“No” isn’t a Dead-End — It’s a Door Opener

August 27th, 2014 | hellofearless

By Emily Belden


This is going to come as a shock. But one of my favorite words that I hear regularly, as it relates to my being a businesswoman, is “no.” Allow me to explain.

We all have at least one thing we are really good at, right? And sometimes, that one thing can be monetized. For me, my talent is writing and thankfully it was easy for me to mind-map how I could turn something I loved into an asset. That said, I started the venture of becoming an author.

After I finished writing 65,000 words about what it was like to grow up as a real-life Bridget Jones who had a thing for hard alcohol and bad boys, I knew I had something good. The problem was: no one else did. So I did my research and compiled a database of the top 100 literary agents in the United States, Canada, and Europe. I knew everything about these people, from what they tweeted about to how many cats they had. And based on how much presumed chemistry we had, I pitched my book to them in a buttoned-up proposal thinking it was only a matter of time before this all was a done deal.

Flash forward to receiving my first five responses (spoiler alert: they were all “no”) and there I was crying on my bathroom floor wondering if my pint of Ben & Jerry’s was in still in the freezer.

No, this doesn’t appeal to us.

No, we are too busy with authors who already have 20 best-selling novels.

No, unless you’re willing to rewrite the book and make it about unicorns instead.

The list went on and on and it was enough to make anyone want to quit. But then I realized something truly empowering.

Not a single one of the “no’s” I received had anything to do with me not being good enough.


Conversely, all of my “no’s” came with a reason; which I took as free advice for how to do better.

So instead of wasting time believing that I might not be good enough, I instead chose to believe in something a little more feasible: that there was still the possibility that someone could say “yes” to me.

With each passing “no,” I upped my game, making one small tweak at a time that transformed me from a total newbie to a force to be reckoned with. I could sense my proposal bulking up; looking and feeling better than ever. With that, I eventually started to look forward to my next rejection letter, as I knew it would help uncover something else that would make my product stronger.

And right when it was supposed to happen for me, it did. My book proposal was mentioned in Forbes Magazine as an example of how people were interfacing with traditional industries in bold, new ways. Flash bulletin: bold and new only became adjectives to describe my proposal after I was told “no” and rebounded by making the necessary changes to come back swinging.

The key take-away is this: “no” isn’t a dead-end. It’s a door opener. And while you may think that life would be a lot easier if it was just one green light after the next, all that would mean is that you could go fast! You could zoom through! You could coast! But that’s not real life. That’s a ride at Six Flags.

As it pertains to achieving entrepreneurial greatness, my advice is this:

embrace being told “no.”


Let it slow you down, sometimes even stop you, so that you can pay the necessary tolls.  Because those tolls will be the greatest investment in your future.

No doubt about that.



BELDEN12>> Emily Belden is the author of the best-selling memoir, Eightysixed: Life Lessons Learned, a snarky take on the old-fashioned notion of finding true love in the big city. Today, Emily lives with her husband, Ryan, and their two rescue pit bulls in Chicago, where she’s constantly on a quest for a good sandwich.  Her next book, a novel called Faker, is due out in 2015. Connect with her on Instagram, Twitter, or via her website.


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