startups and code

The Power of No

← Back to home

There is an amazing book called "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle. Yes, I have read it, but I have realized that "The Power of No" is even greater in some parts of life. I have negotiated multiple contracts, offers, SOWs, and the like over my career. It all comes down to one simple thing: leverage. You can only negotiate when you have something to negotiate with. Many people come to me and say, "I'm a junior developer and don't have anything to leverage". It may feel that way, but the truth is, the company you are applying to has a vacancy that they need to fill. That alone gives you a certain level of leverage. However, the most powerful leverage you have is saying "No". It is a very difficult concept for people to grasp. We all want to be helpful, we all want to land the job, and we all want to grow, or should at least. That is all good but remember you are interviewing the company and the moment you think, "well, I guess this is all I can get for now", then you have devalued yourself, lost any leverage you have, and are willing to bend to their will with whatever (if any) offer they present.

How do I do know this? Because I've done it. I have accepted a job, not negotiated anything and wondered how I got here.

We all need to pay our bills, and live our lives, but at what cost. In the tech industry, there are way more jobs than their are talented developers. I use the word talented specifically. There are a lot of developers out there, but are they all talented? No. By today's standards, if you know what an html tag is and how to apply a class to a div then you are a web developer. You are not talented, you are what I call a C&P engineer (aka, cut & paste engineer, or the stack overflow developer).  Don't get me wrong, I love reusing code, but I also have written a lot of it from scratch. That is a tangent for another day.

Let's get back to the power of No. When you receive a contract or an offer, remember they are hiring YOU, not your friend, not that one developer who you think is amazing, but you. That means there is something you did that they liked and want to bring you on to solve some problem. Can you solve the problem? Maybe, but they are willing to see how you do. There are some key things to know when you are accepting an offer, unless you are a contractor, you may not be on the project forever, your team will change, and your manager most certainly will change. Realize that you need to like the entire organization, not that one guy who interviewed you who is your now potential manager.

Realize that. Make sure you want to work in that organization. If not, say No.

It's ok to say no. I am giving you permission to say no, if that is what you need.

There are so many opportunities out there, that you should not settle. You should love going to work in this field if you have decided to enter the tech industry.

Ok, let me tldr this real quick because my dogs need to go out - you always have leverage because you can say no. If you are feeling overwhelmed by too much work, then say no to the next thing and set boundaries with the existing one.

ok, time to go for a walk.  I'll write again when they are sleeping.