“No, Hell No!” (Just Say It)

Ray Pitman was a legend in the construction industry instrumental in designing and building equipment that lifts people and materials, conceiving the ‘boom truck’ hydraulic lift (also known as the ‘cherry picker.’)

Ray served with the Army Corp of Engineers in World War II, was on Iwo Jima to help build the first aircraft landing strip, and walked through Hiroshima just days after the first atomic bomb detonated. I had the privilege of being his mentee from 2007 to 2014 before he passed away at age 89.

Upon return from the war, Ray – just 28 years old – was awarded a three hundred million dollar contract (that’s $300,000,000 in today’s terms) to lay pipe in the State of Utah. (Think about that. A 28 year old was entrusted with a $3M contract by a huge organization!)

Not long after his contract award, while surveying the land in a farm field, Ray was approached by the mob.  Two stern men demanded a 5% share of his hard earned contract.  They also required that he hire their crew for the work. 

“No, Hell No!”

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Ray was not about to let these dangerous adversaries (Dragons) intimidate and prevent him from achieving his life’s ambition. To himself, Ray said: “No, Hell No!”  Ray politely told the mob bosses that he was not the primary decision maker and that he would be back in a week to let them know what he was able to get accomplished. 

Ray then went home and, within a week, pieced together a hidden voice recorder. (Keep in mind that there were no Radio Shacks at the time. Ray literally fashioned together a revolutionary wireless recorder using his on ingenuity.) A week later, Ray returned and asked for the mob bosses for clarification. He apologized for not being able to fully articulate their request and asked for a detailed review so that he could once again ‘take it back to his boss.’ He promised to return in another week with the response, and they reluctantly agreed.

Right on schedule, one week later, Ray – a young and relatively inexperienced business owner – told the mob boss that recordings of their conversation were secured in several secret locations. The tapes would be released if any harm came to him, his family, his crew or his business, and that he would not hire a single one of their cronies.

Ray instinctively knew that saying ‘yes’ would have violated his core-values, that he deserved the right to work and live without interference, and that such behavior was intolerable, despite the obvious risk of saying no.

What Does “No, Hell No” Really Mean?

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Are you constantly fighting with Dragons, whether or not your business is successful? Are you blaming others for your lack of success?  Do you find yourself frequently stressed in the same situations?

Often times getting relief from Dragons, those external forces that cause us stress and anxiety, is to say:

“I am not going to tolerate bad behavior.”

“I can direct my own future.”

“I am going to have an impact on the world.”

“I am going to do what I want to do – in helping others and myself – and no one is going to stand in my way.”

“No, Hell No!“

I tried this in 2010.

As part of the sale of a digital marketing firm that I founded and grew over a fifteen period, we formed a new company with me as minority owner.  I became an employee of this company, with really no say in our direction. (This is not an uncommon way of exiting a small business, where the prior owner becomes an employee or ‘consultant’ and receive payouts over time.)

Shortly after the sale, it was clear that the new owners were not interested in my management participation. (This in itself was unusual, as the prior owner is typically relied on to maintain continuity with the client base, employees and operations.)

I was soon relegated to telemarketing for new prospects.  I was moved from my office of fifteen years into a small conference room where my activities were monitored. I don’t have an issue with telemarketing; it is a valued and honorable profession. But, after twenty-five years of business management and ownership, this activity was not taking advantage of my capabilities and clearly meant to diminish my capacity.

After just four days, I said: “No, Hell No!” I was not willing to be disrespected, despite continuing to earn a great salary and putting at serious risk my prospects of earning the entire payout of the sale. (My payments were based, in part, on the company’s ability to stay in business.)

It was truly a life-changing moment for me; I was proud, energetic and ready to continue on my journey. I then went on to other fulfilling endeavors, including now business coaching, writing and speaking.


How long until you say “No, Hell No!” before you get that it’s about setting boundaries and attitudes to accomplish your goals?

By practicing the mantra of “No, Hell No!” – politely of, course – you can run your business and avoid stress and frustration. For some people, this requires a long journey of discovering confidence and purposefulness. Others learn they can even bypass this stage and go straight to operating from a place of ease and flow, where it requires much less energy and is extremely powerful and productive.

For everyone, we must be ready for the awareness that “No, Hell No!” – even while sounding forceful and negative – works for peaceful outcomes.  You can then have abundance in your business and faith that you can achieve what it is you want.

Go Slay Dragons!


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