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February 11, 2010

The importance of the No-Yes: balancing boundaries and opportunity

This is another installment of thoughts and takeaways from our conversations with designer and entrepreneur, Selia Yang. We are focusing on Selia as a part of our inFOCUS series and are excited for the culminating soiree at the end of the month.

In addition to the focus on Business Direction and Goals (Selia’s decision to go bridal), and her keen awareness of her business values (‘Every dress that leaves here must be perfect to our capacity’), Selia talked with us about the importance of balancing boundaries and opportunities.

In particular, we talked about her use of the “no, yes”.


Another thing we learned form Selia was the importance of the “No, Yes”. As a small but growing shop, Selia has had to juggle honoring her boundaries while creatively finding ways to expand markets and relationships.

We can certainly relate to this. There are always lots of things that we want to do and/or are asked to do but don’t have the resources, finances, or bandwidth. Often for us, a “no” is not really a negotiating tactic or a cop-out but instead an honest understanding of our boundaries and limits. And our boundaries and limits are important. They help to ensure we stay on track and aren’t too overextended. But Selia made us think about saying no differently.

Selia told us about the importance of saying “no, yes”- which is sticking to your guns while also finding a way to create some possibility or opportunity, even if it is different or on a smaller scale then first imagined. An example she shared was about a retail shop that wanted to purchase 7 of her dresses on net60 terms. Since this was more leverage than Selia was comfortable with in a new relationship, she declined and then suggested that they instead by 2 dresses at a time. They would take a little longer to build their collection but in the meantime the relationship could build and the company could perhaps adopt shorter terms since they were outlaying less.

What do you too frequently have to say no too?

How can you come up with a “no, yes” option or solution?

Can you think of times that you have successfully employed a “no, yes”? How did it work out?

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