How to Own Your Ask

Have you ever asked for something and heard nothing back?  Are you getting tired of asking and hearing nothing but crickets?  It may be because you are not really asking for what you need. On balance, people like to help one another. Helping someone else actually boosts your own happiness. So, if all this helping is good for us, why do we sometimes not receive what we are asking for?

When you are asking and not receiving a response, take a look at the question you asked.  Are you calling out an action?  Are you giving a deadline?  Is your voice authentic?

If you are unsure about any of these, you are probably not asking specifically for what you need.  This is especially true when we are not feeling confident.  I catch people all the time asking in a vague voice something like, “if you have time to help me, please let me know.”  Other versions of this question look like, “could you please look at this document and give me some feedback? AND “Perhaps I can meet your co-worker one day?” AND the ubiquitous “I would love to meet you for coffee…”

It might seem obvious that these questions go unanswered as they lack either a specific ask or a specific timeframe or both. However, I know that I have asked one of these questions and perhaps you have as well – we are all guilty of not asking for what we need.  In the service of saving everyone’s precious time, I am advocating for you to ask yourself the following questions before you ask anyone for anything.

  1. What are you actually asking for?  (be as clear and concise as possible.)
  2. When do you need it completed? 
  3. Is that time realistic?

Here’s the same coffee question written with specifics and authenticity:

“I’d like to meet for coffee sometime in the next two weeks to pick your brain about this project. Please let me know when you have 30 mins”

Next you need to ensure that the context you are proposing is aligned with your ask. For instance, if you would like to network with someone, coffee would be an appropriate context. However, if you would like an introduction or referral then meeting for coffee is a waste of time.  Here is a quick reference guide to help you determine the context for your ask:

  • I need a Referral= resource=email or LinkedIn
  • I need an Introduction= access=email or LinkedIn
  • I need a Favor= time
  • Directions= information=text
  • Networking or information= exchange of information=Coffee or buy the person lunch
  • Ideas=brainstorming=meeting room
  • Support=listening=face to face
  • Editing=expertise=google docs for review

For every two parts happiness add one part meaning

If you want to find more fulfillment in your work follow this equation
Passion projects aside, the search for fulfilling work does not need to center around your personal happiness. It is important to feel good while in your work environment and for your work to be in alignment with your values, but happiness as a goal for work may be leaving you a bit shortchanged. Here’s why, happiness is found in the present whereas meaning transcends time to include past/present/future.

Meaningfulness is something we invest energy in without expecting a return.

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Bringing your retreat home


We retreat to get away from it all and collect our energy that is otherwise spread out in multiple directions for inner growth. All the stress, noise, responsibilities and distractions of everyday life melt away and we are able to get back in touch with who we are and what is important to us. We use the fresh perspective that a new environment provides to reconnect with ourselves and find our flow. Sometimes we learn something new or understand a situation that has been troubling us. Sometimes we meet someone who inspires us. Most often we are simply reset and reinvigorated and return home hoping to keep this fresh perspective alive.


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Cultivating Executive Presence: What it is, Why you need it and 5 steps to get it!

I have a purposeful walk. I have heard this statement many times in my life and sometimes I reflect on how my walk is perceived as purposeful. My head is held high, my gait is quick and I am often not taking in all of my surroundings. I have somewhere to go and I am focused on getting there. People perceive that I am in alignment with my purpose to get there.

But what if my response to the statement was, “Really? I don’t have anywhere to be. I was just walking.” 

The observer who made the comment about my purposeful walk may feel uneasy.  My cavalier response may cause them to question my authenticity. Social science has taught us that when we meet someone, we almost instantaneously begin to create stories about them. We are experts at reading faces and stereotyping based on appearance. But we don’t often discuss that we are also perceiving how aligned someone is with their authentic self. If we meet someone dressed in a formal wear we assign them a certain amount of power and influence. Inside this person may be feeling insecure, tired, or otherwise off, but if they maintain eye contact and have a firm handshake, we buy into their power.

This is the foundation of executive presence.

When we are aligned with the image we project, we have presence that is experienced by another human being. I’m not sure how many of you watched Mad Men in it’s heyday..if you did, you know that Don Draper sets the gold standard for executive presence. He embodies power and influence even if he was not feeling it inside.

Now that we know what executive presence is, how do we cultivate it? 

5 tips to cultivate Executive Presence:

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I know I’m stuck when I have no answer for the simple question, what’s going on?  My honest answer would be, not much and everything at the same time…I am exhausted and not getting anything done!  But to be more PC, I give a standard answer about the usual life stuff: work, kid, travel, house, etc.

Does this sound familiar?

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Reframing Can Set You Free

Are you facing a seemingly unsolvable problem?  Are you stuck, spinning, not knowing what action to take?

You may need a Reframe. 

Do you have a problem? If you have been losing sleep over the same problem for a long time, you may be trying to solve the wrong problem. Try this simple exercise to reframe your problem into something you can solve.

A good way to know if you are working on the wrong problem is to ask yourself, “what would your life look like if you solved the problem?”

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