My default answer to everything is no.
Do you want to meet for coffee? No.
Are you able to speak at this conference? No.
Can you give me advice on my product? No.
Will you be an advisor to my company? No.
I’m not saying I won’t do any of these things. I am actively doing all of them. But if anyone asks me to do something, my starting point is no.
My starting point used to be yes to everything. I spoke at conferences I wasn’t interested in. I reviewed products and pitch decks that were for companies I had zero influence on or stake in. I would drive across town to meet someone for coffee.
Anytime someone asked me to do something my answer was yes. I gave away my yes and my attention freely to anyone who asked for it.
I’m tired of that. I spent so much time on boring things with boring people doing boring work. I have enough boring work in my life. I don’t need more of it. I don’t want more of it.
So, my default is no. People have to work for the yes. Maybe not people so much as opportunities. Opportunities have to earn my attention. I evaluate opportunities as they come up and if its interesting, maybe I will say yes. But, I usually just say no.
I was asked to speak at a FinTech conference recently. It was in Las Vegas. Or maybe Silicon Valley, I don’t remember. But it was easy to decide whether or not I wanted to fly there and put together an hourlong talk on some boring topic in FinTech. I just said no. If the conference was on juggling as a form of meditation in downtown San Diego I would have been all over that. But, FinTech in Vegas or SV? No thank you.
I heard Derek Sivers on a podcast say that if something isn’t a hell yes it should be a no. Thats not bad advice. Another tool he uses is he rates the opportunity on a scale of 1 to 10. But he doesn’t use 7. An 8 is good. A 6 isn’t. But 7, well that is just a maybe. And a maybe isn’t helpful.
If it isn’t hell yes, then its a no.
For me, everything is a no. But I can always upgrade to a yes.