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Shady Illuminations

The Coalition of Yes

by John Shade

Generic image illustrating the article
Asked to reveal his philosophy of life, John says “No.”

That figures. The founder of Digg gets snapped up by Google, while the founder of Diss has to go it alone.

OK, I lied. There is no social media company named Diss, and there probably never will be. You couldn’t get funding for a company named Diss. VCs and angels wouldn’t pony up the capital. Those people are enthusiasm junkies. They’d rather be building up than tearing down. They see the glass as full—of potential! They want product names that sound sexy and potent. They go to the net-net for the win-win (FTW-W(tm)). They’d like to buy the world a Coke and fund its company.

Personally, I think no-go is usually wiser than go, that he who hesitates may last, that good news is no news, and that some fool keeps putting water in my whiskey glass. I’d rather hear about what you don’t like than what you do like, because I’m likely to like your reasons for disliking and dislike your reasons for liking.

I like hearing about things that don’t work, I get pleasure from avoiding the unpleasant, and I contradict people all the time. I’m a nay-sayer, and if corporate executives sought my advice, which never happens, I’d advise them to emulate that great nay-sayer, Steve Jobs. Except that then they’d probably emulate his tact rather than his judgement. So on second thought, would I do that? No. Once again, No proves to be the winner. But it’s the winner that loses, because the winning side is the Coalition of Yes.

Yes, there is a Coalition of Yes, and it’s a no-brainer to join.

There are a million reasons to say no, but inventors and investors and other gamblers keep saying yes. Yes requires just enthusiasm and the willingness to ignore all the excellent reasons to avoid change. Yes has many friends, and makes people happy. Unlike no, yes is easy to say, and you don't need a reason.

Yes grabs the power line. Yes takes responsibility with a clueless grin. Yes pulls the blocks out when you’re parked on a hill. Yes steps on the gas. No comes from fear and hunger, like all survival skills, while yes comes from openness and selective attention. The tech world is a world of yes, where “limited only by your imagination” triumphs over basic math.

So yes is the new math. Go figure.

John Shade was born under a cloud in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1962. Subsequent internment in a series of obscure institutions of ostensibly higher learning did nothing to brighten his outlook. He says he’d consider joining the Coalition of No only if they refused him membership. Send the author your feedback or discuss the article in the magazine forum.