The Power of NO


Saying no is a little known shortcut to success

In this post I will demystify the beauty, elegance & power behind saying no early and often. A power I have just recently harnessed and it is transforming my business and  life in amazing ways already.

Who knew that just putting your foot down (sometimes even to yourself) and hollering no like a 2 year old could catapult you to new levels of success and adventure?

Well now that the secret’s out let me break down exactly how you should say no, when you should say no and why that beautiful, little 2 letter word will totally transform your existence.

The Power of No

First, let me tell you what led to my “No!!!!!!” moment. A few months ago I realized that I was technically running about 4 separate businesses at the same time – even though I strongly preach against this (I know, I’m a hypocrite <insert sad face>).

Because of this I was constantly stressed out and fighting within myself when it came on what to focus on for the day, so finally out of desperation I closed the computer and went to my closet… and I started saying “no”.

My closet was my first step towards ridding my life (and business) of anything I wasn’t “in love” with and add heaps of value to my life. Don’t ask me why I started there, I just did, but boy howdy the freedom I felt when I had bagged up 4 hefty’s worth of clothing, shoes and accessories I didn’t use was unreal.

From my closet I started extending outward – purging my life of everything I didn’t use religiously and love passionately. Finally I got around to my desk and business(es). I began to purge and I have finally gotten to the point where I’ve crossed the threshold and can see the promised land (gotta love the Moses references).

I have cut down from 4 business(es) to 1 (curious, find out what it is here!)

Singularity of Purpose = Singularity of Focus

I’ve realized that I have a “purpose” in the types of businesses I’m attracted to and the general direction of my life. I am in love with the concept of changing the way the world works by using the power of the inter-web to connect good workers with good hirers (not sure if that is a word grammar geeks – don’t have a hissy).

Because of that focus when I do other things I’m not as happy, not as productive and generally not pleasant to be around. So I had to learn to say NO to everything and everyone who wanted me to focus on anything outside of this arena.

You probably have this to, one area that you are in love with. You may not be currently working in that arena and if that’s the case I’d suggest you take the plunge and do everything in your power to get as close to the market you’re enamored with as possible.

Say No, Early and Often

Virtual Zeta is my baby, it was the business I by far loved the most months ago and because of weeding out EVERYTHING else it’s finally become the business I can spend most of my time on and because of that it’s starting to thrive.

That’s right 1 business – not 2 – not 7 – not 11 “projects”. Just one. It’s amazing. It’s like a breath of fresh air while riding a flying unicorn and huffing pixie dust at the same time (note: don’t try this at home).

So say no to anything and everything that isn’t perfectly aligned w/ your n. 1 business or personal goal. Then start extending out, say no to things in your life you don’t love or feel “stuck” with… rid yourself of the extra baggage saying “yes” too much can saddle you with – and say no… no, no, no, no, no.

  • Rick H

    I threw a little bit of a hissy. Sorry! It’s so hard to say no when you are trying to make everyone happy. I think we just need to realize that we can’t.

  • Rick H

    Forgot to ask what happened to your other earring?

  • Rick H

    Forgot to ask what happened to your other earring?

  • Derek Jensen

    Haha that’s exactly what I was thinking. But in regards to the message I have improved to say no more and might say it too much now.

  • Maren Kate

    My right ear hates me and refuses to let earrings in – so to spite it I just favor my left ear and wear an earring in that exclusively.

  • Maren Kate

    Too true. Most important is to do the right thing first, and secondly make sure what you are doing is making you happy. But 1 does out rule 2 often.

  • Anonymous


    Needed this.

    I have been in “Superman” mode.

    I can do anything!

    and this is ok for a month or so then your tired and focusing on the small things.

    Totally on the money here.

    Now I have put my core tasks (this is one of them before you say what are you doing here!) down to 1 hour a day and outsource everything else.

    Put the focus in the important stuff is so hard especially when everything is fun.

    Thanks for this one great stuff


  • Andrew Walton

    I think this is something that smacks most entrepreneurs upside the head at some point. I definitely want to dive into every new idea that crosses my mind. It doesn’t work. Saying no to yourself can be just as important (and difficult) as to other people. Thankfully it’s a habit we can cultivate. Another winner Maren!


  • Pauline

    Hi Maren!

    I’ve been listening to your podcast and reading through your blog for some time now. This post compelled me to comment since I absolutely can relate to the empowering feeling of “NO” as well. I, too, have a difficult time filtering out opportunities because my personality is the type to “try everything at least once” and the concern that I’m “missing out on something” if I don’t give it a shot. The trouble is not finding something that motivates me, the problem is that I find motivation and inspiration in too many areas. What ends up happening is what you’ve stated – burnout. I’m still struggling to find focus and consistency in my career path, while still juggling a full-time job, wedding planning, and blogging. It’s a learning process, but one that I gladly go through. Thanks for the post and the reminder to say/shout “No” as often as necessary :)

  • EmilyCE

    I just left my job because I didn’t want to continue to work 60 hrs a week and get paid for 40. I highly recommend it.

  • Maren Kate

    Wow that must be one productive hour! I love it :)

  • Maren Kate

    Absolutely… it hits you like a train, and then you learn the hard way

  • Maren Kate

    It seems like that is the biggest problem most entrepreneurs struggle w/ saying no and focusing on just 1 thing at a time.. but it shows that you are a true entrepreneur when you can!

  • Maren Kate

    Good for you! What are you doing now?

  • samuel

    Awesome post Kate, Glad you use the power of NO! and paying 100% per cent attention to your outsourcing business. Thanks for sharing this post. Have fun :)

  • nathan

    Kate, I havn’t followed your blog for very long. I was wondering if you could tell me (or us who dont know) the other 4 businesses you run. Thanks!.

  • Jess Webb

    Hi Maren!

    Oooh, I love this. Was a perfect reminder to say no more often. There are definitely still things that I’m doing that I don’t really want to do and can easily eliminate! :)

  • Nicollo

    I have just fallen in love :D. Your beautiful, your smart, ambitious, and seemingly ruthless. It makes my heart melt with a soft, warm chocolate like, tenderness. Coincidentally I’m moving to California in a few months… I have to meet you before you die, you seem incredible.

  • Nicollo

    No really, The more I read… If I wasn’t already in love, I think I would of fallen in love with you this very moment O.o. Its ok, one day I’ll meet you as an equal and we can have coffee :).

  • Aelia964

    Karen I love the video blog. I totally agree with you but I believe that sometimes saying NO will raise the value of you or your stock. Great post! Oh yeah, I dont know if you noticed but your wearing only one earring in this video…TOO FUNNY!

  • Aelia964

    Maren, I love the video blog. I totally agree with you and I believe that sometimes saying NO will raise the value of you or your stock (business). Great post! Oh yeah, I dont know if you noticed but your wearing only one earring in this video…TOO FUNNY!

  • Andre

    Maren, I love the video blog. I totally agree with you and I believe that sometimes saying NO will raise the value of you or your stock (business). Great post! Oh yeah, I dont know if you noticed but your wearing only one earring in this video…TOO FUNNY!

  • Natalie Sisson

    About time miss Maren Kate otherwise I would have had to come to San Fran and kick your hot little butt. I know you love all that you do but I could see you were stretching yourself too thin and feeling stressed and overworked – as you say ironic given you’re the virtual outsourcing guru.

    Btw you’ll be proud of me hired another contractor today to get them doing stuff I don’t need to be so I can FOCUS on the important stuff.

    You go girl

    PS it seems you have an admirer in the multiple comments below


  • Ken @ Camo Nets USA

    Serial entreprenuers do this way too often. I’m done on starting more businesses! I have enough already!

  • Marnie

    I’ve noticed such a difference in my life since I started saying “no” to myself. I’m now concentrating on only one thing online – my blogging. And it’s absolutely what I love to do!

  • Maren Kate

    Thanks, yeah it has been REALLY powerful for me as of late.

  • Maren Kate

    Now it’s ONLY http://www.VirtualZeta.com is running but it’s not for profit currently – just a site for people to find programmers and designers and such.

  • Maren Kate

    It really does set you free :)

  • Maren Kate

    Aw thanks! What part of S.F. are you moving to?

  • Maren Kate

    Scratch that – I’m in S.F. :) I mean what part of California are you moving to!

  • Maren Kate

    It’s because of my stubborn left (or is that right) ear… it keeps closing up (i know TMI) but to spite it I wear an earing in what I’m now referring to as my “good” ear :)

  • Maren Kate

    Yay! That’s awesome for you :) Yeah, I was spread WAAAY too thin – I was literally killing myself. Having one solitary focus is setting me free – it’s amazing.

  • Maren Kate

    Yeah – I’m swearing to the one business at a time rule from now on :) So far it’s going well

  • Maren Kate

    If you love it then that is a GREAT start :) With a solitary focus you’ll succeed too!

  • Nicollo

    Still in awe of you lol just looking through all the threads and videos. I’m moving to santa barbara, but first I got to get my blog and online business churning in some income. Any advice for a young gun like me? Just don’t say “no” ! :(. That would make me sad :P.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Maren

    Yeah its really working, 4 weeks in crazy results.


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  • Dan

    I read this about a week ago, then had my own situation where I needed to say no. I wrote about it here:

  • Caroline McGraw

    Maren! I’ve just found your site. Way to tell it like it is. Loved this post, and (coincidentally) just finished “The art of gracefully declining” at: Kismet (or pixie dust?) must have brought us together. 😉 Cheers!

  • Natasha Neva Oconnor

    That picture…oh that picture…..that ‘No’ picture at the top of the page… it’s beautiful redness….it just changed my life. I mean I’m walking down the street into the sunset and I just SEE it in the back of my mind and I feel SO inspired! It just changed my life. It just sitting there in it’s bold redness just changed me you know?! I can’t begin to describe the beauty that is being released in my soul….I just wanna hug a tree and carve its beauty into the tree and SPREAD THE LOVE!!!!! Oh I just want to cry and live my life with it with me forever. I love you…red ‘no’ sign.

  • Maren Kate

    That’s so awesome :) reading this comment made my day!