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The Power of Asking for Help

It’s easy to think that great leaders like Steve Jobs got that way by telling people what to do, bossing them around, or instilling fear in those who work for them. This would be a mistake. In my experience, the greatest leaders of all create a compelling vision of the future, and they inspire their employees to achieve things they didn’t think they could do. Not only that, but they know how to ask their people to help them turn their vision into reality.

In 1994-just two years before he returned to Apple, the company he co-founded-Jobs was interviewed by the Santa Clara Valley Historical Association. In the video from this interview, he talks about the remarkable power of asking for what you want.

“Now, I’ve actually always found something to be very true, which is most people don’t get those experiences because they never ask. I’ve never found anybody who didn’t want to help me when I’ve asked them for help.”

Jobs goes on to tell about the time when he was 12 years old that he decided to call Bill Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, to ask for some spare parts to build a frequency counter (Hewlett’s home phone number was in the Palo Alto phone book at the time). Not only did Hewlett readily agree to young Steve’s request, but he offered him a summer job at his company, assembling frequency counters.

“I’ve never found anyone who’s said no or hung up the phone when I called-I just asked. And when people ask me, I try to be as responsive, to pay that debt of gratitude back. Most people never pick up the phone and call, most people never ask. And that’s what separates, sometimes, the people that do things from the people that just dream about them. You gotta act. And you’ve gotta be willing to fail, you gotta be ready to crash and burn, with people on the phone, with starting a company, with whatever. If you’re afraid of failing, you won’t get very far.”

Another Bit of Wisdom from Peter Economy

Sara Ohara
sara@saraohara.com
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