You Don’t Get What You Don’t Ask


I have gotten used to getting the door slammed on me. This must have happened to me for quite some times, because I really don’t feel the slightest discomfort anymore.

I worked in sales. Not retail sales, but door to door “suicidal” sales.

Every day, I would knock on random doors on a street and hack my way into people’s houses. I would start with this, “Hi, my name is Jason Xie, from [XXXX company]. How are you today?”

You know how people complain that the illiteracy rate in the world is too high? Well I think that’s not the problem. Most people don’t know how to LISTEN – “how are you” does not equate to “please slam the door”.

Nevertheless, I loved that job. SERIOUSLY. It taught me many life lessons that I probably wouldn’t have learned anywhere else.

Day after day, week after week, I changed, after getting told “NO!” a few hundred times on daily basis. I had a date with rejection, but deep down in my heart, I think I knew that the relationship isn’t going to last.

I learned to take immense pride in continuing to ask people to buy things.

I learned that if I want to earn commission, I better expect a notorious “no” from every pitch. Success (my rate was 3.4%) comes from the “tell me more about it” after the endless straight up rejections.

ASKING someone for something is the ONLY way for you to get what you want. After all, you don’t get what you don’t ask. This fact stayed with me ever since.

When I was taking Cantonese in Saturday school – I hated the class, because I sucked at the language – I did badly. I actually worked hard. With so much effort, I felt like a Goldman Sacs employee on Thursday and Friday nights prior to the class. I sucked nonetheless, darn.

By the end of May, I ran out of options. It was either not submitting this course as a credit (and wasting a whole year of torture) or begging the teacher for a mark boost – I am grateful that TDSB students get this option by taking courses outside of TDSB.

I chose the latter. By that point, I was desperate and the answer was clear.

I contemplated between asking for a 90% or a 95%. A 90% would still hurt my mark, so I asked my teacher to raise my mark for about 11%. I presented my case as a Harvard-wanna-be and an anti-Indiana_Jones in Cantonese person.

The miracle happened in front my eyes. Although my teacher lectured me for 20 minutes, it was so worth it. It was the highest Cantonese mark that I ever got.

The bad thing is that I now expect to beg my teachers to save me if I failed the course.  Fortunately, I understood that I should ask for what I want, because I don’t get what I don’t ASK.

In high school, at one point, I considered a career in research – I wanted to be a botanist/ nuclear physicist. I decided that I needed to live the experience before making a choice. Again, I tossed away my fear for rejection and humiliation once again.

It paid off BIG TIME. Emailing / cold calling the old guys and gals who know more about a subject than I can dream eventually worked out. It turned out that I wasn’t a big fan of taking care of lab animals – it’s like having children, but with one misstep, you will be fired and prosecuted.

Oh yea, I eventually did get kicked off the post, hopefully because September came and that my mentor was considerate of my studies. Nonetheless, I am glad that I asked in the first place.

Life is short. So save yourself some precious time by asking for what you want.

Please help me write a wonderful follow up post by SUBSCRIBING to the INSIDERS NEWSLETTER.