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28 Mar Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments

Me:      Dad, where do shadows come from?
Dad:    Look it up.

Me:      Dad, where’s Ecuador?
Dad:    Look it up.

Me:      Dad? Is my arm broken?
Dad:    Look it up.

I grew up in the day (or maybe it was just in my family) when children were supposed to be seen and not heard. We were corduroy-clad accessories expected to keep our room neat, get good grades, and clean our plates or children in China would starve. If I asked my dad how to set this newfangled VCR – he’d say read the directions. If I asked him out to get to summer camp, he’d say buy a map. If I asked him how to keep Aunt Marge from passing out in her dinner plate again, he’d say look it up. While it seemed callous at the time, Dad did me a favor that would last a lifetime.  He taught me that if you want something, go after it yourself instead of waiting for someone to hand it to you.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s very wise to ask for advice and surround yourself with people who are three rungs ahead of you on the ladder of success. I have asked for advice several times in my career. And there is a proper etiquette, by the way, to asking for advice. I’ve included it at the end of this article. But there is a difference in asking for advice, and expecting everybody to do the work for you.

Jane Doe posted a question in her professional social media group. Nobody answered it. So she posted it again. Still no answer. She posted again – stating her frustration that nobody was helping her – what kind of group is this, she cried. And I could feel hair starting to grow out of my ears, my Adams apple growing, and a deep growl entering my voice as I channeled my father, and I heard myself screaming the words I was raised on: LOOK IT UP! Quit waiting for other people to bring you all the answers. Stop waiting for them to do all the work. Figure it out! They spent a lot of time and effort learning all of this the hard way – why should you get to skip this process?

There are two types of people out there – the ones who go make it happen, and the ones who wait for others to give it to them. I remember when I first started in this business as a motivational speaker, I kept thinking that all I needed was that one person to “notice me” and I would become an overnight success. Wrong. It took me years to realize that if I waited for the phone to ring, it was never going to ring. I had to go after it myself. Yuck. Hard work. Yuck. Cold Calls. Yuck. Reading, reading, and more reading. But I did it. That’s how bad I wanted it. And I learned that while there would be people who would come in my life and help, it was really up to me to get out there and “look it up.” There is no shortcut around hard work.

If you want to learn how to grow your business – look it up. I promise, every answer you seek is already out there on the internet. You can find a book on every subject you could ever want. There are coaches, consultants, blogs, webinars, and podcasts – all giving away free information. Sure, you can still get on your social media and ask a question – and there will be people who will give you valuable advice – it’s a beautiful thing. But you can’t expect to get all your training by sitting on your computer and asking people to give it to you. Eventually, you will have to go out there and figure it out.

I hope this free advice has been helpful to you. And if there’s any question I have left unanswered, I happily encourage you to go out there and look it up.

The Rules of Etiquette When Asking For Advice

  1. Know the person. Try to avoid calling up strangers and asking them to help you with the big decisions in your life. While we really want to help – we can’t help everybody – and it’s a tiny bit selfish of you to think we can stop everything to give career advice to somebody we’ve never even met. So what do you do if you don’t know anybody who can help? See number 2.
  2. Get out there and meet people. Hang out in the places where these people would hang out. Then develop relationships. Find mentors who live close to you – who might not mind meeting for a cup of coffee. And BUY THEIR COFFEE! It’s the least you could do.
  3. Use Social Media. It’s a great place to jump into conversations and get advice. And it’s understood that this is the place to network and learn from each other. But you can’t expect them to do your work for you either. Try to follow the same rules of etiquette when asking for advice on social media.
  4. Try to wait for the other person to offer help, or at least open the door. I’ve asked for advice in my career – but never from a complete stranger – always from someone that I’ve met along the way – someone with whom I have developed something of a friendship with. I try to wait for someone who is familiar with me and what I do, to offer to help. Then I ask. It’s truly the most respectful way.
  5. Respect their time and their space. Keep your conversations brief. Don’t tell them your entire life story. Don’t follow them to their car. Don’t show up at the same restaurant where they are having lunch with their family. They agreed to answer questions, not be your lifelong friend.
  6. Be prepared. Know what it is you want to ask them, and how they can help you. Have a short list of questions prepared. Stick to them.
  7. Don’t ask for the moon. Let them offer to do more if they want. You are asking for advice. Do not ask them to do your work for you.
  8. Be appreciative. Thank you gifts are a nice touch. Doesn’t have to be expensive – just something to show that you appreciate what they did. They didn’t have to do it. You weren’t entitled to their help.
  9. Then do it! Follow their advice! Don’t come back a year later asking the same questions again. Now you just want a therapist. Nothing aggravates me more than having to give the same advice over and over. I told you what you had to do – now do it.
  10. Give back. This is a two-way street. Don’t be taker. We can sniff out when someone is all take and no give. You don’t have to spend every waking moment trying to figure out how to repay the person you gave advice to – just go out and help others yourself – give advice yourself – pay it forward.
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