Mark Suster has a great post on saying No to meetings.
The problem is that the scarcest resource in any entrepreneur’s life is your time. Yet we all feel guilty not doling out time for anybody who asks – especially if we were introduced. I know! I feel the same way. I’m trying to embrace my inner “NO” a little more in my life. One simply can’t take every meeting.
His advice is, in essence, to be honest about the lack of time. When I read the post this morning, I thought of the gift Seth Godin gave me years ago when I was struggling with the same issue…too many meeting requests and not enough time. His gift?
Just say, “I wish I could but I can’t.” Especially when you really wish you could.
The other day, for about the hundreth time this year, I found myself thinking of that little gift when working with a client. Only this time, what the client needed to say No to wasn’t another meeting. It was chasing another bright shiny object, a red rubber ball, another idea.
“What would happen,” I asked him, “if you only had one product to focus on?”
He paused. Then smiled. “We’d ship on time.”
I smiled back.
Saying No to the bright shiny object of yet another idea is terribly powerful. In fact, I often argue, it releases you from competing with yourself, from trying to out do yourself with each new idea.
We’re all a little like Dug the dog in Up. Right in the middle of a sentence, SQUIRREL, we’re distracted by some other thing to do, some other notion, some memory from the past, some idea about the future, some magical silver bullet that will make it all alright. Saying No to the squirrels is liberating.
I have to practice saying No all the time. Several weeks, after Fred Wilson wrote a post about me, I had to explain to a potential client that, at that moment, I was unable to take on more clients. He said, “It must be nice to be able to say No to clients.”
Nice? No. It’s hard. In part because I worry some day I might struggle to find clients. But mostly it’s hard because I really wish I could help but unfortunately I can’t.
PS. Boy howdy I must be into link baiting today…Mark, Seth, and Fred…all I need to add is a link to Brad Feld and I’ll have hit for the cycle.