#FocusFriday: No Is The New Yes – Turning ‘No’ Into A Positive

By: Gordon Kaye, editor and publisher of Graphic Design USA magazine

All magazine editors stand at the crossroads of the markets they serve. We are, in essence, gatekeepers who receive, filter, translate and shape massive amounts of information into a coherent narrative that we hope is accurate, useful and engaging. This is certainly true in covering the graphic design community, which is creative, fractious, growing, changing and challenged by new social, technological and economic conditions.  Mind you, I have a wonderful job — I am not complaining — but it is one that can drown you in data, demands and disruptions if you do not remain sharply focused.

A fundamental assumption in my early editorial years was that the more open and accessible I was to information and interaction, the better job I would do. Be it a phone call, an email, a fax, a letter to the editor, an event, a dinner, a speaking invitation, a meeting, a press conference, a trade show, an industry luminary passing through, an advertiser with a pitch or a complaint, a drop-in visitor off the street — I was there to read, respond, attend. Now, twenty years later — faced with more demands, more inputs, less resources — I no longer believe that an open door policy is possible or even desirable.

Indeed, I now see that to stay true to the essence of my job, to our readership, to the publication’s purpose and commercial viability, to stay sane in a world gone mad with information clutter, I must say “no.”  To paraphrase George Bush, the elder, “Read my lips: no new faxes.”  
Of course, in 2011, faxes are not the primary problem but I see four key areas where I have put a philosophy of “no” into practice: No to the screen; No to the phone; No to availability; and No to invitations. Sound crazy? Maybe. But in my next #FocusFriday post I’ll walk you through the specifics and how it works for me.

I get that not everyone has the luxury or circumstance to “just say no.” But if you are similarly situated – setting your own priorities and not immediately accountable to others – I urge you to draw a line in the sand. Saying “no” is difficult and that is why so many people get sucked into allowing “yes” to disrupt their business, their lifestyle, their goals, their vision. But “no” is not a negative when deploying it advances your satisfaction, success and purpose. It is a positive. Here’s to a new mantra (or at least a new t-shirt): “No Is The New Yes.”


The content shared in this blog post is the author’s opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of Xerox.  #FocusFriday is a weekly conversation helping people with productivity in the office.

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