I went into the meeting ready to say "NO!". I know they want help but am unsure what I'd be committing to do at this point. What activities will be keeping my kids (and me) busy? How many new clients will the business have to absorb (and manage) between now and next summer?

I want to help, but also have to manage my time carefully. So much is up in the air. It'd be reckless to commit now to next summer manage the biggest festival in 8 suburbs. I don't even know yet what that commitment would mean.

Then the meeting comes around. The chair of Carmelfest and me. He's new to the position too, learning himself. So I give myself the internal pep talk one more time, "he'll ask for help, and you simply can't commit yet. Better to say no now than risk letting them down later. Keep it low. Be polite. Stay flexible. You can do more later, once the details become clear."

Then the meeting strikes. I sit down. He begins talking but never once asks for help. There's no attempt to corner me into a commitment. Instead he seeks advice. They're adding a new pavilion and wondering how to promote and manage PR for it.

And without even realizing it, instead of saying "No", I'm asking for details. Instead of walking away free of responsibility, I'm throwing out ideas, suggesting options. Then the biggest shocker of 'em all, I suddenly hear myself suggesting he and I meet up next week to walk the grounds, get a visual, discuss marketing opportunities.

And once the meeting's over, walking away, I realize I not only failed to say No. I've already become the volunteer they were looking for. I'm completely on the hook, and loving it!!

The best sales, I'm reminded, isn't about tricks and manipulation. It's about helping someone find themselves in your cause. Getting hooked can be even more fun than getting away, and I'm excited to be joining a team that knows how to manage the difference.