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

Katie Corbett holds the book "Shoe Dog"

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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When Working with Others, Ignore Distracting Chatter But Recognize Initiative

Katie Corbett holds the book "Shoe Dog"

By Katie Corbett

 

It can be easy for people to give ideas about how to fix or accomplish something, especially if they are not in positions of leadership to make it happen. They might not understand everything it takes to run an organization, project, or event.

 

Nike founder Phil Knight says in “Shoe Dog” that one of the people he brought on to sell shoes for him wrote with lots of ideas, complaints, and things that weren’t working well. Here are some steps to try if you have such a person in your life.

 

  • Ask them what they think could be done to fix it.
  • Encourage them to take a leading role in fixing the problem.
  • Give them more responsibility.
  • Ask them what they can commit to in terms of finding solutions.
  • Encourage them to implement those solutions.
  • Ask them to write down all of their ideas and bring them to a brainstorming session.
  • Invite them to a planning meeting.
  • Ask them to list all of the ways they could help.
  • Help them evaluate their ideas based on larger goals.
  • Put them in charge of a project or initiative so they can see what it takes to do the work.

 

To solve the issue of his prolifically complaining employee, Phil Knight ignored many of his letters, recognized that he had initiative, and kept him busy by putting him in charge of a branch of Nike as soon as he could. This gave the man the ability to make change and solve problems, as well as the understanding of all of the complexities it takes to run a shoe business.

 

Do you have someone in your life who likes to find solutions to problems? Have you given them autonomy to solve those problems? Let me know how it went in the comments.

 

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Stay Ahead of the Game: Notice Trends Around You

Katie Corbett holds the book "Shoe Dog"

By Katie Corbett

 

Keeping an eye on what is going on around you can help you take advantage of opportunities. It can even help you create new ones.

 

Phil Knight, who shares his founder’s story of Nike in “Shoe Dog,” created such a successful company because he paid attention to things that were in vogue around him and figured out how to meet previously unmet needs in the footwear industry. Here are some questions I ask myself so that I continue to observe and recognize trends.

 

  • What needs are people expressing around me?
  • What do people want?
  • Have I seen, come across, or heard about an unmet need more than once?
  • Have multiple people expressed this need to me?
  • How do my skillset, personality, and experience put me in a position to meet this need?
  • WHAT is the need?
  • How can I help?
  • How do I want to help?
  • What would I need to do to meet this need?
  • What is the first step to getting started?

 

My garment project stemmed from seeing a need around me. I asked others if they had the same need I felt, and they answered with a resounding “Yes!” From there, a product idea was born. Even though I put that project on hold for the time being, the need definitely still exists. I might come back to it again someday.

 

My story illustrates that it is important to keep in mind that you could have a need that intersects with the needs of others. Keep paying attention to your own needs as well as those of others. You might be surprised about what opportunities come your way as a result of your vigilance.

 

Do you have a story about how paying attention to trends helped you find a new job, volunteer role, or other opportunity? Let me know in the comments.

 

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