No is my favorite word

Sep 30, 2021

Welcome to the Fearless Innovator Podcast, my name is Mechiel Kopaska, and I am your host.

Today’s episode – No, is my favorite word!

I know you’ve been told no before!  It all starts when we were kids.  As a form of protection your parents and mine have all said – NO! Don’t touch that hot stove! You’ll burn yourself!  NO! Don’t run out into the street – you’ll get hit by a car. No! you can’t have another cookie; it will spoil your dinner.

Do you realize how many Nos we heard before we could actually start making our own decisions?  Do you know it only takes repeating something 21 times to become a habit?  By the age of 5, all we know is NO.

Decision making in my household started very young.  We had to be up early to do cow chores, trapping in the winter and then off to school.  After school, more chores, dinner, homework and go to bed – rinse and repeat.  This rinse and repeat process created discipline.

I remember the first time I was told no by someone other than my parents. I was a junior in high school when DeVry Institute of Technology came to my school and did a presentation.  The presentation just drew me in, it was something about technology that just got me to thinking I wanted to learn more about this school and what I could learn.  I went home and gave my mom and dad the spiel about this school along with the literature they gave me, and I told them, that I was really interested in this school.

Here’s the cool thing about my mom and dad – they never discouraged or encouraged any of us to do anything.  They allowed us to pick our own paths in life.  There’s only time, I remember calling home in Junior High and asking my mom if I could be a cheerleader and she told me no.  She was right – I wasn’t cut out to be a cheerleader, I became a very physical basketball player in high school.  I was thankful years later for her decision.

The next steps were to go talk with our school guidance counselor. I made the appointment and met with Gary.  Now, I was a Junior in high school and meeting anyone of the teachers or admin was always intimidating, this meeting was no different.

I explained to Gary that I would like to know more about DeVry Institute of Technology as I really enjoyed the presentation.  I remember the meeting going something like this.  “Mechiel, I don’t think you’re cut out for a school like that.”  Now, I have to assume that because this was a technical school – The bachelors program was a Bachelor of Science degree or in layman’s terms – I would become a developer or write code – he didn’t feel that the classes I had already taken would lead me down this path.  It was a 2 year and 8-month Bachelor program carrying 21 credits a trimester and no summer’s off.  I didn’t have to take the non-essential business classes that the 4-year colleges made you take.

In my mind, I was like so?  It just meant to me I’d graduate much earlier than the 4-year colleges and I’d be in the workforce much earlier.  I was an A student with some B’s mixed in.  I didn’t understand why he wouldn’t support it.  I walked out of his office very disappointed.  I went home and told mom and dad that Gary wouldn’t support me going to DeVry but that’s where I wanted to go!

Several days went by when mom and dad told me that a guy from DeVry was coming by the house and that I needed to be ready for him.  I didn’t know what that meant, but we sat at the kitchen table with this guy for 3 hours as he explained in more detail about the school and how it worked.  He then made me read 3 paragraphs to him out loud.  Then he started asking me questions about the 3 paragraphs, like he never heard a word I said. I became frustrated and I said to him, “Did you not hear anything I just read to you?”  He started laughing out loud.  Well, I wasn’t laughing, and I rolled my eyes!  He then explained that I had passed his test.  He said, he stays 3 hours on purpose to test my patience and then he tested my comprehension by asking questions about the story I read to him.  He told me, it’s on purpose because over ¾ of the kids that sign up for this school will quit and they had tied it back to comprehension, so they try to weed them out before they even start school.

So evidently, mom or dad – not sure which had done a little damage control with Gary and scheduled this appointment with DeVry.  Now Gary was making more sense to me, but I was still determined that I wanted to go to DeVry.  Back then it wasn’t as glamorous as going to the University of Iowa – but I wanted to go to school to learn not party!

In the fall of 1982 – dad hauled me to Kansas City in a horse trailer and 2.8 years later I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems.  I would tell you that it was NOT fun, it was a lot of hard work and at the 2.4-year mark I was ready to call it quits at the Associates degree – I even called home crying and mom and dad both said NO, you’re not quitting and you’re not coming home!  The guy from DeVry was right we started with over 1000 kids and only 250 or so graduated.

I went back to Gary’ desk years later and slapped him with my degree and of course, back then it was posted in the local paper for EVERYONE to see.  

This degree ultimately led me into the world of IT where I was a Project Manager for 25 years.  Just think, if I’d let Gary tell me no and I just curled up in a corner?  Where would I be today?

I had a boss several years out of college tell me that I was a computer whiz, but I didn’t know math.  I went and took a college algebra class and slapped an A on Bud’s desk.

I learned quickly that there are big differences between the No’s your parents tell you (that’s for safety usually) and the No’s peers, bosses and even friends will tell you.  Those No’s mean to me, that they are protecting only themselves and potentially holding you back.  What are they hiding?  Why do they want the ability to control my actions?

Do you realize if you listen to all the no’s, someone else is controlling your destiny?  It always leads back to fear.  They are trying to instill fear into you so you don’t do it.  I say, pay close attention to the No’s you are hearing and react accordingly.  I can almost guarantee you, you’ll end up with a positive result – if you can just find the initiative to tackle it!

Thank you for listening, I hope you were inspired, entertained or you learned something new!

Hey! I’m on the road to the Laconia Bikefest!  Look for The Insane Wanderers and ask for Mechiel!

While I’m gone to Laconia my real estate business is on auto pilot and   I’m producing income while I’m out riding around the countryside!  If you want to know how, reach me at!

Catch me later…