- Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
- Former executive Beth Comstock worked at General Electric and former NBC properties for 27 years, eventually rising to the level of vice chair at GE.
- Instead of accepting the word “no” on an idea, Comstock took feedback and would present the idea to her boss up to three times.
- However, some bosses may always shoot down ideas, she said, so it’s up to you to try small experiments and prove to your boss that they work before asking for more.
Beth Comstock learned how to get her bosses to say yes during her 27 years at General Electric and former NBC properties.
While working under Jeff Immelt at GE and Bob Wright at NBC, Comstock would present an idea multiple times before accepting “no” from her boss, she said on an episode of Business Insider’s podcast “This Is Success.” Comstock eventually became vice chair of GE before leaving the company.
“I made sure I went back at least three times with an idea. That takes a certain amount of confidence. But just because someone says no, why can’t you go back again, and take feedback?” said Comstock, who recently published “Imagine It Forward,” a memoir and career guide.
“You probably have more capacity and permission than you think. And I would challenge you, because I’ve seen so many people who tell me, ‘The boss won’t let me,’ ‘I don’t have any money,’ or ‘Our investors won’t let us,’ if you’re a startup. And that’s not always true.”
“Try little things,” she said. “Go back to your boss and say, ‘Look at what I just did. It worked, can I have some funding to do more of this?'”
She said many people will work under “gatekeepers” at larger companies who aren’t as dedicated to change and growth as you may be.
“The first time, your idea may not be ready. You’re not ready. So I’m a big believer in, ‘This no is ‘not yet.’ Keep going back, keep going back,” Comstock said.