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no does not exist

Another diamond bullet moment the other day. If you recall the movie Apocalypse Now, Marlon Brando in the persona of Colonel Kurtz decribes his conversion to extreme guerrilla tactics as ‘as if I were shot with a diamond bullet between the eyes’. Alright, enough lame excuses for quoting favourite movies- my realization:

No does not exist.

What? Of course it does. What I mean is: no to some request or other does not exist. What? I just asked for a chocolate and mango icecream- they said no they sold out. OK- imagine the vendor was not an employee of baskin robbins but a really good friend. A close friend of such closeness that they would leave their work and go to the nearest store and buy you that icecream. There are no ‘noes’ only degrees of closeness.

Let me explain further. You have a child asking endlessly for a lollypop. They ask and ask and never give up. After a while you start thinking- why not? Because saying no doesn’t make them go away! Saying yes will.

This is the diamond moment: when you are in a relationship where saying no will not make you go away then there is no ‘no’. You’re in, buddy. It’s just a question of time.

Al Fayed- the owner of Harrods got his start by marrying the sister of billionaire Adnan Kashoggi. When you are the brother in law saying no won’t make you disappear. So you hear yes a lot more.

Why do people ‘press flesh’ to get work. Because that creates the impression they are around, that by saying no to them you’ll be still seeing them but that ‘no’ will be hanging in the air between you.

If you want to get a yes, get close. You’ll find enough information to frame your request irresistibly. And you’ll be so close that even if they say no once you’ll still be there, lining up the next request, subtly different this time.

Knowing this is a great source of strength. Actually closeness doesn't mean a cloying familiarity it is more 'the right to be there'. If you can develop 'a right to be there' you can start being observant. When you have observed how someone ticks you can frame the request in an irresistible way. Now you need never feel anything is beyond your reach! All you need is the time and energy to get close, be observant and frame the request correctly- again and again. If you think you only have one shot at something you're not close enough. Stop shooting blindly and get closer, earn 'the right to be there'- like Steven Spielberg getting into Universal as a lowly editorial assistant- he had the right to be there and he exploited it. 

There is no ‘no’ only distance between people. Get close to your boss, client, wife, editor, child, agent, teacher today. Get so that when they say no, you’re still around, working how to put it a different way.

The easiest person to say no to is someone you’ve never met, and will never meet, who sends you an email. Actually the form this takes is not even replying. Exchange a few emails and you merit a reply…of no. But get on the phone, take them out for lunch, send them a birthday card, ask after their family…now you’re getting closer.

It helps if you actually like them too…

And of course, the converse is true too. People who seek to get close to you but you don’t actually like them- probably they are after a ‘yes’ of some kind too.


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