'No' Is A Complete Sentence

Photo by    Cameron Clark

Photo by Cameron Clark

As a professional speaker, I am sometimes involved in conversations that go something like this:

"Hi, we’d like you to speak on creatives charging what they’re worth."
"Okay, my fee is $X."
"Oh, we’re not paying speakers."

Entrepreneurs in every creative field run into similar situations: they are asked to plan a destination wedding for publicity, or produce an event for charity, or to design and provide stationery goods for a conference. At times it makes sense to say yes to working for free

Other times, you need to say no. 

Where we get tripped up – and I see this across cultures – is that we (or the people asking) tend to view saying "no" as us being ungrateful for the opportunity. If we want to thrive, then we cannot allow ourselves to buy into the lie that it is never okay to say no.

  • Saying no does not make you ungrateful.

  • Saying no does not make you disloyal.

  • Saying no does not make you arrogant.

  • Saying no does not mean you are not generous.

  • Saying no does not mean you don't value community.

  • Saying no does not mean you don’t consider it an honor to be asked.

  • Saying no simply means the opportunity doesn’t fit with your priorities in this season of your life and/or career.

You can say no to press opportunities that don’t position your brand in a positive way (ex: reality television shows that make you look crazy and your clients like bride- or groom-zillas).

You can say no to events that cause you to miss a family member’s birthday or milestone celebration.

You can say no to opportunities that don’t help you contribute financially to your family’s goals.

You can say no to projects that will suck the life out of yourself and your team.

"No" is a complete sentence. If you want your business to grow and be better, learn how to remove any shame either yourself or others try to attach to you saying no. 

Originally published March 2017

On Loyalty and Deciding Who To Listen To

Too many people confuse loyal people with people who only give 100% positive feedback.

The problem with sycophants is that as soon as popular opinion changes, so does their "loyalty."

The people who are there for you when others would rather gossip, who push you to be better without turning themselves into a doormat, who speak the truth with kindness even if it's not what you want to hear — those are the people worth listening to.

Originally published August 2013

The Best Way To Unblock Your Creativity

Is it possible to be creative while holding a grudge or two? Of course.

Want your creativity to increase exponentially? Let those grudges go.

The most creative people — the people who have a new idea a minute — have cultivated the habit of seeing the world as it could be and, more importantly, the habit of seeing people as they could be. They believe in untapped potential, both for themselves and others, and believe that people have the capacity to change.

Holding a grudge keeps you from all this.

Grudges block gratitude because they are poison, never allowing a perspective of thankfulness to take root.

The act of holding a grudge requires taking the posture of moral superiority, never allowing you to truly collaborate — even with people you're not upset with.

People who hold grudges settle for dissolving relationships rather than doing the harder — but more rewarding — work of communication and conflict resolution.

Without the open-mindedness required to notice the silver lining in any situation, and without a community encouraging healthy habits, your creativity will always be stifled. You can still have enough creativity to get by, sure, but you will never have the degree of creativity that empowers you to get ahead and stay there.

Set healthy boundaries, but don't confuse a grudge with a boundary. Grudges may punish the other person to some degree, but they always — without fail — end up hurting you more.

Originally published June 2015