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October 20, 2010

Outed! Meet The Daily Asker

Gentle Reader,

On July 1, 2008, I decided to try asking for something every day for one year. My goal was to push my limits and see how far I could get. Over the course of the year, and ever since, this project has expanded to be about a lot more than my own objectives and benefits. I've connected thousands of aspiring and accomplished askers who have experienced the same struggles and victories that I have.

Because let's face it: the time of sitting back demurely and expecting others to acknowledge us is over. If we don't request or, if need be, demand that our needs are met, that our talents are recognized, that our contributes are justly and equitably compensated, then we have no one to blame but ourselves.

All this time, I kept my identity a secret. First, I didn't want the people I was asking to find out I was blogging, lest it change their attitudes. Perhaps they'd be more (or less) inclined to say yes, if they knew publicity was just around the corner. For the results of the year-long asking experiment to be somewhat reliable, I had to come across as a girl-on-the-street, asking like any of you might: Blog-free. Not keeping stats. Just asking. Second, I was worried that if my name got out there as The Daily Asker, if it got linked to this blog, it might hamper eventual negotiations. "She is The Daily Asker!?" a potential employer might think (I thought). "Well then we have to lowball, since she's obviously going to negotiate."

Today I know that OF COURSE I will not accept any compensation that's below my market value. No one I would work with, or for, would have a problem with that. And since I'm not asking daily anymore, I think it's time to shed the mystery...


My name is Roxana Popescu.

I also go by Roxy.

I live in San Diego, California, as you know.

I bike to work as often as I can.

I detest wind -- it makes any weather situation worse. Hotter heat, wetter wet. The exception is a cooling breeze on a hot day. I'll take that. I'd even ask for it, if I thought it would make a difference, but nature is usually deaf to my entreaties.

I have dark brown hair which has been several other colors: darker chestnut, dark caramel blond (see below), auburn.

My dissertation was about something that had nothing to do with asking: the representation of balconies in painting and literature, from 1150 to 1912. My degree is from Harvard, so when I was writing about "back east" and Boston, I really meant Cambridge, Mass.

And those freelance gigs I've been mentioning -- the projects I just wrapped up in Italy, and elsewhere -- are articles. I freelance write for a mix of publications, some in San Diego and some elsewhere. Throughout my time asking, I've been very careful to avoid conflicts of interest. (For example, I never wrote about local restaurants or the travel industry after scoring goodies there, and I've never asked or blogged about the topics I report about.) I also checked with reporting colleagues and Poynter's ethics hotline.

By the way, reporters also ask a lot of questions, but that's quite different from asking on behalf of yourself. When I'm doing an article, it's easy to ask hard questions because the public's benefit is on the line. What I needed to learn was if I could ask on behalf of little old me. Eventually, I discovered that I'm worth it, too. Every single one of us is.

As for this blog: It's not going anywhere!! I'm going to keep on asking, negotiating, and developing this space. I have a few regular features in mind, a resources section, recommended books. Basically, I'd like to keep this site as a destination for anyone interested in learning how to be a better asker. At the same time, I'm going to reach out to readers in other outlets -- Forbes, where I started blogging, and whatever other opportunities emerge.

A note in closing:

Every time one of you left a comment or sent me an email, the knowledge that my adventure was impacting someone else totally made my day. Every time I read or heard about a woman negotiating for a raise or better starting salary, I smiled -- and then asked her how she did it so I could pass that on to you. And whenever I learned that The Daily Asker was helping someone shed a fear, identify a goal and get it, learn from my mishaps and successes, it made me itch to write the next post. That's what has kept me writing: knowing people out there find my exercises useful.

I thank you, gentle reader, for the offering me privilege of writing to you.

How being "out" affects my asking and blogging remains to be seen... but if I liked certainty, I never would have started this asking experiment in the first place. :)

Since I'm not sure what else to say, how about I leave it at that, for now. Meanwhile, if you have any questions, just ask.


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