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Yes, no... and ask

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You may have heard of the movie The Yes Man, starring Jim Carrey. In it, the main character's life is terrible until he goes to this mysterious conference where a man preaches the power of yes. Once the Carrey character started saying yes to everything, his lousy life turned around.

There has been quite the chatter around the interweb about the power of yes lately. Many business moguls have been using the power of yes and praising the concept.

This is how Judy Kinney, a life coach in Seattle, describes it:

"Yes and no rule the universe! Why can I make such a bold statement? Because! Whether consciously or not, you move through life constantly expressing "I like this, not that" or "I agree or don't agree." To master the power of yes and no, you need to incorporate two concepts into your life. Universal energy ONLY speaks in the word yes. That's right, she only knows how to agree with you! Yes and no are equally effective energies to use to create and enjoy your desires. Are you tapped in to the magic of yes and no so that you move through life with passionate grace?"

Sorry, Kinney, but I disagree with you. I personally believe the power of yes is extremely powerless. Saying yes to everything is impossible. I am talking about the power of yes in a business context, not in the context of everyday life.

In business, especially as an entrepreneur, saying yes to everything holds you accountable and allows you to wear a lot of hats. Although your goal may be to diversify and to be involved in as many opportunities as you can, spreading yourself thin and not being able to give your full 110 per cent effort benefits no one. I hate it when people say yes to something, and then, two days before the due date they say, "oh, I've been really busy lately and haven't been able to get around to it. I'll try to get it done as soon as possible."

No! I don't want you to get it done as soon as possible, I want you to execute the task to the best of your ability and not commit to so many other things that you cannot fulfil your promise.

Being a yes-man may sound good at first, but committing to too many tasks and projects all at once is a bad idea because you most likely will not be able to execute them all to the best of your ability and may jeopardize your reputation in your field.

Gary Vaynerchuck, a social media expert and prominent author, made a video recently talking about the power of no. At first it appeared to be quite peculiar, but his message started to make sense halfway through. If you say no to people, it is a quite respectable statement. A guy who says yes to everything is not someone I would want to work with. Having a person who knows his/her abilities, and only does what they know they can do is a very respectable quality.

I'd like to challenge that entire yes-and-no BS and introduce the power of ask.

"Hey, how are you?" Something as simple as that can turn someone's day around and make them feel involved and welcome. When I first joined the Winnipeg Squash Club, I walked in and everybody was incredibly nice and wanted to know how my day was going. I felt extremely flattered.

Now, I realize throughout this article, I've been discussing the power of no and yes in a business context, and I'm referring to the ask concept in more of a relational setting. But the power of ask can be immediately used in business, too.

When someone asks me to do something, I feel valued because that person requires my skill and expertise. It is always nice to be recognized for what you do and feel wanted by peers or co-workers.

Same thing applies even in a club setting. Ask that girl to dance; ask to buy her a drink. Ask has the connotation of flattery behind it. It's powerful. Use it when appropriate, say no when you need to, and don't be that agreeing yes-man.

If you guys have any questions or want to challenge and/or argue with my thinking, feel free to email me: or you can hit me up on Twitter @thedavidbell. Let's chat!

David Bell (@thedavidbell) is a young entrepreneur in Winnipeg. He specializes in emerging technology and online aspects of business, including web and social media consulting. Access his company online at He is an active member of the YouTube community (, with more than two million views and 5,000 subscribers. He was also a Dragons' Den contestant. Email: .

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 9, 2012 A15

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