Having lived largely by the seat of my pants for 38 years, I have discovered a variety of survival instincts. One of the most important is the ability to ask for help in business when needed.
As guys, we’re generally taught machismo and the importance of always showing strength. In business, this often means talking in glowing terms when asked about how everything is progressing—and not admitting mistakes, missteps or misgivings. In other words, cast a brave countenance—even when it’s fiction.
In some ways, COVID-19 has opened up a silver lining. In both life and livelihood, people seem more willing to admit frailty and ask for help—given that many need it. We share a common bond of being traumatized by this deadly disease.
Perhaps this can open the door long-term to being more open, honest and willing to ask for help when needed—which in some cases requires admitting “weakness” (a/k/a vulnerability).
I actually learned that it’s okay to ask for help from my father, Sam Lusky, a longtime prominent journalist, advertising/PR powerhouse and consistent curmudgeon. While he projected a public “tough guy” image, he possessed a sensitive side hidden to many.
As a reporter and later city editor of The Rocky Mountain News, he broke a number of major stories. His secret to getting critical information from key sources: Asking for help. While he could certainly be strident, he also knew the value of encouraging cooperation. So, he would make an ally out of someone who otherwise likely would have remained silent or stubbornly uncooperative.
Asking for help has definitely been a major contributor to staying in business all these years. In some cases, such as a traumatic divorce 12 years ago, I asked clients to confirm their continuing support—so that I could chart predictable income through a rocky period. They all stepped up to the plate.
And, I’ve asked frequently for God’s guidance. I call it following the path, and it has stood me in good stead over the last several decades.
Then, there’s the omnipresent help of friends and my sole blood family connection, my cousin Liz. They have been my rock, attentive listeners and where requested, spot-on advisors through both life and livelihood challenges.
For personal growth and health, I’ve asked for meaningful help throughout my life. This has resulted in finding advisors who work with me as a helping team—a partnership versus a dictatorship. To me, this should be the essence of a true, productive heart, mind, and body improvement plan.
It’s also okay to ask to help
I advocate carrying over this helping spirit to business development—having long preferred to enroll rather than sell a prospect. “How can I help?” is the query of the day. They have a need; I determine if/how I can fill it. They have a problem; I suggest solutions as appropriate.
As a rule, if I don’t feel I can help, I’ll steer them to somebody who can.
Hopefully, one of the most endearing and enduring lessons coming out of the pandemic will be to ask for help and offer to give it when needed. For those who embrace this, the world truly will become a better place.
As I celebrate 38 years in business this September, I’m recalling lessons learned and how those lessons will impact the future. In late August 1982, I asked my boss to become my first client. I had a dog, mortgage and $600 in the bank. With his thumbs-up, a marketing education gained with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and a creative, persevering brain (thanks dad, mom and stepmom Lois), I went to the mountains the next day and sat on a lounge chair in a river reading and drinking a six-pack. The following Monday, I started Mark Lusky Communications with a commitment to provide solid customer service and high-quality writing and marketing communications.
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Mark Lusky (aka The Happy Curmudgeon)
is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm. He’s a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience, and author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage.