The fearless art of learning to ask

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 9.15.06 AMIf you haven’t seen the Amanda Palmer TED video, stop what you are doing and spend 13 minutes listening and watching. I’ve loved the Dresden Dolls for a long time along with Amanda Palmer‘s bold-faced attitude but I never really grasped what she was about, how it was relevant to the change in music or, on a bigger scale, how companies need to change in order to create fans.

Asking for help can really stink. My six year old will not wear shoes with laces most days because it requires him asking me to tie them (that is another story.) Why do we hate to ask for help? I’ll tell you why. It makes us feel weak, vulnerable, dumb, insecure, not worthy, pick your adjective. But what happens when we put all that self-inflicted crap aside and ask for help? The floodgates open. People we never dreamed of helping us, come to our aid. I saw this as I went through my divorce. I have never felt more vulnerable in my life – I didn’t need help. I had all the answers. I had my shit together. I couldn’t ask for help. Once I let myself go and let myself be open to the amazing people in my life who were ready to catch me, my life changed. I changed. I realized the power of knowing I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know how to do it all. But, I know when to call on my network, my friends, my family, my people, to make it happen.

Businesses need to learn how to ask for help. I watch so many brands trying to “engage” or “interact” or “listen” or “create a movement.” It’s all lip-service until you start to ask your fans, your customers, your clients to help you. Imagine the humbleness it requires to say to your audience: “Hey guys, what’s the thing we could do RIGHT NOW to make you love us even more?” And then, to actually do it. Brands have gotten great at being provocative and reeling people in but, in most cases, they never deliver. Imagine Amanda Palmer asking for a couch to crash on in Boston, me tweeting her back and her showing up at my place in the North End 30 minutes later. Now that’s asking for help and delivering (man, that would be freaking awesome!) Maybe your brand doesn’t need a couch to crash on, but the analogy is the same. If you ask, you must follow-thru. How is your brand making a connection with the people who want to help? Think about what you need to ask for to learn who your audience is…What motivates them? What gets them psyched about your brand? How do they want to help? How will you deliver on it when they help you?

Stop listening. Listening is passive. Start asking and take a bold step toward as Amanda says, becoming the hat. Let your crowd catch you. Build a connection with the people who want to help. They are there. They are ready. They are waiting to be asked to the dance. Go on and…ask.

The video:

 

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