I often tell my audiences that if you ever want to see a master negotiator and entrepreneur at work, then look no further than the little kids that you might happen to know; preferably your own if you have them, if not, then perhaps observe a little niece or a nephew. If all else fails then check out that bratty neighbour kid from down the street. Any one of ‘em will suffice because they are ALL masters in the art of getting what they want (moms and dads, you know this to be true, correct?).
Children are masters at getting what they want simply by virtue of asking for it again, and again and again and…well, you get the picture.
Asking for what you want works wonders. So why, then, do we stop doing it? Simply put, we stop asking because as we mature, we become steadily more afraid of the fact that with asking comes the possibility of rejection, and with rejection comes embarrassment, and nobody enjoys embarrassment. We become more and more fearful to ask. It can be excruciating, right? Have you been there, done that? I know I have. I remember one time I was days away from receiving a large sum of money but was only hours away from losing a deal if I did not come up with a chunk of change. My girlfriend at the time convinced me to ask of her father, of all people! And when he flatly refused me there wasn’t a hole big enough, nor deep enough, to bury myself in. I was mortified.
One of the greatest topics successful people love to talk about is how they became successful, so start there.
But what really happened to me after his refusal? Did a lightning bolt descend from the heavens striking me dead on the spot? Did my request make news headlines the next day? “Guy asks his girlfriend’s father for money and was told NO! Details at 6.” Did the cops come to my door? Of course not. A not-so-comfortable feeling, backed up by a nagging voice in my head, said, “ See I told you so. I told you not to ask him.” But nothing drastic happened to me and of course I lived to fight another day. Incidentally if you are wondering how I solved my dilemma, I had a brainwave and went knocking on the door of my record company and got a quick advance and paid it back the following day.
So you want to know how to get a recording deal? Ask someone who works for a record company. Want to know how to start your own business? Take a successful businessperson to lunch and ask them how they got their start. Want to improve your golf swing but cannot afford expensive golf lessons? Ask the best golfer on your street. Want to know how to turn $100 into $10,000? Ask Warren Buffett! I’m serious. You will be amazed at how many people from all walks of life, regardless of social or financial status, will be more than willing to answer your questions. I know this because I have done it and STILL do. Especially when it comes to business and entrepreneurship.
I have taken extremely successful businesspeople to lunch for the specific purpose of picking their brains. And the best part is that they’ve known upfront that this is what I intended to do. I asked them ahead of time and they agreed! Sure, some will decline your request but that’s okay. Don’t give it a second thought. Just erase them from your list and move on. It only takes one or two and you can have more answers to your questions that you had ever thought possible. One of the greatest topics successful people love to talk about is how they became successful, so start there.
A lovely example of the power of asking: A lad from Florida read my book The Action Sandwich (a six-step recipe to success doing what you are already doing) and upon finishing it called my manager and ASKED if I would write songs with him. She thought it unlikely until he asked again, and again, causing her to take the steps of checking out his credentials. Today he is a dear friend and valued partner on my song-writing pathway.
So there you have it. ASK for what you want. Don’t let a red face, a sweaty palm, and a little embarrassment stop you. You MUST have the power of ASKING in your bag of tools on the pathway to success.