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  • Brandon Miller

The importance of saying "no"

Time management. I can’t stress it enough. Controlling your day is important. Deciding who to give your time and energy to is one of the most important aspects of a successful, happy life. Deciphering when to get involved and when to step away can be tough. I’ve been through it. I am currently going through it as I increase my impact off the field. Figuring out who you are and detailing what exactly you want to be involved in brings a lot more clarity to your decision-making process.

The vetting process

You have to be able to weed out the opportunities that just aren’t meant for you. In this era of heavy online communication, everyone wants to set up a zoom call to “discuss more details”. This can lead to meeting after meeting of you sitting behind your computer screen listening to people talk but not really hearing anything that piques your interest. I’ve been stuck in this situation many times and trust me, it can be frustrating.

I’m a big fan of OpenSponsorship. For those that are unaware, OpenSponsorship is a platform that connects athletes with companies for branding opportunities. The way the platform works is pretty simple. Companies post “campaigns” that outline what they are looking for. Athletes can apply to the campaign if they think it is a good fit. Ultimately, the company decides whether they want to work with the athlete or not. There is no limit to the number of campaigns you can apply for. Some companies are good about explaining their campaigns and the specifics of what they are looking for. Others post vague descriptions that intrigue you just enough to be interested but don’t leave you with enough information to really get the full scope.

When I first started on the platform, I would apply for as many campaigns as possible.

I mean, shooters shoot right? But then I started to get too many of the same messages back. “Let’s set up a time to meet and discuss more”, “Here is a link to my schedule to set up a meeting”, and the list goes on. After getting burned two or three times for way too many hours out of my day, I realized I have to be better about vetting these opportunities. I set a minimum threshold of information I need to have in order to set up a meeting. If companies haven’t met that threshold then, no matter how interested I am, I simply have to say no. The fear of missing out on an opportunity doesn’t outweigh my need for structure and sanity. Put the right system in place and the right opportunities will stream your way.

The evaluation process

So you’ve decided which opportunities you want to explore more and now you’ve set up meetings. Whether it’s zoom or in person, this is time and energy out of your day that isn’t being spent elsewhere. Understanding what you want to get out of the meeting is the best way for you to walk away feeling satisfied with your use of time.

Go into the meeting prepared so that you don’t have to set up a second meeting to get information you could have gotten in the first meeting. Be efficient with your time. Fear of missing out. Otherwise known as “FOMO”. It is a disease that most of us suffer from. I can’t remember how many nights in college I didn’t really want to go out but I also didn’t want to miss any of the potential life-changing moments that happened either. In case you were wondering, most of them weren’t life-changing. What does all of this have to do with saying no? Let me explain.

Not every opportunity that is presented to you is going to be the right opportunity for you. Over the past 3 months, I’ve looked at no less than 6 pitch decks from various companies and individuals looking for investment in their business plans. All of their presentations were enticing and all of them are great people who I enjoyed talking to. Every presentation touted how important their product or service was and what important people they already had involved. They knew which buttons to press to make you feel like this was a must-have opportunity. Surely if Ochocinco is involved then I have to get involved as well, right?

WRONG. That may have been the right move for him but doesn’t make it the right move for me or you. Understanding what you want and who you want to be involved with is key. How can this opportunity bring value to you? What value do you bring? These are key questions that can help you make important decisions. The more you commit yourself to, the less time you will have. You can’t jump at every opportunity presented to you simply because you’re afraid of missing out on it. Trust your process and the right opportunities will find you.

The final decision process

I haven’t met very many people who enjoy delivering bad news. Many people are afraid of the reaction they will receive when telling people “no”. Instead of saying no, people commit themselves to projects or tasks that they have absolutely no desire to be involved in. More time wasted. Don’t talk yourself out of a decision simply because you’re worried about how someone else will feel about it. This is your life. This is your time. Do with it what YOU see fit, not what other people want you to do. Trust me, I get it. Saying no can be hard. Over the past year, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to be involved with a lot of great investments, projects, and non-profit work. But you can’t do it all. As much as I want to be involved with everything that interest me, I know that I have a finite amount of time and energy so I have to use it wisely. Once you’ve decided on the opportunities that are for you and the ones that aren’t, stand firm in your decision and move forward.

Rejection is a part of life. You probably aren’t the first “no” they’ve heard and you definitely won’t be the last. Just because it wasn’t right for you now doesn’t mean there won’t be opportunity in the future. As long as you stay the course, your system of identifying opportunities and managing your time will take you in the right direction towards success.


How do you manage your time? Do you find it hard to say no to people? I would love to hear your experience so share some of your thoughts! If you have any questions or want to discuss any parts of the article, feel free to reach out to me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn!

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