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October 25, 2007

Don't Be Afraid of "No."

Jm_108175_006 I was watching the NBC show Journeyman (website) on Monday, and the main characters, a married couple, were having a discussion about the need for the father to tell his son that he sometimes gets unexpectedly thrust back in time.

The father didn't think the a kid of 7 years old would understand (I know, I know... Go figure), but the wife, initially having had trouble believing it herself, deftly pointed out, "Being 7 might actually help."

How many times have you brought up an idea in a meeting where the person with the closest tie to the client tried to stifle the idea by saying, "They won't consider that," or "They won't pay for that?"

How many times have you had an idea shut down because it wasn't in the scope of the project?

How many times have you accepted that answer and settled for mediocrity?

Even worse, how many times have you kept those ideas to yourself in anticipation of being told it can't be done, or because it wasn't in your area of expertise?

When you share your ideas, even if it's not likely to be implemented then, it can be a catalyst for change. Innovative ideas, however implausible, get people thinking (or, the right people anyway). Be warned, though: when you share your ideas, you lose control of them. They in effect become promiscuous. You may get credit for them when they are implemented elsewhere. You may not. But the best thing that can happen, if it really is a good idea, is for it to be implemented.

"You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit." - Harry S. Truman

When you have an idea, share it like you're 7 years old. Don't be afraid to believe in it with a child-like fancy. Explore. Create. Experiment. But if you are afraid of rejection, you'll never know accomplishment.

"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat." - Teddy Roosevelt

- Cam Beck


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Thanks for inspiring me. It teaches me to share more of me and not to be afraid of being rejected. It shows that we should take rejection in positive way that we should take it as a challenge and to motivate us to do better.

Love & Gratitude,
Think Simple. Be Decisive


As always, excellent thinking. The person who never hears no or never makes a mistake isn't learning and growing as fast as those who risk being told no or making a mistake.

Reminds me of what Tom Kelley points out as the "Devil's Advocate" in The Ten Faces of Innovation. It is essential that people that work on a business put their perceived constraints aside on a daily basis.

Cam - what a great lead in - memorable and incorporates the lesson throughout - love the quotes, too.

I like the idea of not only letting the 7-year-old hear it, but of sharing it like you're 7, yourself - some really good insight there.

Usually, cautions like that reflect the shortcomings or concerns of the person giving the caution, not the person you want to make the remark, or present the question, to. So, I agree, go for it, and let the customer say no to a well-intended proposal, not your own colleagues.

Thanks for a great idea and a great presentation.

Tina - Thank you so much for the generous comment. I love the thought you have to use every opportunity life gives us to improve.

Lewis - Sometimes the mistake is with the person who says "no," too, but we ought not let that get us down! :)

John - Back when I was reading "The Art of Innovation" about a year ago, I saw that title and was tempted to buy it. While reading the reviews, I noticed something in there about the Devil's Advocate, and I admit it was on my mind when I wrote this. Interesting you picked up on that connection. :)

Jim - In line with your point and love of the quotes, I was very close to including this gem from Thomas Jefferson:

"I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Fear that paralyzes us from doing good is a form of tyranny, and thus I thought the quote to be fitting, but I decided not to overdo quotes from dead presidents. :)

Cam ... I love "share it like you were seven". Brilliant!

For InterstingSouth I am doing a presentation next month on looking through the eyes of a child (using digital photos taken by my 4 year old daughter). This is great thinking in line with that!

Gav - Sounds like a great presentation... Will you be putting it on SlideShare or something like it when you're done?

Creative Pitch Cycle

Concept #1
You spent three days working on it - it's really awesome. I'm sure the client will love it.

Concept #2
You spend a day or so working on it - it's pretty decent. I'm sure they'll go for it just in case the other isnt quite there.

Concept #3
You spent five minutes on it - gah its just there to fill pitch space.


Client hates #1 and #2 and is in love with #3 and is a winner. Apparently you experimented with 1 and 2 so much that all the wacky ideas got out of your system and 3 was apparently bang on the spot.

Cam, I think the whole evening of presentations is being filmed ... so I am sure it will be available.

Abbas - LOL! In the past I sometimes put in a crummy version just to help the client make a decision in their best interests, but they surprised me so often that I had to stop doing that. :)

Gav - Is that a commitment on your part? :)

A ha! I found it! I love this post, Cam. Need it to explain something to a colleague!

A ha! I found it! I love this post, Cam. Need it to explain something to a colleague!

A ha! I found it! I love this post, Cam. Need it to explain something to a colleague!

A ha! I found it! I love this post, Cam. Need it to explain something to a colleague!

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