As a marketing speaker and marketing coach, I work with clients who are themselves gurus in their own fields - executives, entrepreneurs, speakers, authors, and consultants.
If you're like these folks, you are maxed out - very busy with your own projects, books, speaking schedule, and consulting clients.
And - at the same time - if you're doing things right, you are being asked to do more. Guest posts on other people's blogs, endorsements for other people's books and programs, contributing to online groups, etc.
You can't do it all - and you shouldn't.
You simply have to say no.
After asking hundreds of people for hundreds of favors in my professional career - because you can't do anything great alone - I've come to realize that there is a RIGHT way to say no - and many WRONG ways to say no.
The right way(s) always include the following:
- Not about your ego
- Honors the person asking for the favor
The wrong way(s) tend to share the following characteristics:
- Centered around your ego
- Filled with hype about your own "big" projects
- Diminishes the person asking for the favor
Here's a template you can start to use that meets all the criteria of the right way:
To: Recipient asking you for favor
Thank you for your email and kind words - much appreciated.
Unfortunately, my schedule is jammed and I'm unable to add any new projects or commitments. Sorry!
I wish you tremendous success with your [book, blog, conference, project]!
-- [Your name]
* A version of this note originally came from the awesome Guy Kawasaki when I asked him for a book endorsement for the new Do It! Marketing book. He said no - many other gurus whom I respect generously said yes.
Side note #1: Along the way to asking many smart, busy people for some pretty big favors, I picked up several key patterns about success and successful people. First among those - and this surprised me - some of the biggest names answer their own email. No gatekeeper, no screener. You send an email. They get it. They respond. (Rumor has it they also put on their pants one leg at a time.) It was the mid-level gurus (still NY Times bestselling authors and 5-figure speakers, mind you) who had the team of minions and assistants.
Side note #2: The true professionals respond to requests FAST. It almost seems that the more email they get, the faster they've learned to filter, sort, process and respond. Again, it was more the has-beens and the wannabes who took a long time to respond. Or didn't respond at all.
Side note #3: Gurus need favors, too. On several occasions, the gurus I asked for help, in turn, asked me to help them. One multi-million copy selling author asked me to post a review on amazon of the book that I genuinely praised in my initial note. Another guru asked me to blurb his newest book. A third asked me to spread the word on his newest Kindle ebook during it's free promotion. Important: These return favors were NEVER presented as pre-conditions or requirements for me to get what I wanted. In all these cases, the guru provided what I asked for. And THEN they asked for my help. It was the true law of reciprocity in action. Never assume that you have nothing of value to offer the rock stars in your world.
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