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Career Coach: Ask

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson helps us overcome the fear of asking.

Pamela Kleibrink


"Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." -- Matthew 7:7

Recently at the 2011 Idaho Cineposium, Jerome Courshon, one of the presenters said, "Everything in life is a numbers game. We start out with a no. How do we get to the yes? By asking."

This triggered a memory for me. My mother often relayed the message her mother gave her: "No you have -- yes you might get."

Young children are not afraid to ask for what they want, but as we get older, the fear of asking grows.

Here are a few instances where asking has made all the difference.

ASKErik Kuska lived in Chicago and went to an art gallery to see some work by Disney artists and hear them speak. After the presentation, Erik approached Andreas Deja, one of Disney's "Nine New Men," and got up the nerve to ask Andreas if he would look at Erik's portfolio and give some feedback. Andreas readily consented and Erik showed some of the work he'd be doing for a local commercials production company. Andreas made a few comments and Erik then asked if he could stay in touch. Andreas became Erik's mentor via email. Erik later applied to a Disney training program and was accepted. Erik's first animation job at Disney was as an in-between artist on Hercules helping with the Hades character. Andreas also worked on Hercules as the supervising animator on the adult Hercules.

SEEKSeek the advice and counsel of others. Ask for help when facing a problem. Most successful people have teamed up with others to achieve their goals. Athletes like road racing cyclist Lance Armstrong or basketball player Michael Jordan have coaches to bring out the best in them and uncover their strengths and weaknesses. Artists and businesspeople might have a mentor. Visual effects artists and animators post their questions on forums such as 3D-Pro to ask the advice of experts.

In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill attributes success to a concept he calls the Master Mind: "Coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose." Hill uses Henry Ford, (the Bill Gates of his day) to illustrate his point that success is due in large part to the people you associate with and confide in and seek advice and counsel from. Ford's "most rapid strides became noticeable from the time he became a personal frien

d of Thomas A. Edison." Ford's "most outstanding achievements began from the time that he formed the acquaintances of Harvey Firestone, John Burroughs and Luther Burbank," posits Hill.

In 1546 John Heywood noted, "Two heads are better than one." Ask for help and seek out those who have the knowledge and wisdom you need to succeed.

KNOCKArtists will often tell me that they want to work at Pixar. My first question is: "Have you applied?" Employers and clients can't hire you unless they know you exist. You have to knock on their door and promote your services to them. Knock--and it will be opened to you. Let yourself be known. Artists send in demo reels to companies they want to work for. Writers submit scripts or screenplays to shows they want to write for.

You have to market yourself. I market myself to schools as a speaker and presenter of my Career Strategies Workshop. Last June I was the commencement speaker at Art Institute of Tampa and this past January I presented my Career Strategies Workshop at Ringling College of Art and Design and the DAVE School in Florida. This came about because I knocked on their door (a number of times!) -- I made myself known to them. You have to create your own opportunities.

As a recruiter, I market myself to companies and describe how I work differently from other recruiters. Recently I recruited for the Embassy Visual Effects in Vancouver because I knocked on their door (via email).

So, you have sought out a company, knocked on their door and received an interview. If you know you want to work for that company, let them know. Ask for the job. An employer will not know that you want the job unless you ask for it, even if you have interviewed for it. Tell the employer why you would like to work for him/her. For example, "I'd really love to work at Disney and have dreamed about this ever since I saw The Lion King. Your recent film The Princess and the Frog had several scenes which gave visual homage to other titles in Disney's heritage such as The Little Mermaid and Jungle Book."

Don't be shy about being sincere and genuine. If you are a fan of the company and its product, state openly and enthusiastically you'd like to work there.

Asking can be a powerful tool to get what you really desire. Try it.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a recruiter, career coach, writer and speaker and is learning to ask for help. She appreciates the wisdom her mom shared with her about asking. She's traveling with her mom to Omaha at the end of April to see Warren Buffet speak at the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder's meeting. She asked her mom if she could go. You can reach her at