VOICES: Make “No” Your Bitch
Posted by Tom Ritchie on March 20th, 2011
Paul Lavoie, named by AdAge’s Creativity magazine among the 50 most influential creative minds of the last 20 years, and the youngest inductee to the Marketing Hall of Legends, is Chairman and Founder of TAXI, an integrated marketing agency with seven offices in North America and Europe. TAXI has just published DOUBT: Unconventional Thinking from the World’s Greatest Shit Disturber. Read more and find retailers at doubttheconventional.com, or purchase online at Amazon.com.
From the internal “no” that keeps us from exploring possible solutions to the external “no’s” we encounter as our ideas wend through client bureaucracies and focus groups, accepting the fact that “no” is part of the creative ritual is essential. In fact, too few “no’s” means we should be worried: when ideas are met with little resistance, they’re probably docile and expected.
A real player isn’t afraid to take risks to achieve success. Imagine the resistance Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos must have encountered within his own ranks when he declared that the book, Amazon’s (very successful) core offering, was washed up. “It’s had a great 500-year run,” he claimed, as he promoted the Kindle electronic reader. Can you hear the “no” bells going off? For Bezos, rallying support came from encouraging adversaries to think beyond the next quarter’s sales and focus instead on the human benefit. The Kindle would make content that was previously inaccessible easily available. The Kindle sold 2.5 million units in its first year, a figure that is expected to double in 2011. Amazon took a huge risk, and it paid off. The book may be closing a chapter, but thanks to Amazon, the printed word has a brand new lease on life.
“No” can be discouraging, or it can be a cue that you are on to something great. Challenging “no” starts with eliminating the hesitation in your own inner voice, then with suspending your ego and understanding the root of the resistance from others. If you really want to affect your world and make a difference you cannot be afraid of “no.” Embrace “no” and then make it your bitch.