Go for No

"What did the customer say no to? – nothing? – then how did you know he was done (had bought all he was going to)?"

- Go for No, page 28

The storyline of Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz’s Go for No is genius. It’s something we all wish was possible: get a glimpse now of what will happen in our future. We learn all of the concepts of Going for No by hearing “successful Eric” talking to “not-so-successful Eric” of 10 years ago.  Despite the fact that Eric is a salesperson, the concepts from Go for No are universally applicable.   Since the risk of rejection is what stops most of us from trying things, we all need to learn to reframe the word “No”.

I really loved the reminders from the book about the jobs where failing is a common occurrence – baseball players getting back up to bat, doctors serving the next patient after one died, an entrepreneur starting a restaurant, inventors. There are also examples of people in jobs who kept going after failures – Abraham Lincoln, Babe Ruth, Colonel Sanders, Thomas Edison, to name a few.  In all these cases, it’s often the successes we focus on and remember, sometimes forgetting about the “failures” all together.  It’s so important that we are reminded that the failures are a part of the path to success.

The steps for implementing the concepts of Go for No are so succinct that after reading the book’s seventy-four, large print, lots-of-white space pages, I find I don’t even have to look at my notes to rewrite them:

  • Most people are looking for a Yes, so they stop when they get one and limit their success by taking themselves out of the game (set daily or weekly goals for how many No’s you’ll get, not how many Yes’s).
  • When looking for people who’ll say Yes you need to fail faster so you can get on to the next person who may be the Yes (start by asking for the sale so you can move on to the next person if they say No).
  • No just means not yet (people say No 4 times before they say Yes so keep track of the number of No’s per person and plan to go back).
  • Next after hearing No, a failure, go onto the next person. (Of course think about and learn from what happened, but go on to the next person quickly.)
  • You need to want to fail, not just be willing to (believing this will make you keep trying to fail and eventually you’ll not fear it/dislike it as you see that it will get you to more successes).


The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

The Virtues of Failing

"Failure is the halfway mark on the way to success."
- Go for No, page 29

How many sales have I happily made (ideas to my boss/staff/co-workers and products/services to customers) thinking that I got exactly what I wanted, a Yes?  Now I wonder, was I thinking too small in my ask?  Had I gotten some No’s (4 of them) on the way to Yes I’d know for sure I’d done my best.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Fail Eagerly

"Set goals for the number of No’s you’re going to get each week."
- Go for No, page 46

Being innately competitive as a species, we have a natural desire to reach any goals we set for ourselves (or are set for us). Setting failure goals is a way to be excited about failing/hearing the word No.  Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.” So go out and try, even if you may hear the word No!

And crucially important for managers/companies – to help staff succeed, we need to reward failure – recognize it as an essential part of getting to yes – or no matter what, people will still work for Yes and therefore avoid No.  We work for what we get rewarded for!

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Next – The Magic Word

"Failure Quotient – how many times is a person willing to fail before succeeding?"
-  Go for No, page 50

As I was reading I was thinking – what could make me want to implement this concept? What makes people be able to overcome decades of not wanting to hear no, to now embracing it? And then I realized that the people the authors use as examples have something in common (Colonel Sanders, Babe Ruth, Allen Breed – who? Read the book and you’ll see), they have passion for what they’re doing. If you don’t have passion, Go for No will be harder to implement because your only reward will be hitting your No goals – likely not enough to make it worth it to fail and fail and fail and fail (that was 4 times!).


When I first started reading Go for No, the storyline felt a little hokey. But seriously, stick with it. It’s a short book so it’s only a few pages before you get to the concept of Go for No – a concept that is so clearly what you need to be doing that you’ll forget that it was a hard start.

The authors and the reviewers promised a book with a concept that will change your life and if you apply it, it will! Heard that before and found yourself not applying? The couple of things the author says to do to apply Go for No are so succinct that it’s easy to get started failing!

“Yes is the destination – No is how you get there.”

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Carolyn B. Thompson

ABOUT Carolyn B. Thompson

I’m proud to be a Renaissance Man – dog mom, singer, water skier, Christian, gardener, trainer, business owner, cook, baker, swimmer, reader, crafts, Christmas decorator, vegetable lover who eats fish & meat, mocha drinker, iced tea drinker, believer that chocolate desserts are a major food group, walker/runner, exerciser, movie watcher, writer, former work road warrior mainly to do conference keynotes & bookstores, 3 children in their mid-30s w/5 grandchildren under 6 yrs old.
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