How to Say No (#282)

This is a special episode of the podcast. When I wrote Tribe of Mentors, I reached out to many different experts, leaders, athletes, and entrepreneurs who are the best in the world at what they do. More than 130 people said yes — but many others said no. This episode covers rejection, and — more specifically — how to turn down seemingly good options. How to say no to seemingly burdensome “obligations,” and say yes to the critical few opportunities. Understanding the difference — and how to do it — can make a significant impact on your life and your happiness. Enjoy!

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

How to Say No

Want to hear another conversation with a mentor from Tribe of Mentors? Listen to this episode with Debbie Millman, in which we discuss how favorite failures and why busy is a decision. Listen to it here (stream below or right-click to download):

Busy is a Decision - Debbie Millman

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This podcast is also brought to you by AudibleI have used Audible for years, and I love audiobooks. I have two to recommend:

  1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  2. The Tao of Seneca by Seneca

As a listener of The Tim Ferriss Show, you can join Audible for just $4.95 per month for your first 3 months (it’s regularly $14.95). This offer is available to new Audible members only and it ends December 31, 2017. Go to or text “tim” to 500-500 to get started. Choose one of the above books, or choose any of the endless options they offer. That could be a book, a newspaper, a magazine, or even a class. It’s that easy. Go to and get started today.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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19 Replies to “How to Say No (#282)”

  1. Loving the new book, Tim! I may have underlined more in the intro of this book than any I’ve ever read. Looking forward the chapters ahead.

  2. I cant’t believe anyone would turn down the opportunity to be interviewed by Tim Ferris. Tim has been a major staple of social media for how many years now? Incredible that someone would turn down the chance to jawbone with Tim.

  3. Thanks for making this recording Tim, much appreciated. I think it’s one of those podcasts that is very powerful for those it hits at the right time

  4. Just finished the how to say no podcast and I had a couple of thoughts. The response you got from Wendy Danny seem to be following a trend like you mentioned. 1. get into the reasons for your decision (explain your situation)

    2. make them know that the decision is not personal

    3. give them them answer

    4. “validate” or give them props for asking and “encourage” them or as Wendy said eventhough I cant I know your work will “make it”

    Now saying that their reasoning for declining can not be taken personally because of you personally believing or knowing that these people are busy/they cant be ON all the time.

    Therefore I was wondering how to say no to a person for the little things because you do not want to do them (they do not feel right to you), not because you do not have the time. And also how would that differ in saying no to people in person ?

  5. Dear Tim,

    I recently read your book Titled “The 4 – Hour Workweek” and it has changed how I view my life. I am currently a 19 year old college student playing college basketball 10 hours from home. The book has made me realize that playing basketball does not make me happy and I have come to the point that I want to find something else to occupy my time with. The only problem is that my family feels that I am giving up too easily and that I am letting them down. I try to tell them that it doesn’t make me happy but it doesn’t seem to bother them. Do you have any advice for me on what I can do? I want nothing more than to be successful and I strive every day to make them proud. It saddens me that they do not value my happiness the way I value theirs. I hope you get the chance to read this and I am sorry that it is so long. I love your content and keep up the great work!

    1. Hi Hunter! This might help:

      Tim Ferri[ss]’s podcast #254: When to Quit: Lessons from world-class Entrepreneurs.

      All the best!

  6. Hi Tim, How can I get your lastest books books on I am asking specifically Tribe of Mentors, and Tools of Titans. Are there any specific restrictions for Australia?

  7. Super practical and timely content Tim, thank you so much.

    I immediately implemented the “polite rejection email” within an hour of listening to this podcast. It works beautifully and keeps me so focused.

    This episode also just led me to my newest goal- To say no to all business or social activities that fall on a Friday or Sunday (within a 5 hour uninterrupted block), so I can truly focus on the one single thing I most want to achieve (setting up my online teaching business).

    I’m so grateful for your free podcast Tim- I will certainly purchase Tribe of Mentors, as I have done all your other books!

    Thank you sincerely!

    Huge respect,


  8. Hi Tim,

    I am finding it so much easier to say “no” because I am doing what I am doing for the higher energy, fun, more detached reasons.

    I used to see people or opportunities as the difference maker. Or as Bud Fox notes in Wall Street, how life comes down to a few opps, and one of them was meeting Gordon Gekko.

    Not true.

    People are not the source of our abundance. Something Infinite is. Knowing this, although opportunities flow through people, the people are not the source of the opps. Not only that; when you are having fun, and doing things with love, you feel grateful for opportunities that flow your way but in the same regard you can let go any opp in seconds with a “no” and seize the good matches quickly, without worrying or fretting or delaying.

    Practice the art of saying Yes or No quickly. Over time your decision making ability improves but when you feel detached and relaxed you say yes to those opportunities that feel like so much fun to feast on and simply let go with no’s to all other opportunities.

    I just smile with an emoticon and let people know I cannot take on anything more with my busy schedule. Short, sweet, pleasant, clear, and honest, so I feel A-OK with my delivery. I also know if other folks have an issue I have compassion for them but know it is all about them and has nothing to do with me.

    Thanks for sharing Tim.


  9. Hey Tim, I’m unable to find the Cod liver oil/ butter blend here in Canada but I can get them separately. Can you tell me what ratio to take them? I can’t find a reference for that combo anywhere other than in capsule form? – Kevin

  10. Hi Tim,

    Have to say the quality and quantity of content at this time is pretty amazing. Shows the effort put through time to gather systems, processes and teams to handle it. Might be a little too much content for many but putting some aside for that “winter” season that may come at some time. Evergreen content is definitely timeless, especially if you can refer to it at a later time and dissect it even more.


    On Sun, Nov 26, 2017 at 3:52 AM, The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss wrote:

    > Tim Ferriss posted: ” This is a special episode of the podcast. When I > wrote Tribe of Mentors, I reached out to many different experts, leaders, > athletes, and entrepreneurs who are the best in the world at what they do. > More than 130 people said yes — but many others said n” >

  11. This episode! I just used the tips to write a no to someone close to me who has been asking me to buy products. Because of the relationship, I didn’t want to say no outright, but my reluctance was becoming a sore spot. I am so relieved to now have said no in such a kind, truthful and encouraging way. I got an immediate understanding response. Thank you!!

  12. I just read a quote from author Larry Osborne that expresses the sentiment of saying no for Christians.

    “Not everything that comes from heaven has your name on it.”

  13. Dear Tim

    I truly admire you. You have catalysed massive change in my life. I have been advocating your methods to the point that my family banned your name over dinner tables in a jokey kinda way. You get my point. I want you to keep inspiring humankind until my son is old enough to really process your insights.

    Therefore, I am going to make a possibly pretty unpopular suggestion here: perhaps you may want to follow Wendy Macnaughton and take a break from being out there, successful and delivering. Why?

    When I listened to this episode “Saying No” I unwittingly asked myself when Tim Ferriss would say no to his own relentlessness? Something crystallized in my mind that had started earlier with some episodes of Tools of Titans: to me, your content – as inspiring as each individual interviewee or mentor is and as much as you seem to have a blast – is starting to feel ‘more of the same’. After 700 blogposts indeed and 10,000s of podcast hours, plus half a dozen best seller books, I notice that I am getting ‘maxed out’ on Tim Ferriss – are you, too…?

    Could it be that you are due (and subconsciously desperate) for a big sabbatical? With no purpose other than to find and love yourself in your 40s? To create more space for being? Aimless drifting, so to find your partner in the least likely place and moment? And to pass on your wonderful DNA to another vessel in the vast ‘River of Eden’ (Dawkins)?

    Just a thought…stay well!



  14. your podcast with terry crews was amazingly insightful. I just wanted to drop a comment here to say thank you for providing content that help bring positive change to people’s lives. All the best!

  15. thank you again , but i thing i will not take it , my english very poor , and i forgot new name , that’s trust , can you help me remember it ? and help me remember name of him . he’s “boss” . omg , in don’t miss everything