CC Image courtesy of gaptone on Flickr

When talking with colleagues about work, one of my biggest gripes is finding out they couldn’t say “no” to a client and are now stuck doing shit work. Having worked as a programmer and consultant for almost 10 years, I’ve certainly swallowed enough “no”s just to get a paycheck. But as the years went on, I realized that I was really just whoring myself out for pennies on the dollar when it was all said and done. The amount of time I ended up spending trying to implement a fix for that one CEO that refused to upgrade away from IE 6 was just never worth my time, and I get no satisfaction from having to hack up my own code in a less than beautiful way to make it happen.

More recently I’ve grown perversely attracted to the idea that I can say “no” to projects and still make a living. There is an axiom in the financial markets that the deal of a lifetime comes along every day, every week, every month, etc. Saying “no” to a mediocre project leaves you open to take on the great project that comes along right behind it. But even at a smaller scale, such as an enhancement request, it feels really good to not only say “no” to a client, but also back up that response with statistics that make great business sense. It wasn’t always a comfortable thing for me though, and I think it’s a privilege gained only through experience. (more…)