January 2, 2021
Move in a little closer. I’m about to tell you how to get everything you want in life.
First, a story…
I live on a residential street in west Toronto. It’s a charming little street lined with century homes. My house was built in 1912.
Back in 2017, there was a knock at my door. A man introduced himself as the Assistant Location Manager for an upcoming film and explained that his crew would be filming on my street for a few days that winter, and every homeowner would be financially compensated for participating.
“Sweet!” I thought. “Free money!”
He drafted an agreement for me to sign with an offer of $500. That’s when it dawned on me that I had bargaining power. The main house being featured in the film is directly across from mine, meaning the crew would be setting up all kinds of gear on my property.
In addition, they would be closing off the street to local traffic for several days during filming. As a massage therapist with a home-based practice, this would be disruptive to my business.
I drafted this response to his offer:
We are asking for $1000. Our property will be more affected by filming than most of the other houses on the street. As well, any changes to traffic and street parking will negatively impact my home business. Please consider our counter-offer and reply at your convenience.
This email took me all of one minute to compose. Ok, maybe two minutes. And you know what? He said yes. No push-back. No questions. No further negotiation. Just a simple yes. I received a cheque for $1000 a few weeks later.
And that’s how I made $500 in one minute.
The secret to getting what I wanted?
I asked for it.
I’ve lost track of how much I’ve gotten in life just by asking.
I once took 12 weeks of vacation in one year while working for someone else. How? By requesting the time off.
When I was buying paint for my last apartment, I asked the store clerk whether he wanted to give me the contractors’ discount. I’m not a contractor. I didn’t say I was a contractor. I just asked if he would give me the discount. He did.
In 2009, Nine Inch Nails played a concert in Toronto where fans could pay extra (the money went to charity) to get backstage access before the show and meet Trent Reznor and his band. When I met Trent, one of my childhood heroes, I asked if I could stand next to him in the group photo. Everyone else there wanted the same thing, but I was the only one who asked for it. That’s how I ended up standing next to a rock star in a sea of adoring fans.
In 2005, Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins played a solo show in Toronto. At the end of the show, as staff were clearing out the auditorium, I spotted someone I recognized who was working on set and I asked him if I could stay behind. He said yes, and that’s how I ended up getting this photo with my favourite musician of all time.
That same summer, Foo Fighters held an autograph signing at the HMV Superstore on Yonge Street. Fans had to earn their place in line for an exclusive photo shoot, so of course I camped out overnight to secure my spot. I skipped my university graduation ceremony for this moment (no regrets). The band would be playing an invite-only intimate show later that night at Lee’s Palace, a venue with just a 550-person capacity.
When it was time for my photo, I asked their guitarist if I could watch their pre-show soundcheck. Turns out they’d already completed it. That’s when Dave Grohl himself put my name on the guest list for the show. If you don’t receive an invitation, sometimes you have to ask for one.
A few years ago, a musician I adore came to town. She held an autograph signing after the show. When I got to the front of the line, I handed her my business card and told her to come see me the next time she was in town. “Can you come to my hotel tomorrow?” she asked. That’s how I ended up massaging one of my favourite musicians.
Is my life just a series of me following my favourite rock stars around all the time? Pretty much, yeah. But I earned every photo, autograph, and guitar pick with one simple trick: asking.
Asking is an art. It’s a skill that can be learned just like any other. It’s something a lot of people struggle with – especially women and especially women in healthcare. Asking is something I’ve had to practise my entire life to get comfortable with, and sometimes I still hesitate.
Full disclosure: That extra $500 I requested from the filmmakers? It wasn’t my idea at first. It was my brother’s idea. Bear with me while I make some sweeping generalizations that may sound controversial but are undeniably accurate…
This is one of the fundamental differences between men and women, and one of the major contributing factors of the gender wage gap. It’s well-documented that men negotiate for higher salaries, while women accept the first offer. It’s not our fault; it’s the way we’ve been socialized. But it is up to us to change it.
Ladies, asking for what you want is an act of feminism.
Here’s the fun part: Asking gets easier the more you do it. Once you start getting what you want just by asking, you’ll want to do it again and again and again.
If the thought of asking for things gives you anxiety, try starting small where the stakes are low. Ask the barista for extra foam on your next cappuccino. Ask for extra butter on your popcorn at the movies. Ask your Uber driver to turn down the music. Ask your massage therapist to spend more time working on your feet. You may be pleasantly surprised by how often you get a yes (and how grateful people are that you asked).
Before you know it, you’ll be asking your boss for a raise. You’ll be negotiating better working hours and more vacation time. You’ll be asking your kids to do more household chores. You’ll be asking your neighbour to stop using the leaf-blower at 7am. You’ll finally ask that cute human at the dog park for their number. And hey, maybe one day you’ll find yourself asking a virtual stranger for an extra $500.
Is asking a guaranteed way to get everything you want? Of course not. There’s always a chance the person on the receiving end will say no, but then you’re right back where you started so you haven’t really lost anything.
Pro tip: When you ask for something, let go of any expectations and be prepared for a no. Rejection also gets easier the more you experience it.
Asking is the best and simplest way to drastically increase your chances of getting what you want, and you’ll never know what you can get until you try.
So, tell me, what will you be asking for today? Let me know in the comments.
Want a massage where you’re free to ask for exactly what you want? Book an appointment at my Parkdale Home Massage Studio today.