Career Coach: Ask
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.
Erik 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.
Seek 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 friend 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.
Artists 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.