Yesterday I spent some time thinking about saying “no.” It started with Fred Wilson’s blog post on the subject. He talked about a board meeting he attended where he learned that one of the company execs has a favorite saying: “the best answer to most questions is no.”
I had never quite thought of it in that way, but it makes a lot of sense and it mirrors what I try to do in evaluating business decisions. To me, I have viewed decision making as akin to the judicial system. Rather than innocent until proven guilty, it is more like “no until proven yes.”
Saying no isn’t easy. And often it isn’t fun. As an angel investor, I say no to a lot of fellow startup founders. As a company CEO, I say no to a lot of good ideas from my team. And as a parent of a 5 year old and a 2 year old, my kids surely feel like I say no to almost everything!
Like most people, I like to say “yes.” As a result, I take on more than I can handle. That’s just one of the many good reasons that “no” should be the default answer until overwhelmed with reasons to say “yes.”
After thinking about it during the day, it was ironic that over dinner with a group of friends last night, we started talking about the “No, David!” book by David Shannon. It’s a great book and was a fitting cap to the day.
Hopefully I will be able to take this reminder to heart and be even better about saying “no” in 2007.