Say Yes!

Remember Yes Man? The film in which Jim Carey had to say "yes" to every opportunity? Well, a few of us on staff at Echoing Green decided try this challenge on for ourselves, as an "experiencement" in following the flow of life and just...seeing what happens. The rule was that we had to say "yes" to every opportunity life presented to us, including suggestions made to and question asked of us by strangers (that didn't feel dangerous). The results were incredible, sometimes even life changing! (One of us even bought a last minute flight across the country when the USPS employee mailing her wedding present insisted that she should attend the wedding in person.) So we decided to pose the challenge to all of you.

Learning how to take risks is imperative to becoming a successful social innovator, as we have seen demonstrated over and over again through the examples of our world-changing Fellows.

So say "yes!"  Try it out!  And let us know how it goes by posting a photo, a video, or a story of something that happened as a result of the Say "Yes" challenge.

Each week, we'll select the boldest submission and send the winner a free copy of the Work on Purpose book. 

Photo: lugolounge

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This may or may not be me in front of Marina Abramovic’s “The Artist is Present” last year. However, this moment came together and represents my recent “Say Yes” experience over the past months. Pushed by a friend, in a humorous way, to tackle this fear and/or weakness of mine (a traumatic college art class I’ll just say…), I have embarked on a full throttle exploration of artistic knowledge and practice in the field. I was never very ‘good’ at painting or drawing, I was even mocked at times for my abilities, but now I’m working on my art skills and creative expression. Most importantly it’s been a fun experience, as I attend exhibits, and also soon will sign up for an art course. All because I was pushed to ‘Say Yes!’

Answered almost 3 years ago armand biroonak 32 1 from United States
almost 3 years ago jay g said:

This might be the funniest thing I’ve ever read.


I did this exercise for an entire week. Every day, I was surprised in a new way.

One evening, I was walking through my neighborhood in Brooklyn when I heard incredible drumming coming from the window of an art gallery near by. I Googled the name of the gallery on my phone, but didn’t see any mention of the drumming.  So I filled out their contact form as I walked to the subway: “Hello, I live a few doors down from your gallery and heard amazing drumming coming from your space this evening.  Do you have concerts or classes that you can tell me about?”  (Saying “yes” to one of life’s opportunities by simply investigating something that interested me.)

The next day I received a reply: “Thank you for your email.  We do not have classes or concerts.  Actually, I live above the gallery and you just heard my friends and I playing.  We all learned to drum while living in Brazil and come together every few weeks to make sure we don’t forget how to play.  You are welcome to join us anytime.  Just ring the bell the next time you hear us playing.”

A few nights later, coming home from work, I heard them playing.  This time, the gallery door was ajar.  I peeked in from the street and the gallery owner (a thin man in his sixties) and his friends were playing downstairs (in the gallery, not his apartment.)  I was about to push the door open and introduce myself.  JUST about to.  But then, I chickened out.  It was late, I thought to myself; I’d been working all day; I was tired; and what if the gallery owner was just being polite when he suggested I come by?  I backed away from the door and went home. 

I took off my coat, grabbed a box of crackers, sat down on the couch, said hello to my cat, and thought to myself “Wow.  This is so much lamer than whatever might happen at the gallery.”  So I put my coat back on (pocketed a few crackers) and went back to the gallery. (Say “Yes” moment number two.)

I knocked and the gallery owner answered.  The drum circle was just wrapping up.  “I’m afraid you can’t hear us play, but do you want a tour of the gallery?” he asked. 

“Yes,” I said.

And then, as he explained the various pieces to me, he said “Are you an artist?”  Now, normally I would never answer “yes” to this question, though I am an amateur artist of sorts.  But normally, I am not doing a Say “Yes” experiment. 

“Yes,” I answered. 

“Well then!” he said, “You should do a show here at the gallery!  I love having neighborhood artists.  You have the space for two weeks, no charge.  Invite whoever you want to your opening.  Just provide your own condiments and supplies.” 

Who would have ever thought that this sequence of yeses would have led to my doing my first art show?  No one!  And that is why I love this exercise so much.  Life is a funny thing.  And sometimes, we have to get out of its way to see where it might lead us.

Answered almost 3 years ago linda kay klein 142 4 from United States
about 2 years ago exdir1 said:

That’s awesome! I loved reading your story. Your use of dialogue really brought the story to life.

about 2 years ago linda kay klein said:

@exdir1 Thanks! It was a pretty powerful experiement.

about 2 years ago exdir1 said:

You’re welcome. I love when things like that happen!


Yesterday I was walking down the street, distracted, worrying about something, and someone yelled to me “Look up!” This came out of the blue, I wasn’t about to walk into the street or run into them, it was just their reaction to the look on my face, I guess.

So, in the spirit of saying YES, this morning I made an effort to “Look up!” and was lucky enough to see a tiny bit of hidden NYC – while changing out a billboard the workers revealed this old painted sign. I love seeing bits of my city that are not normally in view- it’s a reminder that everything changes (for better or worse) and the rich history of the world we live in. So say YES, “Look up!” and see something special today!
Answered almost 3 years ago liza 95 1 from United States
almost 3 years ago linda kay klein said:

I love this. And the photo is gorgeous.

almost 3 years ago jay g said:

This reminds of the stunt pulled by Improv Everywhere called “Look Up More.” Simple becomes fascinating. http://improveverywhere.com/2005/03/19/look-up-more/


Last week was my spring break, so I was on the lookout for exciting opportunities to do a “yes” experiencement. My chance came when my friend asked me to help her pitch her social venture at New Orleans Entrepreneurship Week. Although I had a general understanding of her company, MATTER L3C , I was nervous about explaining it to the 1,000+ people at the Big Idea Challenge. It is intimidating enough for me to pitch my own projects, much less another person’s! What if I said something wrong? What if someone asked me a question that I could not answer? What if I did a bad job? Since I was doing this challenge, I put all of those worries aside and told her, “Yes!”

I am so glad that I agreed to help, too. I learned a lot of interesting facts about MATTER L3C and I got some good pitching practice in. The process also turned out to be more interactive than I had expected: rather than getting on a stage, all I had to do was walk up to groups of people and tell them about MATTER L3C. Best of all, I met many fascinating New Orleans-based entrepreneurs and I was able to help my friend. 

Answered almost 3 years ago laura_white 150 4 from United States


this word is spell by man when he got success in his assumptions …………….. 

Answered over 2 years ago meetmadhukondikar 6 from India



Answered over 2 years ago algvelez 6 from United States


I really love the idea of being a ‘yes’ person and taking risks! My boyfriend was sitting on the couch studying for a Geology test and I was working at my kitchen table for my job as an Events Coordinator for our university’s Sustainability Center and he stopped out of nowhere, turned to me and asked, “Do you want to start a business?” 

Needless to say, I was shocked. Not only because it was so random but also because we are both very uninterested in income and money. I immediately asked what he had in mind and made my way over to the couch where we developed a non-profit business plan in a few hours of conversation (I was laughing at the possibility of this happening). It became a brilliant plan that was 100% sustainable and gave back to the community directly! We are working on it and hope to have it up and running in a year or two. Imagine if I’d just laughed it off completely. Yes is a great word and lifestyle.  
Answered over 2 years ago rhianna.taniguchi 2 from unknown


Say YES I can Yes I will

Answered over 2 years ago salman ali khan 53 from Pakistan