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A Foolproof Way to Get Better at Saying ‘No’, and Seven More Tips For November




Just Say No

Probably a week doesn’t pass where most of us don’t wish we were better at saying no; no to a request for a discount, no to a staff’s request for time off; no to a plea to help out on the school fundraising committee. Sure, it feels good to say yes, but soon enough we are paying the price financially or as other important activities are compromised. Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist blog, suggests a good strategy to deal with this is to try feel instantly and viscerally the pain of having to keep your promise. He says, ask yourself, “If I had to do this today, would I agree to it?” And if that doesn’t work, try this more extreme approach: Adopt a rule that any new task, if accepted, must become your new priority and everything else must be dropped for you to work on it. “The insight here is that every time we say “yes” to a request, we are also saying “no” to anything else we might accomplish with the time. “It pays to take a moment to think about what those things might be,” says Hartford, who often includes his wife as a BCC on “Sorry but no” notes. “The awkward email to the stranger is also a tiny little love letter to her,” he says.

A Foolproof Way to Get Better at Saying ‘No’, and Seven More Tips For November

Jeff Grosekemper’s team of sled-pulling dogs has become an important holiday tradition at Casa De Oro Eyecare.

Find a Tradition

More than anything else, Christmas is about the exchange of warm fuzzy feelings and tradition, even if that tradition involves nine small stuffed dogs pulling a larger stuffed dog in a sleigh. “Every year I bring out the team and the patients love it and bring family members by just to see the team,” explains Jeff Grosekemper of Casa De Oro Eyecare Optometry, Spring Valley, CA. The “team” was created by a Kenmark rep, Marg Agrusa, almost 20 years ago, when they carried the Hush Puppies line as part of a Christmas display contest. “I’ve been offered money for the pups but won’t give them up. They’re one of a kind.”

Failure Wall

If risk-taking, innovation and transparency are habits you want to promote in your business you may want to consider a “failure wall” — a flat space preferably in your back room where you and staff can share your “growth lessons” with each other. “Something magical happens to failure when it’s openly acknowledged,” writes business author Jeff Stibel in a column. “Paradoxically, it becomes less of a big deal. The idea of failure is often the elephant in the room that no one wants to mention.”

On a Tray

The primary job of an optical retailer is to help customers make the right choice while being careful not to overwhelm them with too many options. Holly Forstad, the optical manager at Rivertown Eye Care, in Hastings, MN, does this with an added touch of style in the form of a carefully edited selection of frames presented on a specially hand-crafted glass tray. “There is still the occasional client who wants to try on every single frame on display, but we have been surprised by how often our clients are relieved that we have made the process so easy and enjoyable for them,” she writes in a blog on, adding. “And of course, always include sunwear.”


Focus on Your Breath

To sound persuasive — either when you’re talking to a patient or giving a sales-floor presentation — it’s crucial you learn to harness your breath, says Allison Shapira, a lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. In a recent column in the Harvard Business Review, Shapira recommends standing tall, shoulders back and resonating confidence. Put one hand on your bellybutton and one hand on your chest. Breathe deeply into your stomach and then take note which hand moves. (It should be the lower one). “Then exhale slowly, and speak ‘on the breath,’” she says.

Cross It Off

If you use a to-do list to guide your tasks through the week, leave your “done” items at the top as you knock them off, suggests productivity website Lifehacker. The feeling of accomplishment will help you get through the other items.

Two-Second Fix

A Foolproof Way to Get Better at Saying ‘No’, and Seven More Tips For November

Stop slouching, and start smiling.

Your parents were right: Stop slouching. “If you take on a collapsed position, it really shifts the physiology,” Erik Peper, a professor of health education at San Francisco State University, told Bloomberg, adding that tests have shown that slouchers’ testosterone levels go down, cortisol levels go up, and they have more helpless thoughts. Luckily, the opposite happens when you sit up, stretch or even better, skip on the spot for just 10 seconds.

Sweater Weather

Kick off a holiday tradition that your followers can participate in on your social media channels. Spex, with 24 locations in Chicago, holds an annual Ugly Sweater contest each December. Search Instagram and Twitter for #SpexySweaterFest to see how well its done for them. Come up with your own fun hashtag, that’s half the fun!

This Email Will Self-Destruct

Ever wanted an email address that you could discard like a pair of disposable chopsticks? 10 Minute Mail ( is for you. Whitepaper downloaded, anonymous comment posted, whatever — once you’re done, pull the pin and walk away.




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