To start this week, I need to ask for some help from you, dear readers. Partially, because it’s a great example to lead with for this essay, but more because…I actually need help.
Here’s the deal - in 2021 I was able to help a ton of founders through my work at Adamant, including this newsletter. In 2022, I hope to do much more with an assist from you.
If my work has helped you in any way…
To make it as easy as possible, here’s some email copy you can use:
Subject: weekly reading for you
Body: Hey [NAME] - I subscribe to this great newsletter for founders that I think is really insightful. The last post was about the power of asking for help. In it they asked for our help sharing the newsletter with others. No brainer for me to return the favor because I’ve found it super helpful.
It’s written by an ex-VC and former venture-backed founder. Take a look and subscribe: adamant.beehiiv.com - I read it every week.
Okay, wow. That was kinda hard. As a Taiwanese-American kid growing up, I was taught to never inconvenience others. I was expected to always pull my own weight and never be a burden. Those ideals really stuck with me throughout my life and professional career. Even the request for help in the first part of this newsletter would have been unthinkable a few years ago. Up until fairly recently, I believed I had to prove I could do everything on my own.
Because of this background, I rarely asked people for help. When I did, it was only as a last resort if I felt like I had exhausted every other avenue to solve the problem on my own.
I learned from failures how backwards this mindset is. Especially in startups, you don’t get a trophy for solving a problem on your own more slowly. Instead, I think the community rewards those who contribute to the pay-it-forward flywheel of receiving help and helping others.
The only way to get where you want to go quicker is by asking for help. The best entrepreneurs in the world understand that it takes a village.
Learning how and when to ask for help as a founder can be a superpower because of all the places it can be applied in your journey. Where can it be applied? Nearly everywhere, but here are 3 categories that I find particularly important.
There are natural anxieties many people feel when asking for help especially if you have a similar background to mine. You worry that people won’t want to help, that they can’t help, that they’ll be annoyed you asked, or that they don’t have the time.
When you're getting ready to ask for help you need to push these anxieties aside and say, “So what if they’re annoyed?” Realize that you’ll have to go through those people to find the ones who are excited to help.
Additionally, consider the different types of people you can ask for help from. There will be many who you contact that won’t be excited to help. They’ll be too busy or they won’t be able to help. Of those people, the majority are good people and won’t care that you reached out - they understand the game! The ones that do care, those that are annoyed or upset you asked are [how can I say this] … bad people. And who cares about annoying bad people?? (seriously)
Just because I’m pushing HARD on asking for help, doesn’t mean it should be done without care. Bad requests for help can be painfully ineffective. Here are four things I think are really important when asking for help.
Here’s a great example - I really, really appreciate your being open to the request I opened this essay with. I write this newsletter for you all and am excited to add other great founders to the readership with your help.
I'm going to continue to pay you guys back with awesome content and other opportunities for subscribers that I hope helps you with your future fundraises :)