How Saying “No” Has Made Me Successful

How Saying “No” Has Made Me Successful

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium

You are allowed to say no to work you don’t want to do.

When I first started my business, I said yes to everything. You need a press release? Sure! You want help with a sales strategy? Of course! Oh, you need me to design the information architecture for your new website? Why not!

I didn’t know how to do half the things I said yes to. But I kept saying yes.

I learned. I researched and figured it out, and the clients had no idea it was the first time. Confidence comes in handy!

Remember, being an expert doesn’t mean you know everything, being an expert means knowing that you DON’T know something are are not afraid to go find the answer. Being an expert is knowing how to find those answers.

I said yes to everything because I was at the very beginning of building my business. I didn’t have any long-term clients yet, and I was doing what I could to make money but was not completely sure what direction my business would eventually take. I also thought I needed to say yes to everything so that I could make money!

In fact, looking back now, there is no way I could have predicted where I would be now, over a year and a half later. My business has evolved, I have cultivated relationships and have clients I adore, and my focus has shifted significantly from where I started.

And saying yes to everything helped with that! I was able to try new things and discover I was good at them and enjoyed doing them. I was able to come to the realization that some things were not what I wanted to spend my time on and focus on. I recently wrote about what I learned in my first year freelancing, and it has been amazing to see the growth.

I’ve spoken before about how what happens when you’re working on things you don’t want to do, and how to break up with clients. This was something I had to learn.

I was telling my husband about how one of my clients paid well but was really pushing me into working entirely on sales and marketing projects. Things I really was not wanting to spend so much time on. But the money was good and I felt like I couldn’t turn away guaranteed income.

He looked me in the eye and said, “Isn’t the biggest perk of being an entrepreneur getting to do the work you want?”

It was like a light bulb turned on in my head. Of course, it is. That is why I became an entrepreneur in the first place!

The next day, I spoke with that client and broke up with them. It was the best decision for me and opened me up to other new possibilities.

As I continue to re-frame and evolve my business and discover new things I love to do, I am finally saying no to work. I still often say yes to interesting new things that I want to learn, but I have given myself permission to turn down paying work that I don’t want to do.

I am making really good money now, and am in a position where I am able to be aligning everything with what I WANT to be doing. I don’t need to take low-paying projects to make ends meet anymore, and I don’t want to.

When a prospective client says to me, “Well that is too much money for this.” Instead of negotiating like I did at the beginning, I simply say, “Ok, what is your budget?” And if there is no compromise to be made (less work to fit within their budget) then I walk away.

You are allowed to say no to doing things that do not fit your business model.

You are allowed to say no to someone who wants to pay you far less than what you are worth.

You are allowed to say to people you don’t want to work with — for any reason! You allowed to choose who you do and DO NOT want to work with. If someone treats you badly, or yells at you, or does not appreciate you, guess what? You have the power and authority to hop on the Nope Train and not work with them.

As my business continues to evolve, I am able to continuously find new and interesting ways to stretch my talent and grow as a person and as a business owner.

Most importantly, I continue to find things I love to do, say no to things I don’t want to do, and work with amazing people.

This allows me to also be able to work on passion projects like writing and publishing my first book 6 months ago or putting together my second book, where I have been able to put together an anthology based on the #metoo movement.

Allowing myself more space in my business to do the work I want and the projects I love has been perfect for me and allows me to continue to be creative while also continuing to grow my business.

How did you learn to say no to work? Has this been beneficial to you and your business? If you have never said no to working with someone or on something — why not?

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Tarana Burke: Continuing the #metoo Conversation

Tarana Burke: Continuing the #metoo Conversation

JS, Medium, writing

Tarana Burke was the honored guest at Stony Brook University on Sunday, January 28, 2018, where she met with politicians, students, and held a open forum to answer questions from the public.

NY State Assemblywoman Christine Pellegrino and Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn were at the event to discuss efforts in legislation for women, children, and victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

“It’s so important to ensure that this hashtag turned viral moment turned movement, turns into lasting social and cultural change that will actually reduce victimization,” said Hahn, who revealed on stage that she was also a survivor of sexual assault.

The goal of the event was “to turn awareness into action.” Coordinator Cindy Morris of The Benson Agency and CEO of i-tri, a local organization which promotes women’s and girl’s empowerment through triathlons, worked tirelessly for weeks organizing the event, the sponsors, partners, speakers, and raising money. It came together beautifully.

Tarana Burke spoke about community healing and her work over the last 20+ years in working with survivors and finding and being a resource for healing and on-going coping and survival.

Ms. Burke shared her journey, her work, and what she is doing to help people. She spoke about her feelings on the sudden explosion of the hashtag #metoo in October 2017, saying, “Honestly, I was terrified.” and explained how she spent the next month making decisions about being involved and becoming part of this huge groundswell after spending so long working on a grassroots campaign.

While friends were trying to get her to step up and take credit for the movement, Burke was focused on making sure the movement had direction and that people understood what it was all about, and not just about the original discussions of sexual harassment in the workplace, which the first Me Too posts on Twitter were talking about. On October 15, 2017, Burke posted a video on Twitter explaining what Me Too is and what the movement’s goals are and have been for the last 12 years.

“I had to decide, am I going to be in conflict or in service? There was no direction, it was just getting bigger and I had to make a choice to be involved. I did it so there was a direction and a shape to the movement, so people could know exactly what it really meant.”

Ms. Burke has gotten a lot of attention for being the founder of the Me Too Movement.

“I appreciate the accolades and recognition for founding me too. But what I know is there are thousands of us across the country…I acknowledge all those who do what they have to do to make it work.”

One question for Ms. Burke talked about men and whether they are ‘allowed’ to say me too.

“I am not going to be the person who looks at a man and tells him he isn’t allowed to say ‘me too’ and discuss his sexual assault. 1 in 6 men have been sexually assaulted or abused, most of them while they were just children. This is for all survivors.”

When talking about empathy and breaking the silence, she discussed how sharing your story is a roller coaster of emotions. It is not just about relief, it’s also about reliving the experience, and having fear about putting it out there, and healing.

“Every time we break the silence, we give others permission to, as well.”

On sympathy and empathy.

“When we tell our story, the first thing people say is, ‘I’m so sorry that happened to you.’ They don’t mean to, but they are putting space between the two of them. Often, the survivor ends up in the weird position of trying to comfort the other person, saying, ‘Oh, no it’s okay…’ What we need to be doing is simply asking the survivor, ‘What do you need right now? How can I help you?’ Bring each other together, not separate.”

In her mission to continue the conversation, Ms. Burke absolutely succeeded. The audience of a few hundred hung on her words and were actively engaged in the discussion.

Ms. Burke was incredible. She is so grounded and real and very intentional in her work and how she speaks to people. She was a joy to listen to and I left the event feeling more ready than ever to be a part of the conversation and the solution for ongoing healing.

The #metoo event at Stony Brook University was sponsored by i-tri, L.I. Against Domestic Violence, Protect NY Kids, AFT, TD Bank, The Safe Center LI, VIBS Family Violence and Rape Crisis Center, Crime Victims Center, and the Association for Mental Health & Wellness.

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#MeToo the Book — Share Your Story

#MeToo the Book — Share Your Story

Books, Entrepreneur, JS, writing

I have been deeply inspired by the sharing and bravery of the people who told their story while #metoo swept social media in the last weeks. I have also been a victim of sexual harassment and assault, and I think it is more important than ever that we continue to talk about, continue to provoke conversation, and refuse to be victims.

I am putting together a book of stories based on the #metoo movement.

Are you interested in telling your story?

Hi, my name is Jyssica Schwartz. I am a 31-year-old writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. If you’d like more information about me, please feel free to check out my websiteblogInstagramTwitter, or book. This is a sensitive topic and I will be open and honest with all of you. Reach out to me with questions, concerns, and stories.

I have been very open about writing about mental health and my anxiety in my entrepreneurship journey and I continue this refusal to be a part of stigmatizing difficult topics with this book. As an author, I have the capacity and ability to put this project together using professional editors, cover designers, formatters, etc.

Submissions

If you would like to participate, please submit your story (no minimum length requirement, but please keep it under 3000 words) either to me by email at jyssica.schwartz@gmail.com or uploading it to upload it to Google drive here.

  • Make sure you include a title (if you want one), a first name, age, and location either in the filename of the document or at the top of the document itself.
  • I have been asked if contributors can be anonymous – YES. Use a fake first name or just “Anonymous,” but please still include your age and location.
  • This is open to ALL genders, ages, races, nationalities, everything. There will be no discrimination. If you submit, you will be included.
  • You are NOT being asked to pay anything at all. It is 100% free to be involved. I am currently planning to self-fund this project.

There is no length requirement, but here are some things to consider:

  • Think about not just the incident itself but the way you felt afterward, what steps you took, and why you did or did not report it.
  • Were you raised hearing things like “boys will be boys” or being told not to wear certain things because it might “distract the boys” or cause problems?
  • What might you do differently now or tell people now about these situations?
  • Your story is subject to general editing (not for content).

It could be anything from realizing we’re raised to expect it to how you feel about harassment to anything deep or light-hearted. I genuinely want different perspectives and views. It can be short or long, but I am looking for raw honesty. You would not need to be fully identified.

This movement has certainly highlighted the fact that almost all women are harassed so often that we ignore it and don’t talk about it, but I think we should.

This project is open to both men and women and you can stay anonymous with just a first name (even a pseudonym), age and country as the location.

This book

  • Will be open to all ages, genders, and nationalities. Diversity is encouraged and completely welcome.
  • Does not differentiate between types of stories. If it was verbal harassment or something far worse, your story deserves to be heard.
  • Will be self-published and available as both an ebook and a paperback.
  • Will be professionally edited.
  • Will have a professional cover and interior formatting.
  • Will have an introduction by me, likely based on a blog post I recently wrote about this topic (Unless someone more famous [which is basically everyone] is interested in being involved and wants to write a foreword/introduction!).

This book is for all of us.

A Few Statistics

  • 70% of sexual harassment incidents in the workplace are not reported (source)
  • An analysis of 55 representative surveys found that about 25 percent of women report having experienced sexual harassment, but when they are asked about specific behaviors, like inappropriate touching or pressure for sexual favors, the share roughly doubles. Those numbers are broadly consistent with other survey findings. (source)
  • In 2015, 6,822 sexual harassment claims were filed with the EEOC. 17.1 percent of those cases were filed by men. (source)
  • Perpetrators of sexual violence are less likely to go to jail or prison than other criminals. In fact, out of every 1000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free. (Source)
  • Only 344 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. That means about 2 out of 3 go unreported. (source)
  • Members of the military: 43% of female victims and 10% of male victims reported. (source)
  • In 2016, the EEOC released a comprehensive study of workplace harassment in the United States, which concluded that “anywhere from 25% to 85% of women report having experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.”
  • Almost two-thirds of male and female college students interviewed said they have encountered some type of sexual harassment while attending a university, about a third of which included physical contact such as being grabbed or touched in a sexual manner. (source)

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