Say Yes to The Yes People

One day last week, I got an email from the assistant of someone I know and respect very highly. The email was asking me to do something. A close reader would’ve realized that it would take more than 5 minutes (actually 20 to 40 times as long), but I didn’t read it closely. Instead, I just said yes.

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Because the assistant was the assistant of one of my Yes People.

My Yes People, in case it’s murky, are people I say yes to.

Not because their ask fits within my personal goals. Not because I have endless time. Not because I have boundless energy. And not because I don’t have lots of other things going on, like a small child underfoot or an inbox to faint over.

The Yes People are people you say yes to because that’s the way it is.

They invite you to jump, and you jump. High. They ask you to do a favor and you do it. Stat. They need advice and you tell them all you know.

There are many reasons for doing so. She is your BFF, say. He is your casual friend, otherwise known as the President of the United States. She is hurting and needs help in this season. He helped you out at a dark time in your life and you’ll have his back forever.

The point, though, is not to dig deep and unpack why they are your Yes People, because honestly most of us can feel it in our bones if someone is one of those people for us (and why bother wasting brainpower on things you know in your bones, right?). The point, really, is to know you have them, figure out who they are, and then memorize the short list. That way, when those people come to you and ask you for something, you don’t have to think.

You know the answer.

Yes People are a good thing. Having Yes People might really be one of the best things. So figure out who yours are and hold them close. Shower them with glitter, and never say No.



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6 thoughts on “Say Yes to The Yes People

  1. So many people miss this point as they get so focused on what is in it for them and sabotage themselves into saying no to get out of something rather than building the relationship with the yes. In order to gain respect we must first give it, in turn by saying yes to those in our lives both work and personal that have earned it.

  2. A great topic, and post. Here is a favorite quote of mine, from University of Connecticut President Michael Hogan: “My first word of advice is this: Say Yes. In fact, say yes as often as you can. Saying yes begins things. Saying yes is how things grow. Saying yes leads to new experiences, and new experiences will lead you to knowledge and wisdom….An attitude of yes is how you will be able to go forward in these uncertain times.”

  3. I enjoyed “Yes People” so much! I like the way you certainly “opened up” that term/expression and also the way you made me think about who my “yes people” are. Some are my “Of course! People.” The difference is minuscule, but it’s there, for me, anyway. Occasionally, someone will come along, and he or she doesn’t even have to finish the request, “Would you . . . ?” “Yes! Of course. What do you want me to do?” These are the most trusted of the “Yes People.” They will not put a noose around my neck or an anvil on my head.

    Your writing is light and lively, and I fully understand why you won a big creativity award. I will definitely Twitter you for good.

    Thank you for your delightful presence in a world that needs as many “delightful presences” as possible!

    Bonnie Roberts
    Poet, editor, publisher, environmental, political, and social activist–all that, and even though I’m old.

  4. Claire, love it. One of my favorite topics. I think you’ve identified something everyone probably does but perhaps just don’t realize it. There are a handful of individuals that readily hold our respect, and if they ask, we respond right away.

    Since you asked and this is one of my favorite topics (and you have my respect because I’m still wow’d by your reading prowess!) I had to say “Yes” your call for “who are your ‘Yes’ people?” I have two basic categories:

    (1) People I work(ed) for that I respect: Looking back, I’ve realized the best positions I’ve had over the years were positions that were really more about WHO I worked for instead of the companies themselves. I didn’t really work “for the company” — I worked for my boss. If he or she asked for something, it was as good as delivered. Every stone would be uncovered no matter what it would take to get done what he/she wanted done. If I needed to improve for that person… I’m on it. These were (and still are) the best positions I’ve ever had in my career. (Incidentally, save for a few exceptions, the exceptional bosses I have had that fit this category were all women.) There is a sense in which I never stop working for those people: if they call and need something… I’m on it. And they know it.

    (2) People I know I would LIKE to work for (but don’t… yet): Very closely aligned to the first group above. I’ve seen and heard enough from them, and generally have interacted with them enough (ie. usually because they are socially engaged) and like what I see from them enough that I feel very aligned to them in core values. It’s like I “know” them already. So if I have opportunity, and they ask, since I would LIKE to work for them, I do.

    An example: I recently had the SVP of Sales and Enablement of a $19 billion international conglomerate extend a VIP invitation to me last minute, asking me to attend a grand opening event of something she had worked very hard on in California based on my social interaction and comments I had made in certain situations. (The sense for her as a person and not just an “SVP” was very mutual — fantastic person.) So even though I had to really juggle my schedule and even pay my own way, I found a way to get out there, met her for the first time, and tried to see if there was a way I could help in the area in which she had the interest (ie. IT Security). It was an inconvenience and a personal expense, but I did it. And have zero regrets about it. She’s really that good.

    The bottom line is I realize I don’t work for companies. I work for certain individuals. A handful, yes. But very worth keeping close, I totally agree.