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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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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Avoiding the Comparison Trap

Katie Corbett holds the book "You are a Badass"

By Katie Corbett

 

Comparing yourself to others is a fruitless exercise that can leave you feeling discouraged. It can remind you that you aren’t where you want to be, make you feel like you aren’t good at the things you are trying to do, and lessen the sense of accomplishment you feel about the things that are going well in your life. I’m guilty of comparing myself to others, and I decided that I wanted to make a change so that I could be happier about my life and more confident in doing the things I wanted to achieve.

 

In “You Are A Badass,” Jen Sincero calls it the Comparison Trap. Thinking of comparison as something bad to avoid, rather than as a character flaw, is helping me change my mindset. Here are some ways I avoid comparing myself to others.

 

  • I think about what I’m grateful for rather than focusing on what I don’t have.
  • I plan fun things to do to take my mind off any lack of success I might be experiencing.
  • I contemplate what it is that I want when I’m comparing myself to others, because the need to compare might be coming out of a sense of desiring a specific trait or outcome.
  • I focus on my own goals, growth and development, rather than thinking about what others are achieving.
  • When I do catch myself comparing, I think about how glad I am that this person is in my life so that I know what is possible.

 

Remember that changing your mindset takes time. It can’t be done overnight, and it happens one thought at a time. Be patient with yourself and give yourself grace for the times you slip up and find yourself comparing.

 

Do you fall into the comparison trap? What helps you avoid comparing yourself to others? What mindset shifts do you find beneficial? Let me know in the comments.

 

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Trust That Your New Life Is Already Here

Katie Corbett holds the book "You are a Badass"

By Katie Corbett

 

I once went to a career workshop where we were asked to picture our ideal day. I was looking at making some pretty significant changes in my life and was invigorated by this exercise. It turns out that drilling down to what you really want can help you realize that your dreams are within reach. It is also possible that, as I did, you can figure out what needs to change to truly get yourself the life and career you hope for, and you might not need to change as many things as you might think at first.

 

In “You Are A Badass,” Jen Sincero says that your ideal life is already right in front of you. I kept this in mind as I pictured my ideal day. Here are the things I wanted to be a part of that day.

 

  • Drinking tea
  • Learning new things
  • Hanging out with friends
  • Solar cooking
  • Reading for pleasure
  • Playing instruments
  • Spending time outdoors
  • Finishing crafting projects
  • Having a rich prayer life
  • Working out

 

The organizers asked us to think about how to incorporate what we want in the future into our lives as they were at the present time. I made sure to do each of these activities every day. I found that this increased my happiness overall. If I could have all these things, then why couldn’t I also have the job I desired?

 

I encourage you to make a list of what you would do in your ideal day. What can you start incorporating now, even before your dream is fully realized?

 

I’d love to hear how it goes for you. Let me know in the comments.

 

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You Are A Victim of the Rules You Live By

Katie Corbett holds the book "You are a Badass"

By Katie Corbett

 

Whether it is true or not, we make decisions based on assumptions we make and ideas we impose on ourselves. These rules can keep us from enjoying life and achieving at our highest potential.

 

This became apparent to me when I read, “You Are A badass,” by Jen Sincero. I decided to take some time and look at what rules I live by that hold me back. here’s what I discovered.

 

I catch myself thinking that networking takes a long time. The truth is that if you network efficiently and stay organized, it only need take five minutes a day.

 

I sometimes think that by reaching out to people, I am bothering them. Experience has taught me, though, that if I approach conversations with friendliness and a desire to get to know the other, nobody seems to mind.

 

I used to catch myself thinking that people don’t want to hear from me. I’ve realized that if I reach out and someone doesn’t want to hear from me, they won’t respond, and those who do want to connect with me will be happy to talk.

 

I sometimes think that I don’t know how to be curious. Asking questions is important to me, so I try to fall back on what I learned in journalism school to come up with good questions.

 

As you can see, changing these beliefs and ideas takes time and effort. Putting in this time and effort has paid off so far, and I plan to continue to do this important work.

 

Are you living by a rule that is holding you back? How are you working to change this? I’d love to know, so drop me a comment.

 

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What It Means to Be An Introvert: Myths and Facts

Katie Corbett holds the book "The Introvert Entrepreneur"

By Katie Corbett

 

Many misunderstandings arise about what it truly means to be an introvert. Even as an introvert myself, it can be easy to fall into the trap of believing some false ideas.

 

In the book, “The Introvert Entrepreneur,” author Beth Buelow dispels many misconceptions. Here are some introvert myths and facts. Do you find yourself second-guessing one of these if you had thought it to be true?

 

Myth: Introverts don’t like people.

Fact: Introverts are drained when around people, so they might prefer time alone.

 

Myth: Introverts are shy.

Fact: Introverts might take some time to warm up to a situation, or they might not start talking until a large crowd has thinned out.

 

Myth: Introverts are not good at selling themselves.

Fact: Introverts are less likely to push themselves on people, and they approach conversations with a mindset to deepen a relationship.

 

Myth: Introverts are not good at making conversation.

Fact: By learning good questions to ask and by being curious about the other person, introverts can be excellent conversationalists.

 

Myth: Introverts dislike networking.

Fact: When done in such a way that plays to the strengths of introverts, networking can be a bearable—even enjoyable—activity.

 

It has been interesting to reflect on the times I have used my introversion as an excuse to avoid conversation, apologize for being quiet, or tell myself that I’m not going to make money. I have enjoyed reading The Introvert Entrepreneur because it has helped me change my mindset about how my gifts as an introvert equip me to be a stellar business owner.

 

Have you ever let something about you become an excuse to hold yourself back? What helped you realize that was happening? What did you do to change your mindset? Leave a comment and let me know.

 

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One Follow-Up Attempt Is All You Need

Katie Corbett holds the book "2-Hour Job Search"

By Katie Corbett

 

When you are looking for a job or for your next freelance project, it can be easy to get stuck in a cycle of following up with the same prospects over and over. Following up more than once saps time and energy, and it makes you feel like you are being productive when you are not actually reaching out to new people.

 

I read about only following up once in “The 2-Hour Job Search,” by Steve Dalton. Here are some reasons following up only once is preferable.

 

  • You won’t need to worry about annoying anyone.
  • You will be forced to focus on finding fresh leads.
  • You won’t keep contacting the same people over and over.
  • You will be getting work done that gets you closer to your goals.
  • You will be building relationships with new people.
  • The people you have been following up with won’t have to figure out how to get you off their backs.
  • People won’t feel obligated to work with you just to get you to stop following up.
  • You will find people who are ready to take action now.

 

I’ve set a rule in my business that I’m only going to follow up once with new prospects. I’m already excited about how much less stressed I will be as I implement this rule. This will be true, of course, unless more follow-ups are specifically requested. If someone explicitly tells you to follow up at a specific time, definitely do so. I got my first paying case studies writing client because I continued to follow up on the schedule that my prospect requested.

 

When you do reach-outs, try following up only once. Do you notice changes in how you use your time and energy moving forward? Do you notice changes in the number of people you’re able to contact as a result? I’d love to hear more about it, so leave me a comment.

 

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Exposing The Risk of Decision-Making Based on Sunk Costs

Katie Corbett holds the book "2-Hour Job Search"

By Katie Corbett

 

Everything has a cost. Whether it is time, energy, or money, working on projects always involves expenditure of resources.

 

In “The 2-Hour Job Search,” by Steve Dalton, the dangers of sunk costs is discussed. The danger of counting those costs is that you might continue working on a project or working in a job that is no longer good for you because you have put so much time, energy, or money into it already. I’ve found these questions helpful so I don’t get stuck continuing to work on things merely due to sunk costs.

 

  • Does this project still excite me?
  • Do I enjoy working on it?
  • Does it still align with my purpose and goals?
  • Do I still get satisfaction from working on it?
  • Does it still make sense given overall trends?
  • Why should I consider quitting?
  • Could I place this project on temporary hold?
  • Is there another way I could do the same kind of work with a different project?
  • If I continued working on it, what would be the continued costs?
  • Does this project still bring joy to my life?

 

I used these questions to evaluate whether to continue working on my garment project. The answer I came to was that it would be better for me to discontinue that project in favor of working on things that better align with my current activities. I feel very at peace with my decision and am happy I stopped when I did. I’m glad I didn’t continue to move forward on something that no longer made sense, although I’ve put tons of energy, thousands of dollars, and countless hours into it already.

 

Do you have a project you decided to discontinue? How do you feel about that? I look forward to reading your story in the comments.

 

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