If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get

If you don't ask, you don't get

Updated: June 1, 2023

It’s that simple.

For nearly everything in life, getting what you want is as simple as asking.

Will the answer always be “yes?” Certainly not.

But how do you know if you don’t try?

Nearly everything big in my life has come from asking

And I mean big!

“If you don’t ask, you don’t get it”

― Mahatma Ghandhi

My wife – Where would we be, if I hadn’t asked my wife out time and time again? It took nearly 3-4 asks before she finally says “yes.”

Maybe I should have even taken a hint, but I am glad that I didn’t.

Because of that, we have a wonderful life, two great kids, and she pushes me to be a better person every day.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Raises/Promotions– Nearly every raise that I have ever gotten has come from asking.

One of the first ones was the biggest. I was still making entry-level pay, but was working as a software engineer. Because I was self-taught, I had grown into a different role.

But no one was going to give me a raise. I had to push for it. I researched what my pay on the open market would likely be. It was 45% more than I was making now…I emailed the CEO and set up a meeting with him and my boss. And after making my arguments, they approved my 45% pay raise.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Equity in my business – Believe it or not, I wasn’t the founder of the startup that I ended up running as a partner and eventually as CEO.

In fact, I was only working with them as an Independent Contractor as a sort of side-hustle.

But it was clear that I worked well with the founders, and so I pitched them to take me on as a partner. They knew that I was the right person to partner with (I felt the same way). So they offered me a solid amount of equity to come on as the 3rd employee.

Still, I felt that I should ask for more – that my contribution would mean more. So I asked for double their initial offer, and they said yes.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Discounts – This one is pretty straightforward. If I feel that something is just a tad overpriced, especially in a negotiable setting such as booking a short-term rental, I’ll ask for a discount.

Even something so simple as getting your carpets cleaned, plumbing repaired, or windows washed. Ask if they have any discounts!

Heck, this even works for hotels (or used to). I would call up and ask if they have any specials or any other discounts prior to booking. You just don’t know, until you ask.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Help/Favors – Sometimes, in business and in life, you just have to know when to ask for help.

Realizing where your expertise is limited, or where you need another set of eyeballs is key. For me, this has been legal work or specific marketing expertise. I don’t call in favors very often, but I will if I need to!

If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Forgiveness – Let’s face it. We rub people the wrong way. And sometimes the only thing we can do is ask for forgiveness.

Even if they don’t give it, I would rather have asked and tried, than never talk to the person again. I’m sorry really does go a long way. When you are truly sorry, and mainly to forgive yourself, even if the other person is not yet there.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

You have to know when to ask

Knowing when to ask for something is just as important as asking.

An ill-timed ask, may lead to “no” – just because the person or business is busy.

I don’t know precisely how to define when the right time is…it depends on the situation.

But more often than than not, you’ll know it in your gut when it is the right time.

So knowing when to ask is the first step.

Then, you need to take the leap. No matter what happens.

Don’t take “no” personally

Then the next step is to not take “no” personally.

People are busy. Life is crazy. People say no. It’s likely never, ever, personal.

So don’t take it personally. You have to keep trying.

 “Asking” is a skill that can be practiced and learned but you need to be self aware.

– Mark Suster, The One Word That Shouldn’t Exist in an Entrepreneur’s Vocabulary

I may ask for a discount and be told no from one short-term rental, only to get a “yes” from another.

I may have been told “no” from my wife for three times in a row, but finally, on the fourth time, it was a “yes.”

And you will get “no’s” for big things too. You may ask for a raise at work, and get a “no” – and as crappy as that may be at the time, at least you asked.

Once you ask, you know where you stand – and you can ask what you need to do to turn a “yes” into a “no” – you’ll have all the ammo you need to move forward.

Like anything in life, you just have to keep going, keep trying, and have a short-term memory.

The more you ask, the better you’ll get at it. The easier it will be.

I always feel better after asking

If it is something I have been thinking about for a while, such as a raise, promotion, or joining a business…it is best to ask.

When you do, a weight is lifted off your shoulders.

Even, if the answer is “no,” you’ll feel better with yourself for asking.

So just remember, that it all starts with the ask.

When the time is right, you’ll know, and you’ll ask.

But if you don’t ask, you won’t get.

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  1. Had no idea you asked your wife out 3-4 times. What a great story, persistence paid off in the end!

    Can you go into more detail on how you scored the 45% raise? Did it just take one conversation or did it take multiple? Did you feel any doubt at any point when you were asking for the 45% increase? When they gave it to you, did you feel like their expectations went up by 45% as well?

    1. As for the raise, I certainly was nervous…but in this case, I was working a job that I was not brought in for. I came in at lower entry level pay, because I was working as an intrapreneur to start a new division of the company. I took lower pay, because I knew that if successful I could grow into a larger role.

      However, that did not pan out, and I ended up being moved into the software engineering department. In reality, the CEO was really saving my job at that time, but after a year of working in that position for the same pay, it was clear the company was performing again and I should push for market rate.

      I don’t recall the exact back and forth. I think it took me a few weeks to get a meeting and response, but ultimately, they wanted to keep me and approved my pay increase.

  2. Great article and I agree 100%. We live in a culture where we are taught failure is bad. Unfortunately this leads a lot of people fearful of trying if they don’t know they’ll get the result they want.

    NASA blew a few rockets up before they made it to the moon “failing” is just the process of figuring out what works.

    Keep up the good work!

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