Harness the power of no

GSE Money in the Making

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As a rising star, all eyes are focused on you, hyper-analyzing the things you do, the pictures you post on social media, and, oh yeah, how much money you make. Soon, you may find requests for financial assistance coming from all directions. Acquaintances, friends, family members, you name it.

While it's natural to want to help others, you also have to safeguard your hard-earned income for your future. In this guide, we'll help you harness the power of No, and set healthy boundaries in the ever-changing landscape of fame and fortune.


First things first

You know what’s always going to be easier than saying No? Keeping your business private so that you don’t have to say it at all. But for young stars, that can be tough. It's natural to be proud of your first big contract, but keeping the money details to yourself can make your life so much easier. Because if you flaunt your wealth on social media, or make a press announcement about your earnings, it might attract the wrong crowd — scammers, randos, and other people looking for a piece of the pie. So first things first, embrace the power of No not just in your interactions, but also in what you reveal to the public.

Who can I say no to?

You should never feel bad about not lending someone money. But let’s be honest, it’s harder to say No to some people more than others. Here are a few scenarios in which flexing your "no" muscles can work in your favor:

1. Randos

This one’s an easy No. Randos are the strangers who slide into your DMs, cold call, or approach you out of nowhere. And you probably shouldn’t trust them. It doesn’t matter if they got your number from someone you know or sent you an unsolicited request for money. Either way, it’s sketchy. The good news is, you don’t even have to respond. Just drop the message right in the trash.

2. Loose acquaintances

As your star power rises, there’s likely to be some familiar names popping up out of the woodwork. Maybe you vaguely remember them from a party or event. Maybe you played on an old team. If so, they might start reminding you of all the good times you had together. But don’t let nostalgia get the better of you! Just because you had some good times with someone doesn’t mean you owe them anything now, or that they somehow deserve to benefit from your success.

3. Your agent

Yep, you can say No to your agent too. While they're there to support you, you have the right to set boundaries and voice your preferences. If something doesn't align with your goals or feels off, don't hesitate to assert yourself. And don’t let them pressure you into a deal you’re not completely comfortable with. It's your career, after all.

4. Your squad

This is where it starts to get tricky. In theory, your close friends and inner circle should respect your choices and support your financial well-being. But in reality, you might be the first person they think of if they need help getting a business off the ground or financing a big purchase. While it’s important for friends to support each other, saying No firmly and respectfully can help ensure your financial stability remains intact while still maintaining those solid friendships. And remember, your support can come in more forms than just dollars and cents (but more on that below).

5. Your significant other

Love can be complicated, especially when it comes to money matters. If you’re married, that’s one thing. But if your new partner pressures you to open a joint account or pushes you into financial commitments, remember to prioritize your independence and security. Open communication is key.

6. Your family

Whether it's your blood relatives or chosen family, saying No can be tough. But often, it’s the right choice for the long-term. Not just for your financial health, but for the health of your relationship, too. This doesn’t mean you can’t give a family member a generous gift every now and again. But you definitely don’t want to become the family ATM. If an investment you make goes south, or if a family member never pays back a loan, or if one family member finds out you lent money to another, it can lead to awkward situations at best, and at worst, it can sow resentment.

How to master the power of no

1. Be direct and brief — No need to beat around the bush. When saying No, keep it short and sweet. You don't owe anyone a lengthy explanation. Or any explanation. Politely state your answer and stand your ground. The same if someone is trying to suss out how much money you make; it’s perfectly acceptable to leave it at, “I get by.”

2. Don’t feel rushed — Take your time! Don't let others pressure you into making quick decisions. When faced with requests, step back, evaluate, and respond on your own terms. Your financial future is worth the thoughtful consideration.

3. Set your boundaries — In order to enforce your boundaries, you first have to know what they are yourself. Consider making it your official policy not to lend money to friends and family. It's a common-sense measure that can make it easier to overcome the “guilt factor” of turning down people you care about. Whether or not you disclose your policy is up to you. But one thing to consider is that you might decide to make an exception down the road, so it may be best to keep it private. For instance, it wouldn’t be the greatest look if you told everyone you had a policy, then broke it for just one person.

4. Consider other ways you could help — Particularly when dealing with friends and family, this one is a game changer. Saying No to a loan or investment doesn't mean you can't offer help in alternative ways. Maybe you can help them create a budget or connect them someone who can help steer them in the right direction. Bottom line, offering guidance or suggesting alternative solutions shows that you care, without compromising your own financial stability.

5. Lean on your squad of professionals — You don’t have to go it alone. Surround yourself with a trusted team of professionals (financial advisors, lawyers, agents) who have your back. When faced with challenging decisions or requests, seek their advice. They have the expertise to guide you, evaluate risks, and help you make informed choices. And they also shouldn’t mind playing “The Bad Guy” and saying No for you if needed.


Learn your lines

Scenario #1 — the business venture

The ask: I’ve got an epic business idea, just need some startup funds to make it happen. You in?

Your response: Appreciate you thinking of me. But I’ll need some time to review the business plan and think it over with my advisors.

Scenario #2 — The family member in need

The ask: I normally wouldn’t ask, but I’m in a pretty tight spot right now. Any chance you could hook me up with a loan to pay down my credit card bill?

Your response: Sorry to hear you're going through a tough time. I can’t give you any money right now. But if you want, I can see if my financial advisor can help you create a budget so you can get yourself back on track.

Scenario #3 – the joint account discussion

The ask: We’ve been dating for a year; don’t you think it’s time for us to open a joint credit card account?

Your response: I need to talk to my financial advisor team about it. They handle all my money decisions.

How do I know if an NIL deal is the right fit?

Remember, just because a NIL deal offer rolls in doesn't mean you have to jump on board. Before getting caught up in money talks, take a moment to step back and assess the overall fit.

Assessment #1: Does it vibe with your personal brand and values? In other words, does it resonate with you as a person and athlete? If not, then you’ll likely want to pass.

Assessment #2: Is the timing right? For example, you probably don’t want to be shooting a commercial when you also have playoffs and final exams on your plate. So make sure the deal won't overwhelm your schedule or sideline your performance.

Assessment #3: Will the opportunity boost your reputation and open doors for future endeavors? Often, the best NIL deal is the one that helps you set yourself up for success beyond the field.

Assessment #4: Does it violate any rules from the NCAA, state government, or my university? If so, then it’s out.


You've got the power of No in your hands, and it's time to wield it confidently. By setting boundaries, being direct yet respectful, taking your time, considering alternative ways to help, and relying on your professional squad, you can protect your financial future like a boss. Remember, saying No isn't selfish. While others might want to cash in on your success, at the end of the day it is YOUR success. So stay firm, stay respectful, and know that every ‘No’ is a 'Yes' to preserving your money, your brand, and most importantly, your future.