Home > Access, Ask, Communication, IRL, Job, People, Questions, Simplicity > Just Ask. It Is That Simple.

Just Ask. It Is That Simple.

My reason for sharing my interactions with people is to show how simple it is to engage people – I ask. Many of us spend an inordinate amount of time studying tricks and tactics on how to get a difficult meeting, negotiate a lower price on a new camera or score a first class upgrade.  Are we overcomplicating our lives and forgetting the obvious?

Consider the following story I wrote years ago about how I got my first ‘real’ job:

During my junior year at Duke, I was scrambling to find a summer internship in New York City, preferably on Wall Street.  My objectives were to be challenged, to learn about what those guys in suits actually do and to figure out what to do after graduation.  It was 1997, and I was also naively attracted to New York City from watching too many episodes of Sex in the City.  As I considered my options, CNBC was on TV in the background, and I noticed Maria Bartiromo, a.k.a. “the Money Honey”, on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange trying to interview a CEO without being knocked over.  I was impressed by her scrappy demeanor, but she definitely looked like she could use a hand.  I called CNBC’s switchboard and asked for Maria Bartiromo.  She answered the phone herself, and I asked if she would consider hiring me as her summer intern (without knowing if the role even existed).  Maria confirmed that she was looking for an intern, but that it was an unpaid position.  I briefly considered living in New York City for three months without any income and decided to explore my alternatives.

I learned that John Mack, the CEO of Morgan Stanley, was a Duke Alum.  His nickname,“Mack the Knife”, indicated that he may be more difficult to engage than Maria Bartiromo, so I bought some heavy writing paper and a fancy pen.  I spent hours writing and rewriting a letter explaining why I wanted to work at Morgan Stanley.  I ended the letter asking John Mack if he would consider offering me a summer internship.  About a week later John Mack called to thank me for my handwritten letter and offered me an internship.  My first thought was:  I could not believe what can be accomplished by simply asking.  My second thought was:  I hope John Mack never finds out that “the Money Honey” was my first choice.

Asking is not easy.  It comes with the risk of rejection and requires years of repetition and practice.  My odds have improved since 1997, but I have also experienced my fair share of rejection.  As I continue to write about people, you may wonder why perfect strangers are willing to speak to me.  My answer is always the same – I ask.

Posted via web from www.LizaSperling.com

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