Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained: Why It Pays to At Least Ask for What You Want

By Katie Corbett


Going out on a limb and asking for what you want can be scary. It can also get you some of the biggest opportunities of your life.


In “Shoe Dog,” by Phil Knight, it is very clear that Nike wouldn’t exist if he hadn’t positioned himself as a shoe distributor and had the courage to meet with people in Japan and ask for shoes. (Read the book; the story is awesome.) Here are some ways I like to boost my courage and support success before making a big ask. The next time you have to make an ask that feels big to you, see if you could give something on this list a try.


  • Hold a “power pose” for two minutes before the conversation.
  • Organize my thoughts, in writing, if possible.
  • Get plenty of sleep the night before.
  • Bring a waterbottle.
  • Ask at the right time.
  • Focus on what I can give or bring to the table.
  • Leave plenty of space for silence.
  • Make sure all of their questions are answered.
  • Prepare answers to questions I think they might have.
  • Take a deep breath.


When I knew I was going to be leaving my first full-time job, I had to find another one. On a Thursday afternoon, I sent a quick text message to a former internship boss simply asking, “Do you have need of an intern?” She responded with, “Yes, send me your dream job.” Asking what she needed, rather than asking for what I wanted, made it more likely that I would get a positive answer.


What big asks have you made throughout your career? Leave a comment and let me know how it turned out.


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