Do You Have The Right To Tell People "No?"

by Ray Martinez

I am a big proponent of customer service, and making sure that I always give the best I can give.

The legendary basketball coach John Wooden, who passed away this year just shy of his 100th birthday, created the “Pyramid of Success.” He called the top pillar “Competitive Greatness.” Coach Wooden described this as, “Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required each day.”

For the past thirty-six years as an entertainer, I have made every effort to perform at my best, even when I was sick or not feeling well. I have always been able to go home after an event, lay my head on my pillow and sleep peacefully knowing I gave my clients their monies worth.

But just like in sports, even the best athletes are not going hit a home run, score a goal, drop 30 points, or even score a touchdown every game.

Here’s An Example

I recently entertained at a six hour event. During that time, the bride and groom thought I was the greatest thing since ice cream…or so I thought. After legally, morally and ethically fulfilling my contractual obligation, I started to pack-up to go home. The clients and their guests who throughout the evening seemed to enjoy themselves quickly turned on me, something that I can say I have never before experienced in my career.

The bride and groom then proceeded to bash me publicly on Wedding Wire and made up stories – viciously attacked my character, integrity and reputation. I consoled with some of my closest DJ colleagues and for a moment, I will admit that I felt pain in the deepest depths of my heart.

I almost allowed one customer of over thousands to just about convince me to walk away from the industry after all these years.

I have always believed that the customer is always right. The customer is NOT always right. Sometimes they are wrong.

In this event, my contract was fulfilled but the client had contracted the venue for three additional hours without informing me, and expected me to continue to entertain without any communication between us.

Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide

The truth is that even if they had requested on-the-spot additional playing time, I would have declined. Why? Because sometimes as professional entertainers, we must observe our surroundings and know when it is time to shut it down. In my opinion, with an open bar where people served their own drinks, I believe that the clients’ and guests’ safely would be the #1 factor in my not continuing after six hours of performing.

Customers believe that our job is to service them because they are paying us good money. Although this is true, safety should not be sacrificed for poor judgment.

After consulting with my colleagues, I will admit that I did allow this experience to bother me for the next two weeks; however, in this case, I believe the customer was wrong, and in my heart of hearts, I know that I did the right thing.

Was I worried that one review could destroy my business? You bet I was. There may come a time that you will be backed up against the wall by a client who is overly demanding. What should you do?

According to Darren Hardy, Publisher of Success Magazine, you get “the quality of life that you tolerate. If you don’t set boundaries, filter, govern, and restrict how the world works with you, you will be at the whimsy of everyone else’s mostly irrational demands.”

Just Say “No” When You Must

It is okay – no it is necessary to refuse your service, your time, your attention, your acceptance to people who don’t help you serve your highest good.

Sometimes you have to…

  • Fire a client.
  • Not respond to an email.
  • Turn down an invitation.
  • Refuse business.
  • Unplug and be unavailable.
  • Forget Political Correctness and voice a strong opinion.

“Stick To Your Guns”

It’s funny how the world will re-orient around your rules of engagement rather than you conforming to the world around you. When you say “No” and stand up for your standards and what you believe in, people will respect you more, and you will become even more valuable.

Any reasonable person respects someone of uncompromising principles and strength. In closing remember, “Sometimes you have to stand up for something, or you’ll fall for anything.”

If you have ever had a similar experience to mine, how did you handle it?

Ray Martinez – “Unbridled Inspiration”

Ray Martinez of Ray Mar Productions in Goodyear, AZ is the most highly accredited individual in the mobile DJ industry. A 30+ year veteran, Ray’s many accomplishments include: 2006 American Disc Jockey Hall of Fame Inductee; 2003 National Male Entertainer of the Year, American Disc Jockey Awards; 2001 & 2002 ADJA Southern California Entertainer of the Year; Author, “Performance Beyond Expectation” and “Music From My Heart, Orchestrating Your Business and Your Life;” Vice President-Board of Directors of N.A.M.E. (National Association of Mobile Entertainers); Executive Director, CrossMix-Christian DJ Association; Lifetime Member-American Disc Jockey Association; Former National Director of the ADJA, Former Vice President of the ADJA So. California Chapter; Ambassador and Endorsed Artist for QSC Audio. To contact him, email

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