When I was growing up, my mother decided to change her religion and join another church that in some circles is considered more of a cult than “real” religion. That’s where I first started hearing “no.” Imagine a cute little girl (me), dressed in her Sunday best, knocking on your door at the tender age of five and hearing “no” while you are slamming the door in my face. It did not deter me. I did not run off crying nor did I stop believing you had the right to say “no.” That’s right, my father, who did not join this religion would remind me that everyone has the right to believe what they want to believe. And so it was.
Then came high school and dances and the restriction of not being allowed to go to most events, or date. Well, the no dating was my father’s rule and the no dancing was the church’s rule. So, knowing my mother really loved to dance, I asked her to have parties where my friends could come over and she would chaperone us and all would be well and we could dance. One could say I was adapting to my situation and taking that “no” and making it a “yes.”
Fast forward to entering the corporate workforce and being told by my Dartmouth educated boyfriend “no one will take you seriously unless you wear a gray Pemberton wool suit to meetings.” Well, I was highly successful in my corporate career dressing in my own style ala Talbots and it wasn’t in a dull gray suit. Why? Because I understood what really mattered, and that was knowing my product inside and out and knowing the competition, because when your career is on the bleeding edge of technology you cannot make mistakes and you cannot be unprepared.
In my corporate life, I developed sales and marketing programs for new technology applications. In the world I was in, taking these products to market all started with the word “no” for me. “No” was not something to be feared or avoided, it was the center of the answer to “yes.” Why would people buy it? How will it help them be more productive? How will it save money? What is the market opportunity? So many other questions, but I knew there was only one word that could end a product’s life – and that was the word “no.”
When creating the “go to market” plan for these products (for my career-to-date, I have launched 36 commerce, publishing, mobile apps, biometric security, and supply chain management technology products), I would start with “no” and it would be all the reasons why not. This exercise would get to “yes.” It would be through preparation, through research, and because I had eliminated the “nos” that could stop the process of getting to “yes.”
Now, I have always loved a challenge, I guess it stems from hearing I can’t do it that way, or no one will buy it, or I don’t think it will work, etc… But if you have done the prep work and have gotten to “yes” then you don’t need to fear “no.”
Now you may wonder why this matters in a column about women in entertainment? Well, think about it. From auditions, to gigs relating to projects, to producing or directing, we are always selling and marketing ourselves. We all face “no” but that doesn’t mean we have to fear it. It means that when we hear “no” as the answer, we will come back stronger the next time – and we will do our homework ahead of time and we will know how to get past all of the “nos” and get to “yes” before we go into the lion’s den.
We will not allow the “nos” to slow us down, and we will not let them stop us, but we will let the “nos” fuel us and inspire us to make them eat those “nos!”