Sarah Green Carmichael is Editor at Bloomberg Opinion, formerly senior editor of The Harvard Business Review, host of the HBR IdeaCast, and Barrons. A big part of her job is rejecting great ideas to make room for the super great ones. She has expert tips on how to do it without ruining relationships and some practical tools she uses to get stuff done and find those ideas.
Plus, hear an early error that almost cost her future career, but ended up helping her become far better at her job.
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Rejecting Good Ideas For Great Ones
Carmichael discusses a major challenge of her job is saying no to plenty of good or even great ideas in order to get to truly great ideas. Due to the nature of her previous job at the Harvard Business Review and now Bloomberg Opinion she has plenty of experience with iconic writers.
While some business publications are going in the direction of quantity over quality, Carmichael filters only great work. It’s difficult because of the relationships they’ve built and need to maintain. It truly is truly hard to say no.
“People don’t have a problem being rejected by print” she explains. “They accept it’s a rare resource, scarce and there’s not space for everyone.” But when people are rejected for the web, it’s more difficult. Carmichael explains that space may not be limited, but reader attention is.
Sarah Green Carmichael’s Two Idea Rejection Rules
It can be really hard to say no, explains Carmichael, but she has great advice for how to tell people no, and keep the relationship alive to keep the flow of great ideas coming. Here are her two rules to reject ideas. “A quick no is better than a long maybe,” she says. Clarity, communication, and speed are extremely important. Here are her two rules to follow.
1. Reject quickly
“My number one rule is if you’re rejecting someone, reject them quickly,” she said. “The worst thing is to let someone’s idea languish for a long time.”
2. Give a reason and help them learn
You don’t have to give an exhaustive list of reasons, but it’s helpful to say something specific quickly. She explains if you give people a reason, you inevitably refine your own writer base and help them improve on focus.
Learn More About Sarah Green Carmichael
- Follow Sarah on Twitter
- Subscribe to HBR IdeaCast on iTuneas
- Subscribe to HBR IdeaCast on SoundCloud
- Read the Harvard Business Review
Read some of her favorite work!
- Millennials Are Actually Workaholics, According to Research
- The Research Is Clear: Long Hours Backfire for People and for Companies
- The Daily Routines of Geniuses
Photo credit: Ben Carmichael