I was listening to Ezra Klein interview lobbyist Tony Podesta.
Ezra asked Tony to share advice with people who wanted to lobby their congressperson or advocate for their cause. Tony's advice:
"Don't forget to make sure they know what you want. You've got to make an ask."
This sounds so obvious, yet so often we forget to make the ask.
Tony continued (paraphrasing): "I've seen advocates make these big long presentations and spend 30 minutes talking about their issues with their representative, but then when the leave the meeting, it's not clear what they specifically wanted that member to do."
When I worked in politics, there was this saying:
Ask. Be Specific. Be Quiet.
I first heard this mantra in the context of political fundraising, but it pays to steal good ideas, and "Ask. Be Specific. Be Quiet."has been a high value framework throughout my whole career.
(a good reminder that a good idea is worth a lot more when you can package it in a memorable way.)
Don't forget to make the ask, but don't jump the gun either.
A great ask is the culmination of an even better story.
So next time you're asking an investor for funding, a colleague for their time and energy, a local business to sponsor your event, or your boss for a raise - take the time craft an emotionally compelling story that will jive with how they see the world (which also means taking the time to understand how they see the world).
It feels good to believe in something and buy the future. And it’s our role as storytellers to help people make that leap.
Tell the right story. Ask. Be Specific. Be Quiet.
It will feel weird at first. Then you'll start seeing results and it will feel great.
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