When my wife (then girlfriend) and I were recent college graduates, she got into law school. She should’ve been excited, but she wasn’t. She wanted to work in cooking. She was a great cook but had no professional or educational experience that would help her land a culinary job. Not to mention that cooking jobs paid very little. Like a responsible adult, she planned to go to law school because that’s what she thought she was supposed to do. Like an irresponsible adult, I convinced her to pursue her passion instead. (I’m sure my future in-laws were loving me back then.)
Although the type of job Mia wanted was low- (or no-) paying, it would’ve been extremely difficult to find a restaurant willing to take her on with no experience. Yet, shortly after beginning her search, she landed an apprenticeship at Le Bec Fin, which was considered one of the best restaurants in the country.
How did this happen? Mia shared her goals with everyone she met. It turns out that her grandfather’s neighbor had a cousin who was the White House pastry sous chef. A conversation with her grandfather led to a conversation with his neighbor, which led to a conversation with his cousin. Turns out, the White House chef knew someone at a restaurant in Philadelphia, and that led to Mia’s apprenticeship.
There is one essential way to get people to help you achieve your goals. Whether your goal is huge, like starting a nonprofit to help change people’s lives, or something smaller, like getting more traffic to your blog, most people want to help. What you have to do is share your goal. If you’re not comfortable asking for help, you can mention what you’re trying to do and wait for people to raise their hands. They will.
And tell everyone. Keep in mind that most of your friends know the same people you know. So it’s important to share your goal with strangers you meet (at parties, events, etc.) and with acquaintances who aren’t in the same social circles. Who would’ve predicted that the path to Mia’s apprenticeship in Philadelphia would be through her grandfather’s neighborhood in Washington, DC?
This approach has been helpful to me numerous times. Most recently, I was at a conference and shared over lunch that I was trying to find a publisher for my book. A woman immediately offered to introduce me to her book agent and later emailed me an introduction to a publishing company as well.
When you’re having conversations, and someone asks what’s going on, let them know what you’re trying to accomplish. Most people will want to help, and you never know who can help you achieve your goals.
For a great post about grandfathers, check out: 7 Easy Ways You Can be a Better Person — Advice from Grandpa. This was one of the two most popular posts on this blog.