Default to Yes

Prior to joining, I spent the previous ten years as a serial entrepreneur. One of the challenges of entrepreneurship is that your time and resources are very limited. This means that it is important to set boundaries — in other words, you generally have to default to “no”.

  • Can we expand internationally? — “no”
  • Should we attend that conference? — “no”
  • Do you want to meet with this potential partner? — “no”

Per Paul Graham’s advice, this is the correct approach — an early stage entrepreneur should be focused on talking to customers and building product. However, what if you are in an industry that is new to you? How do you know when to say “no” vs. “yes”? In fact, saying “no” can actually be the opposite of what you need to thrive.

GiveCrypto is a charity that gives cryptocurrency to people in need. Due to the fact that I have no charity or crypto experience, I decided to ignore my intuition and default to “yes” in most situations.

  • Do you want to attend this event? — ”yes”
  • Can we meet for a coffee? — ”yes”
  • Would you like to run an experiment in country X? — ”yes”

Instead of jumping to judgement quickly, I willed myself to embrace a positive openness and have felt a certain degree of liberation when I deliberately try to ignore my own intuition.

There’s an improv comedy technique called “yes, and…” Basically, a good scene relies on partners providing each other with continuous additional information; saying “yes, and (new piece of additional information).” If you’re onstage and say “no,” or disagree with your partner’s information, this means no future dialogue can occur — the scene is over.

Likewise, saying “no” in life makes serendipitous events and connections far less likely. Cryptocurrency is a new field, and if we want those beautiful moments to occur, we have to allow ourselves the good fortune of going off a preconceived path.

For instance, I was recently introduced to a potential partner that didn’t seem like a natural fit. Rather than follow my intuition and decline the meeting, I agreed to hop on a call and learn more. We have since run a number of interesting experiments and are brainstorming much more ambitious projects. They are a wonderful group of people and we have already done a lot of impactful work together.

My newfound openness has allowed me to come up to speed much faster. I’ve met so many influential people in my space, and I’m also challenging myself to think in new ways. Of course, this can sometimes lead to a lot of meetings that lead to nothing (i.e. kissing some frogs), but I have gotten a great lay of the land and did find a few gems that I probably would have ignored if I had taken the normal approach of saying “no” to most new opportunities.