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Guest Column: The Positive Power of No

Author: Charles Root
March, 2016 Issue

One of my personal goals for 2016 is to get more “No”s.

What is it about “No” that worries everyone (including me)? Business writer and motivational speaker Tom Peters said, “Test fast, fail fast, adjust faster.” How much more business could we all do if we weren’t afraid of “No”? It’s not only a numbers game—although, statistically, the more you hear “No,” the closer you come to a “Yes.” With an understanding of why someone said “No,” you can start to refine your message to be more clear and understandable so that maybe next time, you’ll hear “Yes.” One of my personal goals for 2016 is to get more “No”s.
Where do we usually fall short? At times, for me, it’s that I think I can wing it and get great results. In reality, being prepared is critical. You may have a new idea that’s very clear in your mind, but it may not be clear to others. New thinking takes time to mature. Ideas need to be brought out, shown off and talked about to get clarity and outside input. This is another issue with “No”: You’re afraid of hearing objections to your idea. But sharing your thoughts is the only way to bring clarity to the message. Being afraid lets it die in the bud without a chance to bloom.
Let’s make 2016 a great year with more creative ideas, brought to fruition with action and more businesses created as a result. Start talking about your idea with someone who’s supportive before you take it into the world. Conversation and visualization bring out issues that you may have missed or hadn’t yet considered. As you widen the circle and share with more people, your narrowed focus may broaden, which will result in seeking out even more opinions. Each person will add perspective as well as additional solutions.
Think complex versus complicated. In the early industrial age, things were very complicated, but soon they were solved by relatively simple linear solutions (such as Henry Ford’s production line, which added a new part at each station, ending with a new car). Today, we have much more complexity in all aspects of business, which requires different thinking and varied solutions. There’s infinite brain power on our planet, and when we all focus our minds on the positive and create workable solutions, we all win.
I believe in business and the good it can do in the world. Go to any Chamber of Commerce meeting, and you’ll hear the good stuff. Go to Friedman’s Home improvement or La Tortilla Factory and see the outstanding value each of these families has created. It wasn’t easy—it still isn’t—but they keep forging ahead. Now imagine what your business would look like in its third or fourth generation: no start up costs, no educating the community about who you are, just building further for the next three to four generations. That’s leadership. As Tom Peters once said, “Leaders don’t create followers, they create leaders.”
Each business that succeeds makes it easier to retain employees and create better products and services, which increase chances for success. Think of an exponential curve, which stays relatively flat for a long time before it shoots up vertically. A new business can take a long time to build momentum; to continue the momentum, we must continue to build new ideas and manage success.
Many of us try to do it all ourselves—and self-reliance is good. But how much more could we do together? Leaders helping leaders, building mentorships that create future leaders. Back to Peters: “Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.”
Let’s make 2016 our best year yet and forget about worrying about “No.”
“Yes” sounds much better. What do you think?
Chuck Root has been a financial advisor in Santa Rosa for more than 30 years. He’s currently managing director of Double Eagle Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. His specialty is business succession planning and family legacies. Contact him at (707) 576-1313 or


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