Accepting NO!

Accepting NO!

Part II of Blog  - The Cards We Hold Close

Now I am not exactly sure why I link the two posts together because Accepting NO is a subject all on its own. But it was something that continuously ran through my mind while writing The Cards We Hold Close

So here's the deal, since I was very young  NO  was not the ideal answer for me.  Not necessarily in a mischievous, troubled child way, although I'm sure I had my share of those times.  But more in a way of understanding.  See, if NO didn't make sense to me, I challenged it and still do. 

I couldn't just accept NO if it didn't seem logical or if YES also seemed like a viable answer.  And it's not that I can't eventually accept no, but we are definitely going to discuss it if I don't think it is the right answer

My poor father, God rest his soul, battled with this pretty much until his final days.  Sometimes, this landed me in my room for a couple of extra hours each night without privileges (I chalk those nights up to dad being tired and cranky).  While other times it advanced me further in my life/career than I could have imagined. 

And here's where I remember why I linked the two blogs together...over 40, it's no joke about losing your mi..memory.

If you remember, in The Cards We Hold Close, I talk about my philosophy on thoughts, ideas, dreams that we keep to ourselves.  Kept quiet even from our biggest supporters. Hence, The Cards We Hold Close.    Because not everyone can see your vision and people are quick to tell you "That won't work."  a.k.a. NO.

We've already touched on my dislike for the word NO so holding my cards close became a strategic coping mechanism to chase dreams that nobody else would understand, without the heavy burden of  their opinion of whether or not it is possible.

I love the quote, "If someone tells you, "You Can't" they are showing you their limits, not yours!"

So now that we've linked the two blogs, let me get back to my point.  


I've had the wonderful opportunity to work with some great people throughout my life.  Many strong, talented, incredibly knowledgeable individuals.  But it's amazing to me how MOST people will take NO and walk away.

Walk away mad.

Way away annoyed, disgruntled, and mumbling under their breath.

But, walk away nonetheless.

Well, your girl here, has a few issues with that. 

Numero Uno - I've developed a very responsive WTF face that instantly gives me away.  Poker would never be my game.

And Dos - my mouth is not far behind.  Actually, I'm not even sure if there is much of a time lapse between the face and the "Ummmm...." uttered while I quickly plan my attack in my head.

If I have painted the picture of a raging B that must have her way, I assure you that is not the case.  If I can humbly say, one of my best qualities is being able to pull back from a situation to see BOTH sides.  I see your NO.  I just ask that you also see my YES.

Now that we have cleared that up, let me share some life experiences with you in which challenging NO advanced my life.  But before I go there, keep this in mind.  You've already been told NO.  Challenging the situation is not going to disimprove your position.  Well, it can if you don't go about it tactfully.  But you have everything to gain from calmly and professionally presenting your YES.

Early in my career I worked for a bookkeeping firm while taking night classes to finish my degree (which never occurred, by the way).  One of our clients was a group of very successful, needy, challenging (in terms of client relations) restaurant guys.  To be brief, they recruited me away from the firm to come work exclusively for them as their sole in-house accountant.

When I went into my bosses office to tell him of the opportunity they put in front of me he replied, "I hate to see you go if that's what you choose to do.  But, I'm really not sure you can do it."

..."But I'm really not sure you can do it."

To be honest, I wasn't sure I could do it either.  But I will tell you this, HE was NOT going to tell me what I was capable of and I was going to die trying.  

My decision was made.  I left the firm and went on to work almost 20 years for the restaurant guys.

Challenging NO occurred almost on a daily basis throughout my career with them.  From dealing with employees, owners, government officials, insurance agents, bank representatives, you name it, we got told NO from everyone... on the regular. 

One event in particular sticks in my mind, mainly because of the response from an outsider.  I honestly didn't think anything of it.  I was just acting in my normal state of "NO" is not the answer.  But this guy was in awe and my hope is he took that lesson and has used it to advance himself.

So here's the scenario, opening a new restaurant.  200+ employees scheduled to come in to for live training on an opening charity night.  The construction crew still in house trying to get the facility complete (sidenote, it's never complete before you actually open).  The GM comes walking towards me saying "We need to get on the phone and call everyone off tonight and cancel all the reservations."

Excuse me.

"There's a part missing on the hood and the fire department won't sign off." he said.  "We need to let everyone know we are not opening tonight."

YES, we are.

Thoughts circling through my mind...

  • we are 20 minutes from the heart of LA, that part has to be close
  • if it's not close, Steve has a plane and he will fly the damn part here
  • get me a YouTube video and some duct tape and I'll fix it myself

We opened as planned.

Another situation occurred when Mike and I decided to open a yogurt shop in Texas. I loved frozen yogurt and Mike's financially wired entrepreneur mind loved the idea of someone paying $8 for a bowl of ice cream.

A couple of challenges presented themselves.  One, frozen yogurt had not really caught on in Texas.  If it wasn't Braum's Ice Cream or Custard it wasn't really accepted.  People were skeptical of this "yogurt stuff".  Two, the city officials didn't really have a roadmap for the plans/permits for this type of business either.

If you are thinking what I was thinking, for all intensive purposes it's like an ice cream shop, do you have a plan for one of those??

Well, they didn't. So they lumped us in with the restaurant plans and expectations. 

A restaurant.  A full service, ovens, fryers, grills, flattops, hoods, freezers  3000-6000 sq ft full service restaurant category.

For those of you not familiar with the industry, that comes with a whole bunch of extra expenses, permits, and requirements that a simple self-serve yogurt shop DOES NOT REQUIRE. 

We tried relentlessly to work with the city inspector to revise the plans.  She was not budging.  "This is the code.  This has always been the code." was her response.

Now this was not a lady we wanted to tick off.  She was going to be our inspector for the life of our business and we had to maintain a cordial, professional relationship with her.  

But she was wrong.

Actually, in all fairness, she was a "NO" follower.  The code says NO.  The answer is NO.

Your code is outdated.

Still NO.

So, we arranged a meeting with the city officials.  Essentially, her supervisors and the City Manager. A little risky for the "don't tick this lady off" plan but she didn't have the power or will to change or challenge NO, and we did. We went in with all of our supporting information from other like businesses, recommendations from contractors and professionals specific to the industry, and my restaurant knowledge and respectfully pleaded our case.

They agreed with us and we broke ground on new code. 

I'll leave you with one last story of the time I accepted NO.  I know, I know...a weak moment for me. HA!  Honestly, the best moment of my life which is why I want to share it as a counter point to lowering my guard and allowing someone else to challenge NO.

A message from a stranger pops up in my Facebook Messenger.

Weirdo.  Ignore.

A month or so goes by and a chat bubble pops up from same said stranger.

Persistent Weirdo. Momentarily Ignore.

I notice we have a mutual friend.

Text said friend. "Who is this Witty guy?"

"I was wondering when you were going to ask me about him!" - he replied.  "He's a great guy and I think you would really hit it off with him."

Replies to stranger.

And that my friends, is the beginning of how I ended up in Dallas, living my best life, Married to that strange guy that sent me a Facebook Message.  He too was not a believer in accepting NO.

In closing, here's this friends, if you have a belief and the supporting information to back it up, DO NOT, please DO NOT sit back and simply accept NO!



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