Be Direct – Ask for What You Want
The topic that stood out for me was “Ask for What You Want”. I’ve been collecting notes on the subject for a few months, so you can imagine my delight when he brought it up! And since the story he shared has an unexpected and delightful outcome, I asked him for permission to share it here with you.
In 2014, Bob was invited to present his sales methodology at a three-day conference organized by an international business association. The event would be held in Washington DC, the audience full of industry leaders from around the world. It was a great opportunity for him to share decades of experience and success with his target audience.
Since the event was to be held in DC, Bob decided to fly his wife and kids in for the weekend and take in the museums and landmarks as a family.
For years, Bob had been telling friends and family about the quality of his business network and the lengths he took to protect and nurture it -- and the fact that, due to his discipline, the last five or six Presidents of the United States were just one or two degrees of separation from him. They’d take his call, he’d say, all he needed was a topic important enough to justify their time. Bob’s eyes always twinkled on that last line.
Bob was quite excited to share his big news at dinner that night, but his wise-acre son, having heard the story for so many years, seized the moment and challenged Bob. “Dad”, he asked, “you always tell us how the President would take your call. How about giving him a call and setting up a private tour of the White House for us while we’re in DC?”. Smiling, Bob said, “Great idea Buddy!”, but he was entirely unsure about how to make that happen.
A few days later he was in session with one of his peer groups. Per their agenda, he’d brought a personal challenge and a professional challenge to share. "Next month”, he said when his turn came, “I'll be sharing my sales methodology with one of the most prestigious groups in my career. It’s a three-day presentation and could lead to great things for my firm. That’s my professional challenge. My personal challenge is that, because it’s in the DC-area, I’m bringing my family in to see the sights – and my wise-ass son asked me to book us a private tour of the White House. Can anyone help?”. It felt like he was asking for the impossible.
Why do we struggle to ask for what we want? What holds us back? The thought that we’re not worthy of help? That there isn’t enough to go around? Or is it the opposite – our expectations, our entitlements, our egos get in the way of asking a simple question?
Kids are masters of asking for what they want. Bob’s son is a perfect example. But as we mature that willingness fades. Some folks learn to put everyone else’s needs before their own. Some of us won’t admit when we’ve reached the limits of our own capacity and let the fear of being in a vulnerable position stop us from asking for help. Regardless, all we’re really doing is slowing down the journey to reach our true potential.
Researchers have found that people overestimate by 50% the number of people they need to ask in order to fulfill a request https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/francis-flynn-if-you-want-something-ask-it. I’ve found that when I ask for what I want from a place of gratitude and acceptance, sometimes my world expands and fulfills my request.
Back to Bob – when he asked for a personal tour of the White House, the unexpected happened. One gentleman stood and said, “You know what Bob, I think I can help you out. My college roommate runs Daily Operations team at the White House. Give me a few days and let me see what I can do.”
A few days later Bob’s friend got back to him. “Great news”, he said, “not only will your family be getting a private tour of the White House, but the Obama family happens to be in town that weekend so you’ll be spending 20 minutes with the President, the First Lady, and their girls!”
By simply asking for what he wanted Bob made the impossible into reality. If there’s video of Bob sharing that piece of good news with his family, I’d love to see it - when his son heard that he’d be meeting the Obamas the look on his face must have been priceless.
Curious about Bob’s sales and networking trainings? Check out https://samuraibizgrp.com/ -- and thank you Bob, for letting me share your story.