NO NO NO When your default answer is no you are losing out

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

It’s easy to find reasons to say no. In fact, some people don’t even look for reasons. That’s their default answer to anything new.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t say no to some things. I’ve taken pleasure in having learned when to say no and walk from a deal. But, yeses are required in digital transformation from time to time.

An example from the road:

American Airlines offered $800 vouchers to take a later flight due to this one being oversold. Mind you that’s only for missing the last leg of a three-leg Europe return trip. For even more context: The whole trip cost $500 in business. I used a systemwide upgrade for that.

So the offer is made. And the discussion immediate decision goes to no. We can’t take a later flight and here are 4,425 reasons. Just top of mind.

When we aren’t the argumentative type or the naysayer is a superior that might be the end of that discussion.

But we just left money on the table. In fact, that trip would have made us money now. At least the airfare portion.

That’s just one example but the examples in corporate America go on.

Should we do this new thing?


Why not?

Too risky/I don’t want to/no time/whatever

Instead of jumping to a loud NO, why not think about it. Think about the goals. Of course when there are competing goals that’s an issue and a story for another day.

Another example from the road:

I was making a 28-hour swing through Toronto – mainly to burn some miles and then to catch a Major League Baseball game.

Should I – or could I – make that trip without taking any luggage?

No. Of course not.

My decision was made easier when I realized that only super small bags could be taken into Rogers Centre. I don’t even have a bag of that size.

I was landing just in time to go downtown and eat and head to the game. No way to stop at the hotel.

Could I get a storage locker downtown? Omg. Talk about holding onto the status quo of having to take a bag ? because that’s what you do on a trip.

We brainstormed. The things I had to take were:

Wallet with credit cards and Nexus card for faster entry into Canada.



Mobile charger



My pants have enough pockets for those items. That should work.

I left my Apple Watch at home because it requires a different charger. ✅

I carried wore my sunglasses on my hat to not have to put the case into my pockets – which were full.

Toiletries? I didn’t bring any. But the Marriott app lets me request a toothbrush, toothpaste and the like. So I did that. Should work!

Side story: The Hilton app lets you pre-order beer and wine to be in your room when you arrive!

Playing the travel game actually helps play the business game. It teaches us to think through things. Sometimes we make the wrong decision, but that’s life and business.

While the examples here are travel, the concept applies to business.

Should we add this product?

Should we restructure a workflow?

Should we work on a different culture?

Should we make a tough decision?

Should we kill a product that used to be successful?

The default answer can’t always be no. Maybe have one of these default answers:

Tell me more

Let’s think about that

Just be sure that “let me think about it” isn’t code for “no.”

Especially in an environment of rapid change and evolution how we work through the situations that would have been a clear no way back when can define our futures.