The Power of Saying “No.”


We live in a time and a culture that puts a premium on saying “Yes.” Just do it! Seize the day! Challenge accepted! There’s definitely an allure to the romanticized notion of throwing caution to the wind and forging ahead more or less blindly. Unfortunately, society tends to focus on examples of positive outcomes when pushing for this kind of approach and to ignore or downplay the many cases where it has produced negative consequences.

When we founded Monomyth and were looking to grow our client base, we were tempted to take any and all projects offered to us. After all, these were paying clients and getting paid is a good thing! Fortunately for our agency and the companies we’ve collaborated with through the years, we didn’t (often) take the bait. Instead, we learned from others who had gone down that path and we opted to embrace the power of saying “No.”  

Saying “Yes” to the Right Engagements

Not surprisingly, we’ve had people say to us, “Isn’t focusing on ‘No’ a negative way to run a company?” To address that question, maybe we need to look at our business model from a different perspective. By declining to work with clients who aren’t a good cultural fit for us or who don’t have products or services that we believe in, we free up time and resources that enable us to say “Yes!” to clients who do meet those very important criteria.

What we’ve found is that being discerning about who we collaborate with (in the same way that we hope companies are selective about the agencies they engage with) delivers a wide range of benefits for our clients. This includes:

  • Powerful and effective marketing strategy from an agency that sees the world like they do
  • High-quality deliverables crafted by creatives who care about the company’s image
  • Ample time and resources dedicated to projects by a firm that isn’t overwhelmed with countless obligations taken on just to pay the bills
  • An agency willing to go “the extra mile” because they share the client’s passion

What’s Good for the Goose…

We adopted our approach to business because, first and foremost, it’s good for our clients. But there’s no denying that saying “Yes” to the right projects is good for our team as well. We’ve learned that doing so has a positive impact on us collectively and individually in that it:

  • Ensures we have the time and focus to do our best work
  • Gives us a sense of purpose as we craft campaigns and the creative pieces to support them
  • Provides a strong sense of accomplishment when the strategy we’ve developed with people we enjoy working with produces exceptional results
  • Results in repeat business and glowing referrals

In the Office and Beyond It

Saying “No” (and “Yes”) after careful consideration about what really matters and how the choice aligns with our values and goals has benefits that extend far beyond the office, of course. By practicing what we preach at work in other settings, we’ve found that we’re building and maintaining personal relationships on a foundation of honesty, transparency, and respect, and in the process, we’re creating time and space for life to be less stressful and more rewarding.