was, it was really protecting me. And it was my ego that I didn’t want to get that no, but I housed it in this frame work of, “Oh no, I’m doing it in the customer’s best interest.” Usually we’re not, we’re doing it in our best interest because we think, “Well, this’ll be easier. This will go smoother. They won’t think I’m pushy.” And we make all these excuses. That’s not the way to serve. The way to serve is, “Here are all your options. Here’s what I think you should go with, but you get to choose.”

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. It was interesting. I can’t even remember where I was reading it. But I was reading something and it was talking about one of the mistakes that we make as salespeople. And everybody is a sales person. I don’t care what you do for a living. But the mistake we make when we go to offer a client or a prospect something new, is that we self-select. So we don’t really treat them with the respect as an adult who is capable of making decisions. We almost treat them like a child where we’re deciding what’s best for them. “Oh, you know what? They haven’t had any vegetables today. So I’m not going to give them a plethora of dinner choices. I’m just going to make them eat the green beans.” And that resonated with me because I think a lot of times to your point, we make decisions on the client’s behalf and probably rob both the client and our agency of opportunity.

Andrea waltz:

Absolutely. And those are what we call, go for no moments. Those are the moments where you have to have the decision to put your own self-interest aside and share everything that you can share and face that potential rejection or what have you. And that takes a lot of courage and it takes a lot of practice. That’s why setting no goals is fun because you can see how many noes that you can collect in a week, and challenge yourself to get an activity. And then that’s where those interesting things happen in your business.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. I know you have five different failure levels. So I want to dig into those. But first let’s take a quick break. Thanks for tuning in to Build a Better Agency. I just wanted to take a quick second and remind you that throughout the year, AMI offers workshops for agency owners, agency leaders, and account executives. So if you head over to the AMI website, and you check out under the training tab, you’re going to find a calendar of all of the workshops we offer throughout the year. We cover quite a wide variety of topics, everything from BizDev to creating a content machine for your agency to making sure that you are running your business based on the best financial metrics and dashboards that you can. We also have a workshop on agency owner management hacks. All the best practices that agency owners are using to run their businesses well and profitably. And of course, you’re always going to find our account executive bootcamp and our advanced AE bootcamp. So go ahead and check it out on the website. And hopefully one of those will meet a need for you and your agency. And we’ll see you soon. Let’s get back to the episode.

All right. We are back and much to your discomfort, I’m sure we’re talking about failure. And right before the break, I had mentioned to Andrea that I know in the book and in the things that she and her husband teach, they have five failure levels. So can you walk us through those so we can recognize them and why it’s important to know the different levels?

Andrea waltz:

Sure, sure. Well, again, as I said earlier in our interview, the idea of failure is so key to this process because if you start going for no and you’re getting some noes and you think, “Well, this is horrible. This is not going the way I want.” And you think that the idea is to turn around and go back the other direction, no. It is to stick to the path. So the failure levels give you this grounding foundation. And the first level is the ability to fail. It’s where we all start. We all have the ability to fail. And as kids, we get very good at failure. We actually embrace it. We don’t mind it. We don’t mind falling down and making fools of ourselves. We will do anything that we have to do to learn how to ride a bike and fall down in front of other kids, because there’s this fabulous goal at the end and we just don’t care.

That’s the childhood tenacity that we need to get back. And that brings us to level two, which is the willingness to fail. And that is to say, “All right. Well, this sounds interesting. I guess I’m willing to hear no. I guess I’m willing to fail.” And a lot of interesting things can happen in your business if you get to this level, because it is where you get that child like tenacity back. Level three though, is very powerful, and that is the wanting this to fail. And that is, I’ll tell you a really interesting story. Friend of ours named Mike, he sold the professional development seminar services, and he said no goal one week to get 10 noes. And he found himself on Friday afternoon having nine noes for the week.

And so it was late in the afternoon and he thought, “Well gosh, if I could just get this one, no, I’ll have my 10. I can celebrate. I will get 10 noes. This is great.” And he had a guy that he had been calling on for a while and he thought, “Well, I’ll just give this one guy a call because he always tells me no one puts me off. So I’ll call him, I’ll get my no and I’ll be done.” So he calls the guy and the guy says, “Mike, I’m so glad you called. I was just thinking about you.”

Drew McLellan:

Oh no.

Andrea waltz:

Exactly. He said, “Yeah, I’m actually ready to get started. So go ahead and sign me up.” And Mike said, “Andrea, I didn’t know to be excited or to be frustrated because I didn’t get that last no.” He actually ended up getting a yes. That’s that wanting yes, or you go to bed and you say, “Did I push? Did I risk? Did I get a no today?” And very powerful because that is the demonstration that you are inaction, that is showing your activity is getting those noes and yeses. Level four is I think my favorite, especially for agency owners. And this is failing bigger and failing faster. And so failing bigger is going after those big fish and not being afraid that not letting your self worth or self esteem talk you out of going after these clients and saying, “Hey, you guys don’t deserve this. You’re not big enough. You don’t have enough awards.”

All of the things that people come up with, this is this, going after the big no, the big fish. Because a no we always say, “No is a no is a no. So if you’re going to get a no, maybe do it from a really big worthwhile potential prospect and get them fast. Move through these things faster than you’re doing now. And then level five is failing exponentially. And that is team failure, that is leading people. If you have people that are out there networking and whether it’s cold calling or just producing content, it’s let’s all do the go for no together. Let’s all fail together. If individual failure leads to success, then team failure must lead to success. And so that is that piece of it.

Drew McLellan:

That’s a great point, this whole idea of team failures. So if I’m listening and I’m an agency owner, which I am. I am both listening and an agency owner, how do I infuse this through the culture of my agency? How do I make it not only okay to fail, but a point of celebration for my team?

Andrea waltz:

Well, you just absolutely almost answered the question through the asking of the question, that was perfect. The making the okay first of all. So it’s really changing the culture is how you communicate about the noes that you’re getting. So there’s this knee-jerk reaction that we all have, and it’s understandable. You want a client and you finally hear back and it’s a no, and everybody is like this collective ag sigh, “Oh man,” right?

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Andrea waltz:

And in that moment, it’s changing your reaction and saying, “Okay. Hey, we just got to no towards our collective no goal. Let’s shake this off. Let’s let’s make the next move. What do we have next on the docket?” And really moving quickly onto the next. There’s a mantra I love called, some will, some won’t; so what—someone’s waiting. And it’s embracing that mantra. I think that was Jack Canfield as well. Embracing that mantra and not being that person who you’ve got to be the leader and say, “No, we’re okay with no. We celebrate, no. We’re not going to be depressed or deflated or let no slow us down. We’re actually going to propel even faster when we get those noes.”

And that requires you being positive in those moments instead of negative. And instead of getting frustrated and angry or being depressed, you turn it around so that the culture is people don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed or, “Oh man, this isn’t good.” It’s this culture of innovation. Silicon Valley does a great job of this, right? In terms of their innovation related to those failures and things that don’t work, and constantly innovating their products constantly failing and then having a big success eventually, they have to stay up and positive through those failures. Otherwise, they might as well just close shop and give up, because it’s just too painful.

Drew McLellan:

Well, I think they live by the mantra fail faster, something you said earlier, which is, “You know what? Let’s get out there and test it and see what doesn’t work so we can make modifications.” And every time we make a modification, we get closer to the perfect that we’re trying to achieve.

Andrea waltz:

Absolutely. Yeah. And so that celebration and that making failure okay. I mean, you have to, I think I said this earlier, give yourself permission to fail. You almost have to reparent yourself and say, “Okay, if I was a kid, would I yell at a kid for just falling off their bike when they first start writing?” No, we all accept it and actually encourage it and say, “Okay, you can do this, you can do this.” So we have to do the same for ourselves and also our team. They have to know that it’s okay.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. The bike analogy is a great one because you’re right. If your kid was trying to learn how to ride their bike and they fell, you would be like, “Oh, that was a great try and good job. And you got three inches further than the last time.” And we’re all up with people when it’s our kids. So we need to be the same way, we need to have that same mindset. And I think sometimes we forget that inside our own shops is that, we have to encourage the effort, not necessarily just the result.

Andrea waltz:

Absolutely. It’s managing that activity and not just the result and the outcome.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Earlier on you talked about this idea of not taking the no, personally. There are some ways that we can toughen up or get a thicker skin or whatever the cliche around that. But how do we get…? We take our work so personally, and I don’t think this is true of just agencies, but I know it is true in agencies. Whether we’re the ones who are creating it. When I started in my career, I started out as a copywriter. And I was 24 and thought every word I wrote was a pearl of wisdom of course. And I can remember getting back from my first job, the red lines on my copy and, oh my God, it just felt like they were cutting me to the quick. So I get that it’s very personal for us. How do we learn how to not make it so personal?

Andrea waltz:

Yeah. It is so personal and it almost doesn’t matter. I’ve seen so many and interviewed so many different people on this. People who sell things that are completely unrelated to them. I mean, you look at somebody who sells cars, they have nothing to do with building the car. They have nothing to do with the design. They shouldn’t take it personally at all, but still they do. You look at an agency or writers or artists of any kind, “This is your work. This is almost who you are.” It is tough to not look for validation of what you’re doing from those yeses, or noes. You can’t look to that outside validation. Now that’s easier said than done. One of the great things that I have read that deals with this is a book called the four agreements. And one of the four agreements is about not taking it personally.

And I’ve taken that and integrated it into the things that we teach with Go for No. And one of those things is to not just try to let those noes or those rejections slough off your skin easily, but to really embrace the rejection and the other people’s opinion. And the example I give Drew is, if you and I were walking down the street and we saw a woman coming towards us in a white dress covered with bright red cherries, and maybe she has a bright red floppy hat and bright red shoes. And I said, “Oh my gosh, that woman looks hideous. That is a horrible dress.” And maybe I even told her, maybe I was feeling particularly mean and said, “Wow, that’s horrible. Looks horrible on you.” And you though looked at the same outfit and said, “Oh my gosh, that looks amazing. It looks fabulous. You look great.”

So the question is, who should she believe? And this is what demonstrates the fact that you and I, neither one of us is we’re right. Whoever is right in this scenario is who she chooses to believe. So that’s the one thing, but you and I have our opinions based on our backgrounds, our beliefs, our history, our family-

Drew McLellan:

Your hate of cherries.

Andrea waltz:

Your hate of cherries, your early childhood programming. All of these things goes into us finally making a determination of what we like. And so I say, embrace the people that, embrace the fact that they don’t like it and learn to really send love and to feel empowered by that because it’s that part who that person is. And that really is not about you at all, it’s completely about the other person.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. And you’re right. It’s one of those things that it makes perfect logical sense. But when we take a stab to the hardest, it is hard. And I think that part of it is just the more often it happens, the less it can possibly impact you. I mean, I think for me personally, that was how I got over being redlined as a young writer was it happened every single time. And after a while it was like, “Oh, I can look at this as a learning opportunity, but this is not really aa commentary on my ability as a writer.” Is just that I miss details or I didn’t emphasize something right. And I can use this to get better and smarter, which is what I sought to do.

Andrea waltz:

Absolutely. I love that you brought up the learning. And one of the things, and this has to do I think with rejection. There’s a saying that is, numb yourself to know. And how you do that really is, is over time is upping your quantity. So if you are doing something and you only get rejected every now and then, then yeah, they tend to sting more. When you’re getting rejected a lot, you just kind of… Perfect analogy is actors who go audition after audition, after audition, and they’re constantly rejected. Yeses are so few and far between, and then usually even if it’s a yes, it’s not the ultimate yes. It’s, “Call back, call back, call back,” and then finally you get the final no. You didn’t get picked. So the more you do it, the better that you get.

And so that makes the case for upping that quantity. Funny thing though, one of the things I love to do, and to point out to people is, you go on Goodreads or amazon.com and look at some of the reviews. I mean, they are hysterical. I’ve heard an article recently about some of the reviews that people have left on the world’s greatest books. Harper Lee’s book and Herman Melville and F. Scott Fitzgerald and even the Diary of Anne Frank. People complaining that it was like a downer, that it was just a depressing book. I’m like, “Really? Are you kidding me?” It’s so funny just to see how sometimes people just that rejection is everywhere and you go like, “Okay, I’m not going to feel this bad.”

Drew McLellan:

Right. “If they’re going to take a shot at her, then maybe I’m okay.”

Andrea waltz:

Seriosly.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. So as you were talking, I was thinking about so much of this is habit. And the more it becomes just a part of your daily experience, the less abnormal. And when you were talking about the acting analogy, I think part of the reason why they can endure that is because they expect it. So they’re not going into every audition thinking, “I’m going to get every role that I audition for.” They go in knowing that nine times out of 10, they’re going to get rejected. And I think just even changing your mindset to expect the rejection or the no, normalizes it in a way.

Andrea waltz:

Yeah. Your expectations are really big. And there’s another little piece to this, which is interesting and I’ll bring this up. Which is, this whole idea of law of attraction. And that we want to go into meetings and we want to go into really everything that we do with this positive, the yeses are coming at it too, right? We want to be positive. And I always like to say that, we take the potential no and we make what is a negative reality into the most empowering, most positive way that we can with being realistic. And so what you’re saying is exactly that, be realistic. Those are your expectations. So I don’t want anyone to go in and sometimes people say, “So you want me to go in, and you want me to just be like, “Literally going for no.”” Well no, you’re not trying to sabotage. You’re not trying to do a horrible job. You’re not lying to get to no. And you don’t even necessarily have to expect that you’re going to get a no.

But what you do have to do is accept that it could be a no. And I think that acceptance hopefully gives you some peace to say, “It could be, I will accept it.” But you can go in with that positive mindset that, “Hey, law of attraction, great things are coming my way, but I accept whatever the outcome is.” The key is, get into activity and not operate in a place that is, “I’m going to avoid rejection. I’m going to avoid failure. I’m going to avoid all these horrible things, and protect and hope that just enough comes in. That the phone rings just enough and we’ll take what we get. And then we’ll rationalize and say, “Well, this is exactly what we wanted,”” when it probably isn’t.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Such a great point. I know one of the big points that you guys make is that, if a business or a professional is feeling stuck, like they’re not growing. That a lot of times that, that growth is actually being sabotaged by fear. So can you talk a little bit about that?

Andrea waltz:

Yeah. And this goes back to that whole reptilian brain. And I think that when we do fear something, we never give ourselves a chance to find out how good we can really be because we’re so fearful of that outcome. And I believe that that is rooted in fear of failure. And sometimes it has to do with fear of what other people think. But even fear of success which I bet for a lot of agencies, there’s an idea of fear success, and we’re going to get so big and we’re going to hire more people, and we’re going to have need bigger offices. And the underlying fear is, “Well, can I handle this?” And then even worse, “What if it crumbles because I’m not capable of handling this? And it will crumble and I will still be living under the freeway overpass no matter how successful I get.”

So that fear of success always, for me, comes back down to fear of failure because what if you get it. Quote, “get it all and then you lose it all.” That’s almost more painful. I’d rather just not lose it all. I’d rather just be complacent and stay right here and be safe and comfortable. So that pushing out of your comfort zone and taking risks is how we constantly battle that fear.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Such a great point. Well, this is a hot topic and this is so core to our ability to be successful for us, for our ability to grow and nurture successful teammates and employees. And it all boils down to having the courage to step out, take the risk and know that not everybody is ready when you’re ready. And I think a lot of it is that, right? It’s just, they’re just not ready, or they’re not in a position to hire you today because as you said, maybe they’re in a long-term contract with someone else. But three years from now, when that contract comes up, they’re going to be like, “Oh, I know who I need to call.” See, you just never know. But the only way to put yourself into the opportunity is to take the risks today.

Andrea waltz:

Absolutely. And when you do take the risks, and when you do show that courage and you demonstrate even creative marketing. Even when you do something wild and you say, “Let’s go for no. Let’s do something crazy for the 10 clients that we really, really want. Let’s do something wild and crazy.” That demonstrates your brand. It shows who you guys are. And if the clients that look at you and say, “Wow, they were able to do this crazy marketing thing that was risky and courageous. I’m going to hire them just because of that.

Just because of who they are and what they’re out there demonstrating.” So you can go for no, not just because you want to get some sales and build your business, but it’s what does it demonstrating to the world out there so that people start to associate your agency with, “Wow. Yeah. Those people are different. Those people are unique. Those people have courage. They try stuff.” Because that, I think is who people want to work with today.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. It’s such a great point. I mean, it really is about exuding the confidence that you are worthy of the work you’re trying to get them to hire you to do. And that comes from a place of courage and confidence, not a trepidation or fear.

Andrea waltz:

Absolutely. I mean, no doubt that clients want people, they want to work with people who seem like they… Technically yes, you want somebody who technically knows what they’re doing, but they want somebody that has that confidence because they don’t have the confidence. They’re looking for you like, “Help us. We need somebody who’s confident and bold.” And so if you’re out there doing those bold things, that is just leading by example.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. It’s such a great point. This has been an awesome conversation. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise and for reframing all of this for us. It has been super helpful.

Andrea waltz:

I love doing it with you Drew. Thank you.

Drew McLellan:

So any parting words for the audience? Anything that, I mean last kernels of wisdom that I should have asked you about that maybe I missed?

Andrea waltz:

Oh, one of the things I love to tell people is just get used to practicing asking. Like have fun with it. Make it a game so you can do it in business. So you can do it in personal life. You can check into a hotel and ask for an upgrade on a room and see what happens. That’s executing on those go for no moments. So I just encourage people to just practice that skill of asking so that, that emboldens you and helps build your courage.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Such a great point. Thanks so much for being with us. Hey, if folks want to learn more about the book or about the work that you guys do around all of this, what’s the best place for them to track you down?

Andrea waltz:

Well, we’re well-branded. So everything is Go for No. And it’s G-O-F-O-R-N-O. So come to the website, get signed up for the motivation that we send out. Get on Facebook, I post daily motivation there. So we’re all over the place.

Drew McLellan:

Awesome. Thanks so much. All right, guys, this wraps up another episode of Build a Better Agency. As always, here’s my kick in the pants. This was action packed conversation. Lots of ideas of ways for you to step over that fear and get into the no zone of asking more often and being more bold about it, and accepting that you’re not always going to get a yes. So please take some of this, some little nugget that you got out of today’s interview and put it into play. And honestly, even if you don’t do this for yourself, you owe it to your team to make your work environment a place where their willingness to take risks, their willingness to stick their noes into something that maybe is not their depth of expertise. Or be a little bolder with creative or a strategy or something.

You’ve got to create an environment where that is the norm. And that when it fails, because you know it’s going to sometimes, that you were the very first one to slap them on the back and say, “I’m so glad you tried that. Thank you. We learned a lot from that.” Whatever it takes, use that analogy. I love the analogy that Andrea gave us of how we would treat our kids if they were learning how to ride a bike. We need to treat our employees and ourselves with that same kindness and encouragement. Otherwise, why would anybody take a risk? And you know that our clients are looking for us to do that. So please, put this into action. And I would love to hear what you’re doing around this and how it’s working for you.

I will be back next week with another guest who’s going to ask you to think a little differently about your business. In the meantime, if you’re trying to track me down, you can find me at drewatagencymanagementinstitute.com. Don’t forget, we still are doing those monthly podcast giveaways. So if you have not gone to agencymanagementinstitute.com/podcast giveaway and signed up, then I can’t give you a free book or a free course or all the other free stuff we give you. So the only thing that’s in the way of you winning something is, you showing up in signing up. So once you’ve signed up, you’re there for good. So you don’t have to keep doing it. So head over there and sign up so we can give you a way some of the smarts that our guests share with us.

So I’ll see you next week. Talk to you soon. Thanks for spending some time with us. Visit our website to learn about our workshops, owner peer groups, and download our salary and benefits survey. Be sure you also sign up for our free podcast giveaways at agencymanagementinstitute.com/podcast giveaway.