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This Is the Most Important Word In Business

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The most important word in business will save you, and it’s not “yes,” or “please,” or “thank you.”

Jay: At this point, you might be thinking, “Jay, that hotel appears to be Reno,” and you know what, you would be right. I am at the Atlantis Hotel and Casino in Reno, Nevada—my first time in my whole career staying overnight in Reno. Pretty excited about that. Speaking gig today for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. Gonna help them with their customer service. Should be a good time.
Now, on the way out here, I was checking Facebook, as one does when you have the annual pass for WiFi, which I gotta tell you is the least enthusiastic and most disheartening credit card charge of the year, Annual WiFi Pass. Anyway, when you have Annual WiFi Pass, you tend to get on Facebook when you travel a little bit, and on Facebook I noticed a post from a friend of mine who was celebrating the fact that he had told a couple of meeting planners, “No.”
See, they asked him to speak, and they gave him an offer that was below his regular rate, and they weren’t very useful to him on travel, and when he was gonna speak and things like that. And ordinarily, he says, he would’ve said “yes,” and he would’ve taken those gigs, and it would’ve been a less-than-ideal circumstance for him. But now, he decided to tell them no, and he consequently has learned the most important word in business.
The most important word in business and frankly in life is “no.” It’s not “yes,” it’s not “please,” it’s not “thank you.” It is “no,” and trust me when I tell you I have made this mistake dozens of times in my life, especially as a younger professional. I get it. I completely, totally, and utterly understand the urge to say “yes,” especially when you needed the money, especially when you need the experience, especially when you need the opportunity. It is so, so easy to say “yes” to something that’s not really right for you and you know it’s not really right for you as soon as the word “yes” crosses your lips. You know it’s not the perfect opportunity for you, but you say “yes” anyway because you think you have to, and I’m here to tell you after 25 years in business, it’s almost never true.
The magic word is “no” because when you say “no,” you save yourself. You save your brain, you save your time, you save your experience to work on the things that are correct for you. It allows you to develop greater mastery in a narrower set of services, a narrower set of projects, a narrower set of opportunities, and that mastery is how you end up getting more opportunities and a higher rate per opportunity. So I totally understand the urge to say “yes,” but I am telling you, whenever you can, whenever it doesn’t feel right, to just say “no.”
Over the long haul, you will be much better off picking the things that you know you can crush it at, as opposed to stretching yourself so thin trying to do everything that anybody asks you to do. Look, I remember, when I started my first company working from home, had no income, people were like, “Hey, can you wash cars?” I’m like, “I can totally wash cars.” “Can you build a web site?” “No, but I’ll figure it out.” “Can you do dry cleaning?” “Sure, I’ll look it up.” I get it, but the magic word is “no.” You’ll be much better off over the long haul.
So, from here in Reno, that is my Jay Today for this very day. Thanks as always to my friends at Emma for bringing you the Jay Today series. Get more from your email marketing. Go to, and those guys will totally hook you up. See you next week. Thanks.

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