Relentlessly Pursuing “Yes”

Richard Branson said – “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”

This is an attitude and way of thinking that I consistently encounter as I work with successful technology and financial startups in San Francisco. Start-ups are doers and they learn by doing.

There’s a short story from the book “Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking” that illustrates why doers are successful:

“The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.

“His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot -albeit a perfect one – to get an “A”.

“Well, come grading time, a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.”

Here’s what I’ve found…in corporate life you’re not allowed to fail. My success early on in my career was defined by my ability to follow a clearly laid out path.

On the other hand, as a business owner, if I don’t fail, I won’t succeed. Now I take a calculated risk and follow Richard Branson’s advice and relentlessly pursue ‘yes’. In so doing I meet with amazing opportunities and then learn how to do it later.

I’ve found that hard work and perseverance is what really pays off and it’s also what I’m trying to show business owners like you – failing makes you stronger in the long run.


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