Tuesday, February 27, 2007

CEO Playbook: If You Want Something, Ask for It

Sometimes, I think the greatest advice I ever heard was, "Never get involved in a land war in Asia", but then I realize no, it's actually this advice: "It never hurts to ask." Sure, it may hurt your pride, but if you have that kinda of pride that then you have deeper issues you better get worked out.

I've made it a habit over the last couple years, that whenever someone, usually salespeople, tell me they don't have any more tickets, Wiis, or monkey brains; I will then ask them if there is any other way I can see the show, find a Wii, or gnaw on delicious monkey brain. Turns out, there usual is.

People like to help other people. By asking someone for help, that person become involved in your problem. They want to find a solution for you. And since they are often the gatekeeper between you and the thing you want, their help is necessary. Sometimes, in fact, they bend the rules, just to help you get what you want. Why? Just because you asked. Crazy, eh?

Anyway, here's the context of this post. John and I wanted to get into the Game Developer's Conference 2007 because Tenuki is, on one level, a games company. The cost of a pass to the meatiest parts of the conference is $1675, if you bought ahead of time. We didn't. So we were looking at paying $1850 each to attend the conference. That's a lot of money for an early-stage startup.

So naturally, I started asking people how I could get into the conference for free. Okay, the truth is that I went around begging for passes, but someone on a mailing list advised me to check out the GDC Conference Associates (volunteer) program. The program stopped taking applications in January, but I figured I'd email the manager of the program and see if they had any last minute dropouts that needed to be replaced. They did, but I guess you figured that or I wouldn't be telling this story.

Now, I'm going to the GDC for free, well actually in exchange for 20 hours of volunteer labor, but the point is, had I not asked, I would be not be attending the biggest games industry conference of the year. And now, I am.

So there you have it folks, the power of asking for what you want.

Now, I'm going to ask all of you a favor, tell anyone you know who might be interested in startups, games, techie garbage, or humorous stories about my night with Britney Spears (a razor was involved) to check out my blog. Then force them to subscribe by offering food, coffee, or monkey brains. That's what usually works for me.