Throughout high school and the early years of my undergraduate career, in particular with the recent launch of my book’s pre-sale campaign, I have realized one thing: People are willing to help you, oftentimes expecting nothing more than a smile and a grateful “thank you”.
A lot of the experiences that I’ve had has taught me this, and I decided that it was time to sit down and put them all into words, as I felt that it was the least I could do.
From grades 10 to 12, I was actively involved in a lot of clubs, both inside and outside of school. For a few of the clubs, I took on a big sponsorship role, which essentially involved having to “beg” local mom-and-pop stores and local company chain stores for monetary donations or in-kind donations, and in return, we would promote their business within our ecosystem and basically shower them with all the affection we could. This wasn’t easy. It’s never easy to go to up to somebody you don’t know, ask for their hard-earned money or products, and not even offer them guaranteed business in return. After all, we were doing our promotion of these businesses to high school students. That didn’t always translate into 100% guaranteed business.
I got a lot of “no’s” unsurprisingly. They would say business wasn’t great, money was tight, or that they got a lot of requests throughout the year. These were all understandable, and I wasn’t surprised to hear them. What did surprise me was that there were always a few key players who would say yes, all because they wanted to support the local youth councils and teams in the area. They’d hear my voice, listen to my story, and then say, “Okay, how can I help?” People would hand over gift cards to raffle away, cash donations, and prizes of all sorts — goodie bags, candy, a GUITAR (this one really shocked me) We’d get gift cards from Longo’s, Shopper’s Drug Mart, Bulk Bar, No Frills, you name it, all so that we could purchase the things we needed for our event and cover our expenses. I had two local printing stores offer their printing services to me whenever I needed them, mostly to print posters and banners for each event. “It’s our pleasure” they would always say, as they would accept a request to print something, no questions asked.
Even as I became more experienced with the art of sponsorship, I often found it intimidating to not only ask for help but also accept it. The same dialogue would always run through my head. What if I’m being bothersome? What if they’re just too nice to say no? What if I’m being annoying? But eventually, I realized that they genuinely wanted to help me. They genuinely wanted to show their support. And the more I saw this, the more the dialogue faded.
And so I let them help.
I accepted every yes and every time I did so, I was not only humbled, but also extremely touched by the kindness that so many people were showing me. In all these cases, I tried my best to express my gratitude in a multitude of ways. Although our club couldn’t offer much, I always followed through with the promise of business promotion, kind shout-outs at our events, and offering profuse thank you’s. Maybe they didn’t really care about what we had in return, but I still never wanted to just take what they had to give and leave.
Sponsorships and clubs aside, I was also surrounded by teachers and mentors in my community who wanted to support me and help me. And so, I also let them help. I said “yes” to people that they wanted to connect me to. I said “yes” to pieces of advice they wanted to share and I said “yes” to time they were willing to spend with me to help me on something. I have been so lucky to have been surrounded by and introduced to so many kind people who have been so helpful and supportive and it is true when I say that I wouldn’t be who I am without some of them, and I wouldn’t be where I am without others. The same rings true if I hadn’t even accepted their offer in the first place.
Now, as many of you may know, for the past 7 months or so, I have been working on writing my own book titled Learning to Learn as part of a greater project that was started by Professor Eric Koester at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Part of the book writing process involved reaching out to people I wanted to interview on the topic of the book and asking them for 30 minutes of their time to sit down with me (in person or on the phone) and chat. I reached out to people I knew and people who I have never spoken to, either through LinkedIn or email, and would wait for their response. For both groups of people, the dialogue of doubt would come back. What if they don’t have time? What if they’re not interested? What if they think I’m being too troublesome? But in the end, for all of the responses that came back, they all went something along the lines of, “Of course. Pick a time.” They all wanted to share their ideas, share their opinions, and hear more about the project. As one example, I had reached out to Amanda Lang, a business journalist for BNN Bloomberg, on a whim and had cold emailed her, not really expecting a reply back. To my surprise, she emails back agreeing to my request to chat, and asks to set up a time.
Ask for help, and then accept it when it comes.
Recently, the book’s pre-sale campaign has been launched by the publisher, New Degree Press. Before and after the campaign, I was hesitant to do promotion for it and directly message people. I didn’t know what people would think. Would they want to help me? Would anybody even buy a copy? What would they say? But I have been so impressed by the early support the book and this project that I’ve been working on has garnered. I’ve had old bosses, old high school friends, family, family friends, and close friends offer to buy a copy or share it with their network. The support has been truly overwhelming.
And so, I wanted to write up this post to remind everybody that in life, no man (or woman) is an island. Be open to asking for and accepting help, and saying (many) thank yous when they are due. I have gotten so lucky in these past few crucial years of my life to have been lifted up by all these different individuals who were so kind as to reach over and give me their hand to grab onto. Going forward, I will be sure to always keep this same mentality in the back of my mind, do the same for others who ask, and constantly pay it forward.
If you are interested in supporting the book campaign (which will end in less than 3 weeks), you can find more information here: https://igg.me/at/juliasun/x/22126823#/