How Creatives Should View ‘No’ As The First Step To Getting A ‘Yes’

Former advertising partner Gideon Amichay discusses how the word “no” is in fact the key to greater success down the road.

No matter what field you work in, ideas are often met with a barrage of “no”s from those in position of power. For creatives, this experience can occur daily, with doors metaphorically slamming in their faces. This is a fact that Gideon Amichay knows well, both in his career in advertising and his passion for cartooning. In his new book No, No, No, No, No, Yes: Insights from a Creative Journeyhe discusses how each rejection he receive throughout his career meant a yes was not far behind.

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Amichay began his creative journey in New York, at the School of Visual Arts, where he began submitting cartoons to The New Yorker for weeks on end with only rejections until an editor wrote “sorry” on the notice. It was then he understood that no came with a comma, and that the secret to receiving a yes was understanding what came after that comma, whether it was just bad timing or a need to improve the product. This was the attitude he took with him back to his homeland of Israel, where he worked to create ads for a firm. There, he pushed his team to create ads they thought would never be made, not to work outside the box to work outside of their preconceived ideas of what would get approval. The results were innovative billboards for Yellow Pages (above) and Safer Driving in Israel (below).

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The design of the book is also unique in its approach. While the physical book looks sizable, there is in fact little text within, focusing more heavily on the images to present an argument rather than text. As the reader moves from page to page, there’s a sense of the passage of time as Amichay’s narrative unfolds, whether it’s waiting for a positive response or feeling the long struggle of dealing with no’s over and over again. Like Amichay’s advertising, the book is set up in an unconventional way that ends up emphasizing the message better than the standard format would have.

Amichay’s tale and philosophy is an inspiration to creatives in all businesses and industries. Often times, “no” does not mean a complete shutdown, but rather a need to for an idea to go back to the drawing board, to retool and reimagine concepts, pitches, designs to best fit the project, publication, or platform. Understanding that a yes is on the horizon encourages people to work harder, better, and in new ways, leading to the success that “no” seemed to obscure.

You can purchase the book here.

Gideon Amichay

Images:  Shalmor Avnon Amichay Y&R.

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