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The Process of Asking for NOs:

{ By Emily McDonald }

Today I want to talk about one of the best things I have done as a founder: implementing the practice of “asking for nos” into my daily life. I started doing this in 2015 ago and still do it today.  It has resulted in a lot of big wins and also has changed how I operate and face rejection.  

When I first decided to do this, I set a goal that I needed to get 20 people a month to say no to me.  This idea was born from a realization that I was holding myself back because I was scared of putting myself and The Stylist LA out there.  So I made it a game.  The goal was simple: get 20 nos each month.  So I started asking for things.  I asked to be featured on blogs (it was 2015 after all), I reached out to influencers to work with, I asked KTLA to do a segment on The Stylist LA (they did), and more.  After doing this for a few months I was more and more motivated to ask for big things.  It started to be a fun game to think of what I would ask for.  

When 2016 started, I was ready to take it to the next level.  First, I asked Surf Air for a free flight up to SF to scout locations for our next showroom location.  They said yes.  That was the only time I have flown on a small, private plane.  I got tickets to see Jen Sincero (author of You Are a Badass) when she came to LA and I asked her team if I could be one of the two people featured onstage with her.  They said yes and it resulted in an incredible 30-minute on-stage heart-to-heart.  I got my fair share of nos during this time, but the yeses were so fun that I didn’t mind.

The most transformative “nos” that I asked for were when I Instagram messaged the last 4 girls on the Bachelor for Ben Higgin’s season.  I promise if you aren’t a Bachelor fan, there is still a lesson here.  I did this before sliding into DMs was a thing.  I remember I had a specific notebook where I kept track of the “crazy” things I was asking for.  And I remember writing down that I had messaged each of them.  It was so simple, but miraculously they needed The Stylist LA as much as The Stylist LA needed them.  Lauren Bushnell had won that season and needed outfits for her media tour.  JoJo Fletcher was runner-up, but was going to be the Bachelorette and had a period where she needed outfits before she was assigned the show stylist.  Becca Tilley needed an outfit for the Women Tell All episode.  It was the perfect timing.  These partnerships catapulted The Stylist LA to the next level.  We gained tens of thousands of Instagram followers, A LOT of new customers, press, media opportunities, and plenty of sales.  It was a big moment for us.  And again, I need to stress, that dressing people on Instagram was not a thing yet.  It was a creative idea on my part that came about because I was trying to reach for things that seemed “out there.”These partnerships wouldn’t have happened without my “asking for nos” practice. 

There are a few parts of “asking for nos” that are important:

1.  It forces you to get creative.  If you are purposely asking for things you think you might get a no too, you are stretching for things that may not seem possible.  This is a great thing for you and your business.  You never know when someone might say yes.  I am a big believer in jumping and figuring it out on the way down. 

2.  Getting nos is no longer a blow to your ego.  When you make a game like this, rejection is a routine part.  It is just another tally on your list. 

3.  Rejection is actually good for new businesses.  It gives you data on what people have hesitancy around.   You do NOT need to take every single no to heart and take each reason as the ultimate truth, but if you see a commonality in the nos, it usually will give you some helpful feedback for your business. 

4. Asking for things consistently makes your messaging better.  When people say no to you, you can tweak how you ask them.  Are you explaining your offer clearly and concisely?  As you ask for things, you get better at explaining what you are building.  And that is huge.

I still ask for nos.  And honestly, I’m a risk-taker, so I love asking for big things and the thrill of waiting for an answer.  I actually sent two LinkedIn messages last week that gave me a thrill of WOOO, I can’t believe I just asked for that.  It is truly a game for me now and it has helped in so many ways.  When I was fundraising for The Stylist LA, I pitched over 150 investors.  We have 12 investors on our cap table, so plenty of my meetings resulted in nos.  It was tough, but I kept a spreadsheet of every single meeting and every single no.  I tried to get as many “nos” as possible, because I knew that statistically, to get yeses, I needed to get a lot of nos.

So my advice to you, get creative in asking for things and reframe nos as a good thing.  And my mission for you: ask for some big things this week!  You can do it.

Questions? Let me know!