198 FS Saying No

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03:52 - First-time “No” Experiences; Fear and Pressure

14:26 - Reasons to Say “No”

  • Communication and The Power Dynamic
  • Customer Support

24:31 - Using “No” as a Tool to Get Where You Want to Go

25:35 - Obtaining the Ability to Say “No”

30:20 - Changing Your Mind

32:14 - Techniques for Saying “No”Picks

Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by Oren Klaff (Philip)Positioning Crash Course (Philip)Silicon Valley (Reuven)


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Earth Class Mail moves your snail mail into the cloud, giving you instant access, 24/7 and integrates with the tools and services you use everyday. **It’s crazy that we’ve moved everything we do for the business over to the digital world but still need to pick up, sort and manage physical mail. With Earth Class Mail, you can get all of your mail scanned and accessible online 24/7. You can search your mail, send invoices over to your accounting software, save important documents into the cloud storage, deposit check and really just make running your business a whole lot easier. You’ll also get real professional address to share publicly with customers, business partners and investors, and you’ll never get to worry about somebody showing up at your door if you run your business from home.** Visit freelancersshow.com/mail and you’ll get your first month of service free when you sign up. That’s freelancersshow.com/mail.] **REUVEN: Hi everyone and welcome to The Freelancers’ Show. Today at our panel we have Philip Morgan. PHILIP: Hey, hey! REUVEN: And I’m Reuven Lerner. Today, we are going to talk about an important two-letter word, “no”, that all freelancers should learn to say. Tell us Philip, why should they learn to say no? PHILIP: I won’t do it. No! [Chuckles] I’m kidding. So we were kicking around ideas for what to discuss before we hit the record button. I’ve had a bit of a journey with coming to embrace the idea of saying ‘no’. So I thought that might make for an interesting conversation. Also, I’m not the only person I know who struggles to know when to say no, why to say no and how to say no. So maybe we can use that as our framework for this conversation – when to say no, why to say no and how to say no. I guess I’ll say by way of the headline, that had been very empowering and I think a lot of good things have come out of me learning when and where to say no and becoming better at doing it. Aside from the whole idea of positioning which is deciding what kind of work you want to go after and often times saying no to the rest, I think there’s other reasons to say no as well that have to do with relating with clients and ultimately putting their best interest first or equal with our own best interest. Sometimes even that involve saying no to the very people who are trying to hire us. So there’s a lot to it and let’s get into it. I think it might be interesting – I’d love to hear from you, Reuven; when is the first time you said no in an intentional way to a client where maybe you would have previously said yes, and then you realized you just needed to say no. REUVEN: Let me start off by saying that when I started freelancing – that’s about 20 years ago – and I first moved to Israel, I met this lawyer who’s this self-employed lawyer. He said, “Let me give you some really important business advice – never say no to a client. If someone is coming, try to offer you money, wants to offer you to do things, you should always find a way to say yes to them.” For years, I held on to that advice. It took me years to realize it was terrible advice. [Chuckles] Because for years I would say, “Oh yes.” So people would say, “Do you do X?” I’d say, “Oh, absolutely.” And I’d learn about X and I would do things that really were not so much my expertise or I didn’t want to work in them. The most extreme example is perhaps this company asked me to write an extension to the Apache web server for them. I tried to do it in Perl and it worked okay but then I had to do it in C. It’s like the first C programming I’ve done in 10 years and it was just terrible for everyone, and I felt terrible afterwards. So I think it was only after a good number of years; I can’t even remember the first time I said no to a client, but it finally was – it was more – the first time that I said no, it was not a scheduled thing or ‘I cannot help you because I have no time in my schedule’. PHILIP: Uh-hm. REUVEN: It was probably just a few years ago when someone would say, “Can you do a project for me in such a language?” I would say, “No, I really don’t know that that well.” And it was a weird feeling for me and I felt also let down, like I was letting them down, I was letting myself down. PHILIP: Right. REUVEN: Here’s this person who wants to hand me money and I’m telling them ‘no, I don’t want it’. What am I, crazy? Am I stupid? And very slowly, I’ve gotten better doing it. And I can’t put my finger on when it first happened, but now it’s starting to happen more and more. Although truth be told, it’s happening less and less in that I’m projecting a certain image where I turn away people without even knowing it. PHILIP: Right. REUVEN: Where [inaudible] what I would do. PHILIP: That’s interesting. So it’s a transitional thing where you had to get better at saying no but it got you to a place where you’re now not forced to say no or you don’t have to say no quite as much. REUVEN: Right. I don’t think I had to say it that often in part because as time is going on, people have identified [inaudible] doing a bunch of certain things, but really, a few [inaudible] of people come to me and say ‘I need you [inaudible] project’ especially with PHP. PHP’s very big in Israel; it’s everywhere and people say, “Could you do a project in this?” And I would say, “You know, that’s not really my expertise. I could do it for you but it probably wouldn’t be good for anyone.” That’s probably the style of no that I said for a long time. Now, I just say – yeah, it does happen that often but when someone approached me and I don’t want to work on it or it’s not my expertise then I’ll say no straight out. It feels less weird. REUVEN: I am sort of a recovering people pleaser so [chuckles] it does not come naturally to me to say no even if that’s what I mean or if that’s what I feel about a situation. It doesn’t come naturally. What’s natural if you’re coming from that psychological habit of wanting to please people is just wanting to say yes if you think that it’s what they want. So that works out particularly horribly in freelancing, I found. I can look back to the first four or five years of my freelancing career as a time when I made a lot of mistakes and did a lot of things differently than I would do now. One of the things that I did was based on this mindset of exactly what your lawyer friend told you 20 odd years ago was you need to find a way to say yes to every option, every opportunity because opportunity scares clients or scares [inaudible] few and far between, they’re hard to get. It’s hard to win work. That was the mentality that lead to me – combine that with survey, a people pleaser orientation and saying yes to stuff that was just – if I was a doctor and I was saying yes, you can use that as an analogy, I would be charged with malpractice likely so. I would be like the general practitioner who is like, “Brain surgery? Sure! Yeah, I think I studied a little bit of that in med school. I could pick that up on the job and we can operate on that brain tumor. No problem.” REUVEN: That is a fantastic analogy because if you ever have to deal with medical problems and you go to the doctors, you will soon discover you have to deal with an army of doctors because every doctor is very specialized. And they will all say, “I don’t know anything about X; I don’t know anything about Y.” Or [inaudible] just what you say which is, “I did a little bit of that in medical school but I haven’t done it since, so you should really see a specialist.” They’re not indirous [check 8:52] to say that. PHILIP: Right. REUVEN: Whereas we’re like, “You know, I haven’t done GUIs in a long time, but I can totally pick it up again.” [Chuckles] It took me a long time to realize no, if someone asks me to do a GUI, I’d just say that I’m – no, I don’t know anything about it. It’s not worth my time, it’s not worth their time. PHILIP: Yeah, so there’s sort of that looking out for what’s best for the project. I remember that I said yes to an – eagerly pursued a project that was – here’s the situation. So I was doing general writing freelance work, and anything that involve writing, I felt like I could do the job of. So if it’s writing a white paper or writing website copy; that was fine. I had a background in that. I also had a background in e-learning. A project came up and the client needed some e-learning and I just watched this video about gamification. I was like, “Yes. Combine e-learning and gamification.” So I was basically taking something I was enthusiastic about but had zero real world experience with. And baking that into a proposal and saying, “Let’s do this; let’s rock and roll here. We can make this happen.” And the project did not go super well as you can imagine because I was operating from a very slender base of actual expertise. It was – again, it was just a story about saying yes when what I should’ve said is no. it’s scary to do that. I know it’s super scary to do that in certain situations where you think, “Okay, if I say no to this, I don’t know where the next client project is coming from. I don’t know when the next opportunity is.” That makes it extra hard to say no. REUVEN: Right. That’s always the fear because as freelancers, we’re always worried about what’s coming next, how can I make sure my pipeline is as deep as possible so that I can sleep at night. And saying no explicitly would seem to – and I guess in the face of it, restricts that pipeline and says, “I’m going to give up money that someone is offering me.” So it’s a short term versus long term thing. But if you end up doing a project that’s not a good fit for you, then the ramifications can be even worse. It’s not only you feel bad, but instead of getting a client who want to work with you for a long term, you’ll get a client who’ll say to their peers, “Ugh, I just worked with so and so, and I had a terrible experience. Do not hire them.” That undo’s five, ten positive recommendations right there. PHILIP: I think it can be extremely damaging. Not only that you can – that project I was talking about, I ended up doing a hundred hours of free work. It had to do with – that was because I maybe had another mistake and mismanaged a subcontractor so it doesn’t exactly support my point, but yet it was one of the many stressful and difficult things that came out of saying yes when I should’ve said no. It’s just there can be a lot of pressure; I guess it’s one of the things I’m seeing in our conversation about this. There can be a ton of pressure to say yes. It can be hard to say no. REUVEN: Right, because again, if someone is offering you a business opportunity, you don’t want to say no to them. And I think part of it is by saying no – first of all, there are people who are less in a position to do that. If you really don’t have any work happening, then it’s very easy for us to say no to it. I think it’s a long term view of you want to get to the place where you can say no, but saying no will also help you to hone what you’re interested in, what you specialize in, what you’re good at and will then help to attract the right kinds of clients. But like – if someone’s offering you money and you really need it, then don’t be insane and say no. this is a strategic plan [inaudible] tactical one. PHILIP: Yeah, I guess that really is the first step. It was for me to realize that for a while, I definitely was in that position where if I said no, there was – I couldn’t create a spreadsheet that would say where that missing money was going to come from if I said no to an opportunity. So it really seemed pretty definitive that the only answer available to me was yes, take this work. And you may not love it, it may not be perfect for you but it’s better than missing a rent payment or a mortgage payment or something like that, right? REUVEN: Right. PHILIP: And I think there’s a lot of people who are in that position. So what I would say to folks in that position is take that feeling of whatever is the feeling for you, like that feeling of discomfort about saying yes when you regret or say no. Or that feeling of dread like ‘I know I’m going to hate doing this but I got to make this month’s rent’ and use that to channel that feeling into creating a situation where you can start to say no. because after some practice and years of practice, I can tell you that saying no when you know that that’s the best thing for everybody involved feels so good. It feels incredible. But then again, just know that you may have to work your way into that situation overtime. If it’s not just a mindset thing where you can say, “Okay, I get it. I know that I need to not be the malpractice doctor. I need to be looking out for my client’s best interest so I need to say no sometimes.” You can’t just snap your fingers and change your mind about that and make it happen instantly, unless you have some money in the bank or some credit to carry you through a time when you’re transitioning to a different way of doing things. REUVEN: Right. So there are a few different reasons you might want to say no, and the first and most obvious one is scheduling. I don’t have time to deal with this person. But that’s not really what we’re talking about. It’s more like – so what are some reasons? One that comes to mind is this is something that you really don’t specialize in. This is something you don’t know how to do. PHILIP: Right. You lack the time which you pointed out; you lack the expertise or you lack the expertise plus experience to confidently promise the results that are needed. Why else would you say no? Here’s the reason; you just don’t like the person that would be your point of contact or you don’t like the client’s business. I’ve talked to some freelancers up in Canada who are kind of in that region of Canada that has a lot of oil and gas business. For some people, that’s ethically – that’s a problem. They don’t agree with the business practices or the type of business and that would be a reason to say no. REUVEN: Right. I’ve got a client now where I was just really, over the last few weeks, really frustrated with how they were treating the [inaudible], what was going on. I haven’t set a few limits and I kept saying, “Well, I prefer not to do this, prefer not to do that,” and I think I was too American with them. In Israel, I need to say – I need to be a little more direct like, “That is terrible. I will never do that,” and they would see that as negotiation rather than, “Okay, we’ll do that.” [Chuckles] So we had a very difficult phone call which I said, “I’m not going to work with you.” And the woman was so shaken to her core that I would say this, that she was like, “Oh, I didn’t realize you were really upset about all these things.” So it looks like I want to work with them but we’ll see if we’ll work with them any more after this particular course project. But yeah, you get a feeling from certain businesses that they’re just not going to be a good fit. My wife is always the one like when I bounce that thing off of her, I say to her, “Yeah, I spoke with this new company that I’ve never worked with before and they gave me a funny feeling.” She will always say to me, “If you have that feeling now, drop them now because it’ll just get worst when you actually do the project.” The pre-project is always the most positive thing so if that’s bad, bad sign. PHILIP: Yeah, I agree completely. For a time, I had – I think we can touch on this more when we start talking about learning how to say no. there’s a time when I needed to give myself an additional external support in saying no, and one of the ways I did that was trying to think objectively about what makes a great client for Philip Morgan consulting. So I catalogued all the clients I’ve ever worked with and anyone that ended up not working out or not being a really good project, or me having to fire them or something like that, I ask myself, “Did I have a funny feeling in my stomach about this before money changed hands or before we signed the contract?” and the answer was yes. Every time, there was always a sort of – your intuition, that little voice inside your head or however you want to think about it, your gut. Always, there was some sign that this doesn’t feel quite right and it was 100% accurate. I think there’ve been one or two surprises where I didn’t have that and maybe it didn’t work out so great, but never did I have that feeling and it worked out well. I guess you could argue that was me creating a self-fulfilling prophecy; maybe ii influenced the project by not doing a great job because I had that feeling. But I think you could argue that you always know if you’re going to get along well with a client. I wish I had said no in those cases because I would’ve saved myself stress and some other unfortunate result. So I think that’s a reason to say no is that you have a funny feeling about the project, like maybe the client’s not telling you everything or something. I don’t mean to pin it all on the client because as often as anything, it’s just not a good fit. It’s like not everybody’s meant to get married to every other person. There’s such a thing as good and bad fit when it comes to relationships. REUVEN: Absolutely, especially with some people like consulting. You’re going to be working with these people; it’s going to be probably an intense relationship and they’re going to depend on you for things. Yeah, I often tell people that it’s just a matter of chemistry and we have to make sure that it’ll actually work out. I know Jonathan’s rule of thumb is that it only works with people with who he feels he can go out, have a good cup of coffee with them. I’m not saying that my clients need to be my best friends, but I definitely want to have a sense of, “Yeah, we’re happy to work together. We’re really satisfied with this and we feel like everyone’s getting something good out of this relationship.” PHILIP: Two other specific aspects of that that occurred to me is – one is communication and the other is the power dynamic would be the direct way of saying that. S communication like – I think that’s the life blood of any kind of relationship and the relationship is the foundation that the success of the project rests on. So if a client is unable to prioritize communicating in a timely fashion, or if their communication is just not effective like they won’t ever get on the phone if that’s what’s called for and they only use email or vice versa; if they only want to make a phone call when email would be a lot more effective way. To me, those can actually fundamentally break a project so I think communication style is a reason to say no to a particular client even if all the other check boxes on that checklist of qualifying the client are checked, I think that could be a complete deal breaker. It’s that communication piece is not there. The other one is if the client puts you in the wrong box in terms of they think of you as a pair of hands and you want to be functioning more as an adviser and a consultant, that’s a reason to say no. Likewise, if they’re expecting you to be an adviser or a consultant and you just don’t have the skill yet to do that, then that would be reason to say no, to gracefully say well, what you guys need is going to be better served by somebody else. I think those are two specific reasons to say no. Again, even if all the other check boxes are checked, those two things can really make or break a project. REUVEN: Uh-hm. I try to think – so recently, I had – not that many people, probably once every six months, I have someone turn to me and ask me to do a particular thing, dealing with replication of their postgress [check 21:00] database. PHILIP: Uh-hm. REUVEN: It’s definitely a thing. Listeners, if anyone wants to get into this business, I highly recommend it. It’s clear that as interest and postgress go is growing and growing very rapidly. People want to deal with replication so they got high availability, they’re going to have multiple service running, so people keep calling and asking me to set it up for them. Basically, I start to realize I just don’t want to be in this business. I enjoy going to come [inaudible] giving them overall database help. I enjoy going to companies and doing consulting in general, and this could be a beautiful productized consulting offering. And I thought about it long and hard like is this something I want to do? And the answer was no; I have enough other things on my plate and it would require – and this is the real reason – it will require taking time away from the things that I love, that’ve got a pipeline for, that I feel like I’m well-known and that I’m good at and devote time to something new in a different direction that doesn’t necessarily [inaudible] directly with the other directions I’m going in. So when someone contacted me a few weeks ago, I said no and I felt really weird. Because previously I would’ve said, “Well, I’ll see if I can find you time or I’m not available,” but this time it was just like, “No, I’m not really doing that right now,” and he understood. He seem to understand. PHILIP: That makes me think A, that that could be for the right person, that could be a really nice high profit margin, very defined scope/service offering. REUVEN: Big time. PHILIP: It also makes me think that one of the reasons to say no is not the project itself but the ancillary things around it. Like you know that after the project is over, there’s going to be a ton of follow on support and you don’t want to do that or you’re not set to do that or you don’t have the bandwidth to do it, or you just hate being interrupted with little nit-picky support requests. And what you want to do is build software in a different way. I think that’s potentially a reason to say no or at least to say no, I’m not going to do that but we need to partner with somebody else to hand that off because they really like doing that on-going support, and that’s a real sweet spot for them. REUVEN: Right. PHILIP: That could be a reason to say no; it’s not the core of the project but something connected to it that you know is going to not poison it but just make it not ideal. REUVEN: It’s going to be less time-boxed; it’s going to become a support thing. And if you’re not in the support business – I just saw someone – I think it was on Bren Dunn’s [check 23:22] forums. Someone was saying, “How do you deal will all the support calls from a bunch of different clients? Like how do you build them? How do you balance that?” And I thought to myself, “Wow, I haven’t had to deal with that for so long,” because I’m mostly out of the support business. Not completely but mostly, but I do remember having that. So by switching out business to a different direction, I wasn’t in the unfortunate position – I guess fortunate in many ways – of how a bunch of people call you at the same time saying ‘I need your time right now’, then having to turn them down saying ‘I’d love to help you but it’ll take two days because I’m busy with other stuff.’ PHILIP: I know. Occasionally, even though what I do is marketing work, I still get things – kind of like support request on old projects. I like supporting my clients and keeping a long-term relationship with them, but I can’t help but notice that a support request can torpedo my day if I have to give it a priority response. Whatever I was planning on doing that day may not happen. So it’s worth thinking long term about the ramifications of what you do say yes to. Another observation that comes to mind is we’re talking about transitioning from this place where using no as a tool to get to where you want to go; it’s what we’re talking about here. What I’ve noticed in my own business, I think this varies case to case is it takes about six months for me to execute any big change like I want that work as much as I want this other work. Even more like – it can take eight months or 12 months to execute those changes. So as people are thinking hopefully what they want to say no to more frequently, just know that again, it’s not an overnight thing. It takes time for these transitions to happen. REUVEN: Right. PHILIP: With your move away from coding and towards training, what was the timeframe on that, Reuven? REUVEN: I’m guessing it was over the course of about a year or two that – it just happened together where I was getting more and more training. And so people, if they call you for development work at least in my experience, it could be other people have different experiences. My experience is like they call me for development work; they want it now, they want it in a week. They really don’t want to have to wait even a month or two. PHILIP: Alright. REUVEN: So by filling up my schedule with training which does turn to be long term. It almost puts me in the position of saying, “Well, I’m not going to be able to do that,” and that’s what led me to realize, “Wait, I’m having a good time. I don’t want to do that as much.” Maybe if it’s a one-off project, maybe here and there to do something, it’s really particularly interesting. But for the most part, basically I’m just not interested in day to day coding stuff now. It was a good amount of time, and it wasn’t even me purposely [inaudible] deciding that; it just sort of happened, and then I came to that conclusion. PHILIP: Yeah, that’s interesting. REUVEN: I’m curious though, do people come to you – you have a very – I guess this is appropriate – you’re very well-defined specialty and positioning in terms of the kind of marketing you want to do, but do people still come to you asking for a marketing advice that is out of your scope, that is out of what you’d like to work on? PHILIP: Occasionally. Here’s what they looks like; someone sees me talking a lot about content marketing and maybe I get a referral, which I appreciate tremendously, but the referral is for somebody who needs – who’s in like a B2C, a business to consumer type business. And the content marketing help that I provide is just so focused on B2B sales. It’s a whole different ball game; you wouldn’t notice if you don’t know a little bit about how content marketing works, but it’s a completely different ball game when it’s a B2B situation versus a B2C situation. So that’s an example where I have to say, “I’d love to help you but I don’t really have any expertise in making B2C content marketing. Here’s why it’s different than what I do and if I knew anybody, I would refer you but I don’t, so sorry. So that’s an example of getting approached for something where I can tell you five or three years ago – five years ago, I would’ve done everything in my power to say yes. I would’ve jumped online and just done a bunch of quick research and try to figure out the techniques that are working for that B2C approach and put together a proposal and really try to pitch this person on me being the right choice. Now, I just – I don’t ever for a minute take this for granted that I have the ability to say no. It’s a tremendous freedom that I’ve worked very hard to obtain but it’s also – I realize that it’s – I don’t want to use the word ‘luxury’ because again, I’ve worked my ass off for it, but it’s a nice position to be in. That’s a culmination of years of building up to that point. And again, it feels wonderful to know that I am doing the right thing for me and for the client, equally doing the right thing. It feels great. [Crosstalk] REUVEN: In my experience if you do that also, they appreciate it. On a few occasions, I have said to people, “I just don’t know enough of that technology to help you. There’s nothing that I can really do for you.” No one’s ever said to me, “What? That’s outrageous! I really want you to work on this thing!” They all say, “Wow, I really appreciate your honesty.” [Inaudible] ask me if I do know someone in that space who can help them out, then you can be sure that at some point down the road, they will be [inaudible] someone and the thing that you do specialize comes up and your name will come at the top of the list. PHILIP: That’s right. I don’t want to come across too strongly when I say this, but I think as a profession, freelancers in general tend to not be super disciplined about saying no. I think as a result, clients have been trained to be a little bit suspicious rightly so because if you went to the general practitioner doctor who said, “Sure, we can do some brain surgery,” and that went wrong and word got out, people will become very suspicious, again, rightly so of GPs who offer to do brain surgeries. I guess what I’m saying is that I think client – I think that’s why clients are surprised if you say no as a freelancer is because they’ve been trained to expect you to fit yourself to the task even if it’s a bad fit. Again, it doesn’t help if you have a personal background as a people pleaser, so those first many times that I said no, I had to build in some support for myself so I wasn’t to say no. But one of the ways you can do that is to explain your reasons for saying no. I think the easiest no to deliver is the one we’re talking about where it’s, “I’m not going to be able to hit this out of the park for you. This is not going to be a homerun because I lack the experience or the skills, or “I’ve just chosen to focus [inaudible] where so I can’t take this on and I’d like to refer you” or “Good luck finding somebody on your own. Here’s some resources. It might help with that.” That’s the easiest note to say, right? REUVEN: Right. PHILIP: Have you ever had to say any no’s you really didn’t want to that were more difficult? REUVEN: There’s a client I had a few years ago where I didn’t quite like the project. They were paying okay; they weren’t exactly paying on time which was my ostensible reason for leaving them, but I think they would’ve figured that out. I really had no patience for that. But it just didn’t feel like the sort of client with whom I wanted to work for. I told the CEO that I’m just not going to work with them anymore. And I did feel bad because I felt like “Oh, I’m leaving them on a lurch,” but I do think on balance, it was totally the right decision, but it took some time to get the perspective to realize that. PHILIP: Yeah, those are tough where you said yes at one point [crosstalk]. REUVEN: Yeah. PHILIP: You said, “Okay, I’ll help you. You can be my client. I’ll help you out,” then you had to change your mind about it. That is so personally difficult for me because Robert Caundinni [check 31:06] identified this in his book on influence. People like to be consistent and I’m not different. I don’t want to appear flaky in the slightest for any reason, so once I say yes, it’s very hard for me to change my mind about something like that. I’ve had it in though; I fired clients that I said yes to and then it didn’t work out. REUVEN: Right. And I think – you keep saying you feel like a people pleaser. I think for many of us that’s why we are in this business, I love [inaudible] when people email me and say, “Yeah, your book really helped me, your company helped me. Your work really helped me.” I like that [inaudible] say, “You just made my week,” and I am not exaggerating because getting that feedback is so empowering, so exciting. I think we always – we get that kind of feedback all the time but to get it on a regular basis from people enjoying our work is almost addictive. And so you think, “Wow, if I can service more people, then I can get that more. But it’s just not possible; you can’t please all the people all the time. PHILIP: Yeah, that’s a good point. I want to add some – if for people who have no problem saying no, this is going to sound funny and, Philip, why do you need to do that stuff? But for those of us who are coming from that place of really preferring to say yes whether it’s a good idea or not, I’ve got a couple of techniques that people can use to learn to say no. one of those is asking for more time and not making a decision about something in the moment. What would be a good example? Say a client is like ‘hey, can you do X?’ And X is either out of scope for a project or a bad idea, or something that’s not really going to contribute to the result you’re trying to create or – there’s potentially a million reasons why you should say no, right? X is something you should say no to and there’s some emotional part of you that’s very strong saying, “Well, just do it anyway. Don’t rock the boat, don’t upset the client. You’re lucky to have this work, you don’t want to lose it. These are all the internal voices that people pleasers hear inside their head. And so one way to deal with that is to never make a decision in the moment. I mean, not make any decision but one of these more difficult decisions where you want to say yes but you really should say no is to not make that decision in the moment and say ‘I got to check my calendar’, ‘I got to check with my team, ‘let me think about it just to make sure I give you a good answer’ and use that distance from the moment to either build up your courage or develop a water tight explanation for why you need to say no. whatever you need, I found that that really takes some of the pressure off saying no. it doesn’t ultimately make it that much easier but it does make it somewhat easier to say no. That’s one useful strategy for building up your no muscle [chuckles], your ability to say no. Another one is to involve a third party if that’s legitimate, and anyone who’s ever negotiated the price of an automobile from a car dealer at least in the US. I don’t know if this is how that works, Reuven, in Israel, but here in the US, here’s the very common thing; you’ll be taken into a small office with a sales person, you talk about a bunch of stuff, and at some point, a deal’s on the table and the sales person will say, “I’ve got to take this to my manager, to the sales manager.” They will leave the room for some length of time and what they really do? Who knows. [Chuckles] What they say they’re doing is checking with their superior who has the ability to authorize the deal or say ‘sorry, I can’t do it; here’s the best I can do’. Not that you should overuse this technique but it is a potentially useful technique for negotiating something where you would ordinarily say yes, you know you should say no, you can involve a third party. I checked with my team and they say we can’t do it for this reason. I checked with my spouse and the spouse is really going to be upset if I do that so I got to say no. It is a little – you can overuse and is like a weasel move, but it’s also a useful way to get yourself used to saying no so that eventually, you can say no in the moment for whatever reason you need to say no and not have to employ this techniques. But I just want to throw them out there as a transitional strategy for folks that maybe have trouble saying no. REUVEN: Right. It also sometimes helps to walk the client through it and have them come to the conclusion of no. PHILIP: Uh-hm. REUVEN: You can say – you can start to ask them about well, what technologies they’re going to need, what schedule are you going to need? And when you start to say ‘well, I can definitely learn about this’ or ‘I can definitely fit it in, there’, and it becomes obvious that you could do it but they want to have someone who’s really enthusiastic about, who’s really an expert at it. The reason they’re calling you in is not because ‘oh, we need someone to work on this’ but ‘we need someone to work on this who actually knows about it’. And so I can’t remember any examples off hand butt there have definitely been times when I’ve said, “Well I could do this. I don’t know if I’m the best fit. Why don’t you tell me more?” As a walk through, I say, “Well, yeah I have to do this and this and this.” Especially with courses like, “Well, I could – oh, I know. Sometimes I get called in for Perl courses.” I’m like, “Well, I haven’t taught it in at least six years.” And I have to get up to date and I have to do this and I have to do that. That’s when they usually say, “You know what, you’re right. [Chuckles] I’m going to stop pushing you. I’m going to find someone who’s really up to date and who has taught this more recently.” Because sometimes they sort of insist. They’re like, “I’ve worked with you before; I want to have you work on this,” and “I’m even willing to pay you to prepare it.” Then my experience is at least saying no to them doesn’t work that well, and I don’t want to be rude so I say, “Listen. Here are all the reasons,” and they’re like, “That’s a good point. Fine. You win.” [Chuckles] PHILIP: Yeah, I think that you can either use that strategy, sort of wow, you’re saying no or almost to direct the conversation. It’s just basically asking why. Client says, “Would you do this? Could you do this?” And you basically say, “Maybe but can we explore why you want to do that?” or “help me understand why you want to do that.” That may actually kind of give you the ability to sort of – like you said, Reuven, just walk them through the implications of what they’re asking for and help them realize that no is not the answer that you’re giving them; it’s the right answer, or it’s the best answer for that question. REUVEN: Right. We should probably start [inaudible] soon. Are there any other hints for people to either say no or how to or when to? PHILIP: Yeah, I’m kind of thinking this through. The big point we’ve really touched on – it does get easier and – of course, if you go too far with this idea of saying no, it can harm you if you say no to all opportunities or if you aren’t really reasonable about it. So again, it’s something that should be used more like a scalpel than a machete. [Chuckles] REUVEN: Oh you know what, I know a lot of people have built into their on-boarding process. Strong hints as to who they like to work with so that again, the client realizes, before the freelancer even has to say, “I don’t think I want to work with you,” the client realizes “maybe this is not the sort of person with whom I want to work.” PHILIP: Could be the kind of questions you’re asking when someone inquires via a contact form. Could be the process between an initial inquiry and money-changing hands. It’s maybe not an arduous process but is a very disciplined and defined process. Those are both ways of telegraphing that not everybody gets a yes or not everybody gets through the aperture that you have to get through to become a client. REUVEN: Right. And of course, no one wants to join the popular thing; they want to join the exclusive thing. So in some ways, while turning people often and saying, “Wow, I only work with clients who are like this and this and this. We only work with people who have the following factor in their favor. Yes, it’s going to turn off some people but other people are going to say, “Wow! I wonder if I am n that special group?” PHILIP: Yeah, that just makes me think of a pick that I’ll offer that may help folks with that. REUVEN: I don’t think I have much to add in terms of summing up, but it’s definitely something that we think about in a medium to long term. What sorts of clients do you want to have a year from now, and how can you start to push your clients both in the positive direction of ‘I am interested in the following sorts’. And then also the negative direction like ‘I’m not interested in the following sorts’ and when people come to you, start to move in that direction so that over the next year, you can get to where you want. I think that’s my big takeaway. PHILIP: Yup. I would say the same. It’s not a magic bullet; it’s not going to make anything change for the better overnight, but I think it’s one of those muscles that you build up as a business owner, as a freelancer that eventually makes things better because of how it works overtime. So yeah, absolutely. What you said, Reuven. [Chuckles] REUVEN: So you mentioned you have at least one pick. What do you got this week? PHILIP: Okay. I guess two picks. We talked about the power dynamics of a relationship with a client. I may have picked this before but it just reminds me of a book called Pitch Anything. The full title is Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading and Winning the Deal. This is by a guy named Oren Klaff. It’s presenting a combination of basic stuff that I think it’s good for even a beginning freelancer to know, and then very sophisticated stuff that you have to be in a somewhat rare position to be able to pull of successfully. So it’s not like a beginning textbook for negotiation but when it comes to that idea that you’re talking about, Reuven, of being the prize or being a thing that not anybody can have, it really speaks to that idea and in a very entertaining and engaging way, walks you through how that works. So it’s a book that’s available on Kindle, Paper [check: 41:32] and Audible. Actually giving the audible is what I did. I think it’s pretty interesting because the author reads it and almost in the tone of voice that the author is using to read it kind of gives you an idea of attitude that comes with this. Cocky is not quite the right word but very confident and not overly serious or overly anxious about anything. I do think those sorts of ways of being – go hand in hand with being willing to walk away from a deal for instance. So anyway, Pitch Anything. Sorry that was kind of long. And I’ll just remind folks that part of saying no is knowing what you want to say yes to. And part of knowing what you want to say yes to is defining what kind of market position you want to go after. So I have a free email crash course that would be worth checking out if you haven’t already. You can find that at positioningcrashcourse.com [check 42:25] and that I think will be my second pick for this week – positioningcrashcourse.com. Get clear on who it is you do want to say yes to so that you can say no more strategically and more effectively. REUVEN: Excellent. So I have a fun pick. So my wife is an art historian and curator, and it turns out that those stereotypes of crazy artists are 100% true, unless you are one of the artists with whom she works in which case, this does not apply to you. [Laughs] And we sometimes compare notes and I say to her, “Listen, it’s true, artists are crazy but people in the computer industry are kind of crazy also. They’re just a different kind of crazy.” So I’ve been watching Silicon Valley, the HBO series. I have not laughed so hard in quite some time because the stereotypes that they have in there are so recognizable and so hysterically funny that anybody who’s been working in this industry for a while, not necessarily physically in Silicon Valley, will recognize the crazy investors, the crazy programmers, the crazy companies and how all the companies – we know that all they want to do is become the next Google, but they will claim that they just want to change the world and make it a better place. It is really – I encourage you to take a look at Silicon Valley and get some perspective on this wacky technology industry that we use and which we are a part. PHILIP: I just want to second that. I agree with everything you said; it’s just laugh out loud funny and the level of insight into these archetypes of bizarreness that show up in the Silicon Valley gold rusher are pretty hilarious. [Chuckles] REUVEN: Alright. Well, I think that’s it for this week. Thanks everyone for listening, thanks Philip and we will see you all next week on The Freelancers’ Show.[Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at BlueBox.net]**[Bandwidth for this segment is provided by CacheFly, the world’s fastest CDN. Deliver your content fast with CacheFly. Visit cachefly.com to learn more]**

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