It hurts to ask, or it doesn’t … Wait? Wha?


Seth Godin has a new post up positing that it doesn’t hurt to ask, unless it does.

I’ve voiced a bit of my opinions of Seth’s business advice previously, so I was a bit surprised when I found myself in agreement with his post.

His post begins:

“It doesn’t hurt to ask”

Actually, it does hurt. It does hurt to ask the wrong way, to ask without preparation, to ask without permission. It hurts because you never get another chance to ask right.

And continues:

If you run into Elton John at the diner and say, “Hey Elton, will you sing at my daughter’s wedding?” it hurts any chance you have to get on Elton John’s radar. You’ve just trained him to say no…

He concludes with some reasonable recommendations for not having asking hurt you, but he also adds:

Every once in a while, of course, asking out of the blue pays off. So what? That is dwarfed by the extraordinary odds of failing.

This is where I disagree.

I think too often we fear of failing. In fact – there are many successes I’m sure I’ve walked away from simply because I was afraid or unwilling to ask. Conversely a small start up I’ve helped is led by someone always willing to ask for help and who is candid about what he can and cannot give in return. I’m in awe at the opportunities presented to him simply because he had the courage to ask.

So my thoughts… ask away. Seth’s recommendations: Do your homework, build connections definitely apply, I think there is a social EQ you need when you ask away. You need to be respectful of other people’s time and tuned in to when someone is uncomfortable with your request (though discomfort can often lead to opportunity).

And while Seth recommends making a reasonable request, I disagree. I say you ask for what you need. Couple that with your homework, your connections, and preparation, you may get a no but more than likely you’ll at least get insight in return.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. I’d rather have the problem that I’m willing to ask for too much, than have the problem that I ask for too little.

7 Common Cents Insights for Naming Your Product / Company

Branding, Uncategorized

Naming a better mousetrap

Part 1 in what is likely to be an ongoing series across multiple blogs on naming a company.

Naming your company or a project is serious business. If you’re anything like me naming the beast is on the critical path to designing the website or lay out. I’ve gone through this experience recently with Jon Pincus and the process is on going.

I’ve gone through the naming process more than a few times, with everything from BlueLounging (Brandon, and my first project together a textbook exchange hub) to this blog to StickyTAG. Its always an interesting experience. I’ll speak to some of my lessons.

  1. The product is what matters. I want to put this upfront to make it clear, that a great name and a bad product is about as useful as sunblock in a snowstorm. So yes while naming the beast matters – you always need to put things in context and understand that its one component of the overall brand.
    (continue to read six more Common Cents Naming Insights for your product or company)