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March 25, 2009

Daily Asker: Here To Stay!

March 25. Day 268.

Faster than you can say "Daily Asker Taskmaster," this project is becoming something else. Months ago, I used to be on a constant lookout for opportunities and set out thinking of ways to ask -- and if I didn't find any that day, I used to go out of my way to ask at, say, 1 a.m. Some of my favorite posts grew from that desperation. (Sorority and Pedicab, for example.)

Now, I'm still pausing in the evening to make sure I've asked -- but almost always, I find that I have. In other words, it's getting to be natural and spontaneous, and less about me saying, "I'm must ask for something today! Ak! Ok, I guess I'll ask the bus driver if I can take over for at the wheel for five minutes." Lately, I wasn't even thinking about it. I didn't make a particular effort or feel my heart racing out of anxiety or excitement.

It wasn't contrived.

In other words....

I've made asking a routine. This is both fantastic, since it means that after 9 months of doing it daily, I've finally raised the bar to where looking for opportunities and becoming assertive is approaching second nature.

It's also worrisome, because, type-A that I am, I am not easily satisfied with my results. My next natural question is, what next? How do I bring asking to the next level? How do I become not just a daily asker, but a better daily asker?

A few ways come to mind.

First, I need to plug back into the news. At the beginning of this project, I was always looking for "negotiation" and even the word "asking" in the news. I'd post the links here, and it was food for thought. If I start doing that again, it will help me see others in action, and keep asking on my mind.

Second, I need to raise the bar in terms of what I'm asking for. Not every day, but whenever the opportunity arises. I think I've gotten comfortable with the notion that I've asked, and that's that. But maybe I shouldn't be satisfied with a free cookie anymore. Maybe I should ask for the recipe itself. Aim bigger. Aim realistically, practically (or not!), but bigger. Stop being so comfortable. One amazing thing this project has done was force me to evaluate what I want and need, what are my priorities, who and what I'm willing to speak up for. Whether it's my grandmother's dignity, or silence on a bus. Well, I can keep up the routine, but find ways to stretch. Optimize. Constantly reevaluate. Ask for the pony because I want the pony, not the kitten. And get the pony.

Third, I need to develop new methods that actually get me what I want, and look for different opportunities, not just more of the same. Of course, "just opening my mouth and asking," which was the initial catchphrase of this project, has led to many fantastic gains and experiences. But there are many things I did want, and didn't get. Why did I get rejected? What could I have done differently? Time to take stock. Since I'm not often buying cars or negotiating house down payments, I think I need to outsource. Myself, that is. Find people who are approaching larger transactions and offer to step in, with the guarantee I'll back off the moment the want me to. That would be an essential way to use my new skills, and develop newer ones.

Fourth, and I think this is a big one. I need to tap into the experts. That's what got me started in the first place: the book Women Don't Ask, which changed my approach to transactions and interactions from the first chapter. It was a wake-up call. I recently bought the authors's next book, Ask for It, which I'm about to start reading. Well, how else can I keep learning? Who else is out there? What other writers, researchers -- or bloggers -- are approaching this or similar subjects? What other books are good on this subject?

Fifth, I need to get the word out. Do you have any friends who are reporters or bloggers, who could write about The Daily Asker? Do you read any websites or blogs that could link back to me? How about you send them my link! Having people visit this site and leave comments is a major motivator. Otherwise I could ask and not document it, or skip a day and no one would know but me. You guys keep me on task. So... if you know anyone who might like this site, please take a moment to email them the link or mention it next them they could have -- or should have -- asked. Women, men, kids, grandmas, employees, bosses, friends. This post would be a good place to start, actually!

Finally: Long to-do list. So little time. Between finishing grad school, finding work and living my life, there's no way I'm going to get this all done in under three months. So... I'm starting to think that I can't stop in July!! I mean, I had all these plans. Nab a great starting salary. Ask for a better car deal. Ask for a tour of Asker, Norway. Ask for a segway ride. I'm not even halfway to where I want to be, in terms of negotiated gains. I've parked my fear at the door and learned to speak up, I've looked for slick ways to get what I want, but there's so much left to tackle.

And so... at the bottom of this long post, for anyone who is still reading, I'm announcing that unless my lips get sealed shut on July 1 or I develop the Negotiation Superpower overnight, I will keep on asking! And keep blogging about it!!

Thanks to all of you readers who have been following my adventures, sending me your ideas, questions and encouragement. You've brought this project to a whole different dimension!

Speaking of asking... I was playing around on, a logo generator, and came up with about 12 possible logos for this site. Just for fun, ya know? I made a file with them and today, I asked the man sitting next to me what he thought. Within about 10 seconds, he told me he liked the second one. Hands down. It's also one of my favorites. I have a few more ideas for year two. The logo is just frosting. Stay tuned!!

Gained: 266 days of asking, and counting.
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