Seth Godin said NO: Why I’m Thankful Anyway

By on Dec 2, 2013 | 2 comments

Let me preface this post first by saying that I absolutely hate being told no.

About anything.

And as an author, as an entrepreneur, as an artist, and as a business owner, being told no isn’t just something that happens on occasion.

It’s something that happens a lot.

Especially when you’ve only been at it for a handful of years.

But today I’m going to tell you why I’m actually thankful about the fact that Seth Godin turned down a business proposal that I sent him last night.

See, I read a post of Seth’s a few days ago about “what no means”.


This is what he had to say:

What “no” means

  • I’m too busy
  • I don’t trust you
  • This isn’t on my list
  • My boss won’t let me
  • I’m afraid of moving this forward
  • I’m not the person you think I am
  • I don’t have the resources you think I do
  • I’m not the kind of person that does things like this
  • I don’t want to open the door to a long-term engagement
  • Thinking about this will cause me to think about other things I just don’t want to deal with

What it doesn’t mean:

  • I see the world the way you do, I’ve carefully considered every element of this proposal and understand it as well as you do and I hate it and I hate you.

    (original post here)

Having read that last week really changed my perspective on being told no. It helped me realize that we are all subject to a huge number of factors that influence our decisions, whether we realize it or not.

I have struggled with overcoming feelings of personal rejection anytime someone says no to an idea of mine for as long as I can remember, but when I checked my e-mail this morning and saw a short, to the point reply from Seth letting me know that he wouldn’t be able to work with us at this point in time, I breathed a sigh of relief.

Why? Because I tried anyway.

Designed by Laura and Ryan Rhoades of

Designed by Laura and Ryan Rhoades of

My wife and I are designers by trade – and we had even made some custom images to send over with our proposal as examples of what we could offer Seth & his team.

We put time, energy, thought, and passion into the proposal and these images. But we were still turned down – and that’s okay.

Sure, we didn’t get a client that I would love the opportunity to work with – but I’m finally getting to a point where I am learning to take the “no’s” in stride and keep charging forward.

I have made a conscious choice to not attach myself to any specific outcomes that I see in my head (thanks Maria) – because we all know how well and how often things turn out exactly as we expect them to!

Yeah, Seth Godin turned us down. But we got two really great portfolio pieces out of it, and a blog post to encourage you to not give up when the big boys don’t want to play.

Seth’s own words on his post were what inspired me to at least give it a shot.

I can rest in the fact that at this point, he doesn’t see the world the way that I do. I can trust that he may not have carefully considered every element of the proposal I sent and might not understand exactly where I was coming from.

He may have hated the designs we sent over, but that doesn’t mean he hates us.

And you can take comfort in knowing that when someone you’re trying to reach out to with an idea, a proposal, or even a relationship tells you “no” – that you’re one step closer to that one “yes” that will turn everything around.

You’re one step closer to that “yes” that will have you doing cartwheels of joy and crying tears of laughter after all of your hard work finally pays off.

Mark down the no’s, breathe a sigh of thankfulness for the opportunity to even be told no by someone who’s insanely busier than you are, and move on to the next one.

This is a numbers game, like it or not.

When I was in sales, the training was simple: get the no’s out of the way as early as possible.

Swing for the bleachers and don’t take it personal when you miss – you never know when that next pitch will be a home-run.

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Created by Laura and Ryan Rhoades of

Created by Laura and Ryan Rhoades of

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Ryan J. Rhoades

CEO & Lead Multimedia Producer at Reformation Designs
Ryan & his wife Laura are a media design team based in Salem, OR. They have worked with people from all walks of life: tech giants, authors, speakers, coaches, pastors, students and entrepreneurs. They specialize in many forms of multimedia creation including graphic art and design, video production and social media marketing. They offer many types of design resources for sale and you can buy Ryan's latest book here.

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  • John Anderson

    The guy said ‘No’ and you’re still plugging him…. I’d say that’s a positive mental attitude on your part. You are so right about the knock backs and taking it in your stride.

    Good work, nice site. Keep at it!



    • Ryan Rhoades

      Thanks John –

      I’ve learned heaps from Seth – we’ve e-mailed back and forth a few times over the years so I figured it couldn’t hurt to at least give it a shot! But either way, I was appreciative of the fact that he even responded. I guarantee he’s a lot more busy than I am :)

      – Ryan