This is Your Reminder to Say ‘NO’

Ryan Holiday
7 min readJan 2, 2024

They cost me a lot of money.

It’s a pretty weird thing to collect.

But they help me every single day.

They are a bunch of historical documents of minor historical significance — it’s probably a stretch to call them artifacts — that remind me to do one of the most important but most difficult things in the world. A thing that most of us are not very good at.

As it happens, they come from the office of President Harry S. Truman.

You see, shortly after he became president, Truman was invited to the fifth annual Roosevelt Day in Chicago.

His secretary wrote an inner-office memo to ask if they should start saying no to these sorts of requests with all the demands he had on his schedule.

“The proper answer underlined, HST”, he wrote back.

It’s this last document that I have framed and hung in my office next to two pictures of my kids. It’s the idea that the proper response is to…



Ryan Holiday

Bestselling author of ‘Conspiracy,’ ‘Ego is the Enemy’ & ‘The Obstacle Is The Way’