Those Who Said No

February 14, 2008

We can’t pretend that everyone we approached for Kickstart wanted to talk to us. We’re not going to name names, but a large number of people didn’t find our cold calling and light stalking to be as persuasive as others.

So why? Well, there are a number of reasons.

For some, our entreaty initiated their classic Canadian humility reflex. Some didn’t want to be associated with anythning too ‘ra-ra’ and celebratory. A lawyer told us she hadn’t been in her current position long another to be ‘worthy’ of a spot in our book. A CEO was worried that, in a year where his country performance had dipped, it wouldn’t look good if he was seen crowing about his success.

It seems the word “successful” rubs many people the wrong way. No author of “Literature,” for example, would touch us with a ten foot pole. Their sensibilities couldn’t hack even the idea of us. Perhaps there were typos in our approach letter. Yes, maybe that was it.

Pop musicians didn’t seem to like us either. In an industry that requires its players to maintain the look and feel of youthful rebellion, it may not have benefited them to be in a book with more mature business-people.

We tried and tried to convince folks that ours wasn’t a how-to book, a success rating, or a compendium of saints’ lives. But once a blush starts, it’s often tough to bring down.

At least these people said no and meant it. Others would say yes and then have their Public relations people string us along for months on end.

“Of course, of course. A book! He loves books. What about Friday? 10 am?”

“Sure, that sounds wonderful.”

Friday, 9 am

“Hey Guys, so sorry. He’s actually out of the country. Has been since Tuesday.”

“But you set up the meeting on Tuesday.”

“Right, well, how about next week? He’s really excited. Phone me on Monday, maybe 2:30.”

Monday, 2:30

“Hello? How did you get this number? An interview with…. Look, not just anybody can get an interview with…. Oh, it’s you guys. Cool, cool. Yeah, um, this week’s just not gonna work. How about February. I think February will be good.”

“Okay, is there a day in particular?”

“Probably not actually. May have to be March. Give me a call then. Gotta go.”

Early March

“Hi….. a book about what? No, you can’t interview him. He doesn’t do that kind of thing. Sorry, click.”

Two weeks later. Our phone rings:

“Hey Andrew, you never phoned me back. We’re ready for the interview. One question though: who’s your publisher?”

“Oh, as we told you before, we’re still in talks with a few. Nothing’s been completely ironed out. But it would really help us out to have Mr. _____’s name associated with the project.”

Long silence, followed by “Oh, well, why don’t you phone us back when that’s all been sorted out.”

Click.

I wish we could say that only happened once, but we’d be lying. Those who say pursuit is three-quarters of the fun have never had to chase that man’s boss.

In the end, the number who declined an interview was very small, but they inspired us to redouble our efforts, fix our presentation, and push forward. The more interviewees told us about their experiences of rejection and delay, the more we came to see that being told to get lost was just part of the process – one that we would have to come to enjoy.

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