#142 - How to Ask for Advice (the Right Way)

July 13, 2022

We all need advice from time to time, but so many of us tend to ask for it in such a lazy and unproductive way. So in this episode, I'm gonna teach you the right way to ask for advice.

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[00:00:00] We all need advice from time to time, but so many of us tend to ask for it in such a lazy and unproductive way. So in this episode, I'm going to teach you the right way to ask for advice. Alright, so there are four crucial things that you must do before you ask anyone for help or advice. These things are even more important than actually asking for the advice. I mean, you can't even ask for advice correctly until you've done the following four things. Number one, you need to know exactly what it is that you want and you need to be as specific as possible. Right? Because there's a difference between saying, "I want food" and "I want a double cheeseburger with extra onions, no pickles, and no ketchup, with french fries on the side and a large Coke with no ice."

[00:00:50] There's a difference between those two things. So when you say those two things to someone, you're going to get two different responses. And the more specific you are about what you want, the higher the chance you actually get it, right? So you have to be specific and you have to know exactly what you want. Step two, reverse engineer your goal. Now, when I say that, when I say "reverse engineer", what I mean is start with the end goal in mind, right? Discover exactly what you want in a perfect world, what would happen, and once you know that, once you have your goal, walk backwards until you reach your starting point.

[00:01:25] This is one of the most effective ways to figure out where you should start when trying to achieve a goal or start a new project or whatever it is. Start with the end in mind and work backwards, right? So let's say you're trying to run a media company, but you can't make all the videos yourself. But that is your goal. That's exactly what you want - to produce videos. Well, if that's my goal, what has to happen before I can produce these videos? I need to hire a team. Okay. For that to happen, what do I need to do first? I guess I need to find talented individuals. Okay. For that to happen, what do I need to do first? I guess I need to create a job posting so that they know the position is available.

[00:02:06] Right, okay. For that to happen, what do I need to do first? I need to figure out which job sites I can post on to find these individuals. Okay. For that to happen, what I need to do fir... You see what I'm saying? So eventually you get to the point where you know where you need to start. I need to write a job description, find a job posting website, post the job, and find the individuals. Only then can I build a team and start producing videos. Hopefully, that simple example makes sense. You start with the end in mind. Just go back, back, back, back until you reach where you are right now and then you know where to start.

[00:02:37] Okay, so number one, know what you want. Number two, reverse engineer your goal. Step number three, ask yourself, "what should I do?" "How should I do it?" This is extremely important. Before you go ask somebody else for advice, ask yourself for advice. And there are many reasons you should do this. The main reason is because many times, if you just ask yourself for the question to the answer that you have, the answer is inside waiting. It's just sitting there waiting for you. But you have to ask if you hope to receive. Every time you ask, you're gonna receive it. Just believe that.

[00:03:13] So you have to ask yourself first. Another important thing is that when you're constantly running to other people for advice or their opinion or asking them what you should do, you're constantly teaching yourself that you cannot be relied on. You're teaching yourself that you cannot depend on yourself. That's why you're always running to other people for advice or opinions or instructions or something like that. So when you ask yourself first, you acknowledge the fact that you are capable of solving your own problems or at least trying to solve them. You see what I'm saying? And you might just find the answer sitting in there waiting. So always ask yourself first what you think you should do.

[00:03:51] And a lot of times people might do that, "okay, well, what should I do, self? What should I do?" And nothing comes to mind, right? I understand that. But the point is, always ask yourself first. Think for yourself first. And once you realize "I genuinely don't know, I have no idea", then go to somebody else and ask for advice. But before you do that, we go to step number four. The final step is try that shit. Right? Know... Identify exactly what you want. Reverse engineer the goal. Ask yourself how you should go about achieving that goal and taking those steps and then try it. Just try it and see what happens.

[00:04:28] You have to experiment if you hope to learn, right? You got to fuck up to learn the lesson. You can't learn without making the mistakes; you can't learn without trying or experimenting. So ask yourself what you should do and then try that shit. Only after having completed these four steps, may you ask someone else for advice. And now let me teach you the right way to ask for that advice. Step number one. Step number one is actually not obligatory. You don't have to do this. This is just something that I like to do. And that step is to acknowledge your ignorance and their expertise. When I say their expertise, I'm talking about the person you're asking for advice from. You see what I'm saying? Acknowledge your ignorance and their expertise.

[00:05:12] Right? Acknowledge the fact that you don't know what you need to know. And you're coming to them because you believe that they can help you. So it's like, "Man, listen, I don't have any experience in this area. I'm not sure if this is something you would know, but I really look up to you. I know you have experience in this field, so hopefully you can use your experience and expertise to give me some advice on this thing. I really don't know much about it, and that's why I'm asking you, because I feel like you are much more of an expert than me." Alright.

[00:05:39] Just communicating that from the very beginning kind of sets the stage. You're acknowledging that you don't know shit because if you did, you wouldn't be asking questions. You're also acknowledging that you respect and value their perspective or their opinion or their experience. And people love to be flattered, right? I mean, it feels good when somebody says, "I feel like you're an expert in this and I value your opinion so much that I'm coming to you for advice about this." That's a good thing. I like to do it, but you don't have to.

[00:06:04] Okay, step number two, describe the situation or state the problem clearly and concisely. Okay? Don't talk for 20 minutes about your problem without ever asking for advice, but also don't talk for 2 seconds without giving context and information, right? Don't just say "I want food." You say "I want a double cheeseburger, extra onions, no ketchup, no pickles. Medium fries, large coke." And obviously I'm not talking about just food, but hopefully you can see the difference between those two ways of describing a problem or a situation. So describe it clearly and concisely; give context.

[00:06:40] Okay, step number three, explain what you have tried in order to solve your problem. Right? It's so frustrating when somebody comes to me for advice, and not only do they not clearly explain the situation and what they want to happen, but then we find out that they haven't even tried to solve their own problem yet. They're just trying to go to somebody else and say, "Hey, solve my problem for me." This is not the right way to ask for advice. You need to explain, first of all, what the problem is clearly, what you want to happen, and what you have tried, and why you think it's not working. Okay, so that's step three.

[00:07:18] Step four, ask what they would do if they were in your position. Because you need to remember that there's a difference between advice and instructions. Just because you go to somebody for advice and they give you some advice doesn't mean that that's what you should do. That's what they would do if they were in your position. And there's a huge difference between those two things, right? Because if you're constantly asking people what you should do and just doing what other people tell you all the time without thinking for yourself, there's no guarantee that you won't end up in a worse position.

[00:07:48] Right? Because if you didn't explain the situation clearly enough, give them enough context, and they give you advice anyway, and you take that advice. Now you're taking advice that was given based on, let's call it "vague context", based on something...the response is based on...like a...an incomplete explanation of the problem. Hopefully that makes sense. So ask them what they would do if they were you. Now, I want to keep this episode as short as possible, so I'm going to give you a real-world example that happened just a couple of days ago.

[00:08:20] I was trying to upload a video to my YouTube channel. It was like 49 minutes long or something like that. It was a pretty big video. So I'm trying to upload it and three times in a row, I tried to upload the video and it gets stuck on 82% uploaded. Just stuck for hours. It won't move. And I'm like, "Man, what the fuck is going on?" Right? So I try on Chrome; I try on Safari. Nothing's working. Nothing's working. And I know just a little bit about web development, software engineering, and things like that. And I have a few developer friends, so I know just enough to have something like an intelligent conversation with developers.

[00:09:00] And one of my good friends, Daniel Perez, shout-out to you, man! I sent him a message because I know he's a frontend developer and I'm actually going to read you the message I sent him that involves all the four steps of asking for advice that I just explained to you. So I'm pulling up the message now, give me a second. Alright, here we go. Here's the message I sent to him. "What's up, bro? I don't know if this is something a frontend developer would know, but I've tried to upload the same YouTube video three times now and it gets stuck at 82% every time. I restarted my computer, cleared my cache, I've tried on Chrome and Safari, and nothing works. Do you know what might be causing this? None of the YouTube videos I've watched have suggested anything effective."

[00:09:44] That's how you ask for advice. You understand? I told him what I'm trying to accomplish. Upload the video. Right? I told him what I tried to solve the problem. I tried this, this, and that, and nothing works. Now, do you know what might be causing this? What would you do if you were me? I've looked at different videos, fucking forums, blog articles. Nothing is working. Do you know what might be causing this problem? That's how you ask. Now he has context and he knows what I'm trying to do so he can better help me solve my problem. So we go back and forth. We actually had a conversation about this. We're troubleshooting, trying to discover what the problem is, and he's given me recommendations and things like that.

[00:10:24] And eventually, I do solve the problem. But the point is, if I would have come to him and just said, "Hey, developer, I'm trying to upload this video and it keeps getting stuck, what should I do?" What is he supposed to do with that information? There are so many questions he could ask to try to discover what the right thing to do would be. Right? There's so many factors, so many details. But if I clearly and concisely explain to him what I'm trying to achieve, what I tried and did not work, and what I want from him, which is just advice on what I should do next or what might be causing this, now, he can answer my question directly and quickly. I'm not making him do any of the work. I'm not making him pull information out of me so that he can help me with my problem.

[00:11:08] When you're going to ask somebody for help, help them help you. You don't make them do all the work, right? You have to make it easy for them to say yes. You have to make it easy for them to share their expertise or their perspective or their knowledge with you. And you do that by what? Number one, knowing exactly what you want. Number two, reverse engineering your own goal. Number three, asking yourself what you should do and how you should do it. Number four, trying that shit.

[00:11:36] And if it doesn't work, then you move on to the next four steps. You acknowledge your ignorance and their expertise, right? Number two, you describe the situation clearly and concisely. Don't waste people's time. Number three, you explain what you did to try to solve your own problem. And number four, you ask what they would do if they were you. If you apply this simple method of asking for advice, I guarantee that people will not only be happier to give you advice or help or answer your questions, but you'll get better advice and better answers to your questions. Alright?

[00:12:11] I'm by no means a communications expert, an advice expert, or nothing like that, but this is just from years of talking to people every single day. Years of teaching English online and people asking the same kinds of questions in the same ways. Years of trying to figure out how to do or achieve certain goals in my own life, and having to ask other people for advice and find answers to questions. This is all based on my personal experience. So this is not like the law. This is not fact. This is just my opinion and my perspective on what I think is the right way to ask for advice.

[END OF EPISODE]

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[00:00:00] We all need advice from time to time, but so many of us tend to ask for it in such a lazy and unproductive way. So in this episode, I'm going to teach you the right way to ask for advice. Alright, so there are four crucial things that you must do before you ask anyone for help or advice. These things are even more important than actually asking for the advice. I mean, you can't even ask for advice correctly until you've done the following four things. Number one, you need to know exactly what it is that you want and you need to be as specific as possible. Right? Because there's a difference between saying, "I want food" and "I want a double cheeseburger with extra onions, no pickles, and no ketchup, with french fries on the side and a large Coke with no ice."

[00:00:50] There's a difference between those two things. So when you say those two things to someone, you're going to get two different responses. And the more specific you are about what you want, the higher the chance you actually get it, right? So you have to be specific and you have to know exactly what you want. Step two, reverse engineer your goal. Now, when I say that, when I say "reverse engineer", what I mean is start with the end goal in mind, right? Discover exactly what you want in a perfect world, what would happen, and once you know that, once you have your goal, walk backwards until you reach your starting point.

[00:01:25] This is one of the most effective ways to figure out where you should start when trying to achieve a goal or start a new project or whatever it is. Start with the end in mind and work backwards, right? So let's say you're trying to run a media company, but you can't make all the videos yourself. But that is your goal. That's exactly what you want - to produce videos. Well, if that's my goal, what has to happen before I can produce these videos? I need to hire a team. Okay. For that to happen, what do I need to do first? I guess I need to find talented individuals. Okay. For that to happen, what do I need to do first? I guess I need to create a job posting so that they know the position is available.

[00:02:06] Right, okay. For that to happen, what do I need to do first? I need to figure out which job sites I can post on to find these individuals. Okay. For that to happen, what I need to do fir... You see what I'm saying? So eventually you get to the point where you know where you need to start. I need to write a job description, find a job posting website, post the job, and find the individuals. Only then can I build a team and start producing videos. Hopefully, that simple example makes sense. You start with the end in mind. Just go back, back, back, back until you reach where you are right now and then you know where to start.

[00:02:37] Okay, so number one, know what you want. Number two, reverse engineer your goal. Step number three, ask yourself, "what should I do?" "How should I do it?" This is extremely important. Before you go ask somebody else for advice, ask yourself for advice. And there are many reasons you should do this. The main reason is because many times, if you just ask yourself for the question to the answer that you have, the answer is inside waiting. It's just sitting there waiting for you. But you have to ask if you hope to receive. Every time you ask, you're gonna receive it. Just believe that.

[00:03:13] So you have to ask yourself first. Another important thing is that when you're constantly running to other people for advice or their opinion or asking them what you should do, you're constantly teaching yourself that you cannot be relied on. You're teaching yourself that you cannot depend on yourself. That's why you're always running to other people for advice or opinions or instructions or something like that. So when you ask yourself first, you acknowledge the fact that you are capable of solving your own problems or at least trying to solve them. You see what I'm saying? And you might just find the answer sitting in there waiting. So always ask yourself first what you think you should do.

[00:03:51] And a lot of times people might do that, "okay, well, what should I do, self? What should I do?" And nothing comes to mind, right? I understand that. But the point is, always ask yourself first. Think for yourself first. And once you realize "I genuinely don't know, I have no idea", then go to somebody else and ask for advice. But before you do that, we go to step number four. The final step is try that shit. Right? Know... Identify exactly what you want. Reverse engineer the goal. Ask yourself how you should go about achieving that goal and taking those steps and then try it. Just try it and see what happens.

[00:04:28] You have to experiment if you hope to learn, right? You got to fuck up to learn the lesson. You can't learn without making the mistakes; you can't learn without trying or experimenting. So ask yourself what you should do and then try that shit. Only after having completed these four steps, may you ask someone else for advice. And now let me teach you the right way to ask for that advice. Step number one. Step number one is actually not obligatory. You don't have to do this. This is just something that I like to do. And that step is to acknowledge your ignorance and their expertise. When I say their expertise, I'm talking about the person you're asking for advice from. You see what I'm saying? Acknowledge your ignorance and their expertise.

[00:05:12] Right? Acknowledge the fact that you don't know what you need to know. And you're coming to them because you believe that they can help you. So it's like, "Man, listen, I don't have any experience in this area. I'm not sure if this is something you would know, but I really look up to you. I know you have experience in this field, so hopefully you can use your experience and expertise to give me some advice on this thing. I really don't know much about it, and that's why I'm asking you, because I feel like you are much more of an expert than me." Alright.

[00:05:39] Just communicating that from the very beginning kind of sets the stage. You're acknowledging that you don't know shit because if you did, you wouldn't be asking questions. You're also acknowledging that you respect and value their perspective or their opinion or their experience. And people love to be flattered, right? I mean, it feels good when somebody says, "I feel like you're an expert in this and I value your opinion so much that I'm coming to you for advice about this." That's a good thing. I like to do it, but you don't have to.

[00:06:04] Okay, step number two, describe the situation or state the problem clearly and concisely. Okay? Don't talk for 20 minutes about your problem without ever asking for advice, but also don't talk for 2 seconds without giving context and information, right? Don't just say "I want food." You say "I want a double cheeseburger, extra onions, no ketchup, no pickles. Medium fries, large coke." And obviously I'm not talking about just food, but hopefully you can see the difference between those two ways of describing a problem or a situation. So describe it clearly and concisely; give context.

[00:06:40] Okay, step number three, explain what you have tried in order to solve your problem. Right? It's so frustrating when somebody comes to me for advice, and not only do they not clearly explain the situation and what they want to happen, but then we find out that they haven't even tried to solve their own problem yet. They're just trying to go to somebody else and say, "Hey, solve my problem for me." This is not the right way to ask for advice. You need to explain, first of all, what the problem is clearly, what you want to happen, and what you have tried, and why you think it's not working. Okay, so that's step three.

[00:07:18] Step four, ask what they would do if they were in your position. Because you need to remember that there's a difference between advice and instructions. Just because you go to somebody for advice and they give you some advice doesn't mean that that's what you should do. That's what they would do if they were in your position. And there's a huge difference between those two things, right? Because if you're constantly asking people what you should do and just doing what other people tell you all the time without thinking for yourself, there's no guarantee that you won't end up in a worse position.

[00:07:48] Right? Because if you didn't explain the situation clearly enough, give them enough context, and they give you advice anyway, and you take that advice. Now you're taking advice that was given based on, let's call it "vague context", based on something...the response is based on...like a...an incomplete explanation of the problem. Hopefully that makes sense. So ask them what they would do if they were you. Now, I want to keep this episode as short as possible, so I'm going to give you a real-world example that happened just a couple of days ago.

[00:08:20] I was trying to upload a video to my YouTube channel. It was like 49 minutes long or something like that. It was a pretty big video. So I'm trying to upload it and three times in a row, I tried to upload the video and it gets stuck on 82% uploaded. Just stuck for hours. It won't move. And I'm like, "Man, what the fuck is going on?" Right? So I try on Chrome; I try on Safari. Nothing's working. Nothing's working. And I know just a little bit about web development, software engineering, and things like that. And I have a few developer friends, so I know just enough to have something like an intelligent conversation with developers.

[00:09:00] And one of my good friends, Daniel Perez, shout-out to you, man! I sent him a message because I know he's a frontend developer and I'm actually going to read you the message I sent him that involves all the four steps of asking for advice that I just explained to you. So I'm pulling up the message now, give me a second. Alright, here we go. Here's the message I sent to him. "What's up, bro? I don't know if this is something a frontend developer would know, but I've tried to upload the same YouTube video three times now and it gets stuck at 82% every time. I restarted my computer, cleared my cache, I've tried on Chrome and Safari, and nothing works. Do you know what might be causing this? None of the YouTube videos I've watched have suggested anything effective."

[00:09:44] That's how you ask for advice. You understand? I told him what I'm trying to accomplish. Upload the video. Right? I told him what I tried to solve the problem. I tried this, this, and that, and nothing works. Now, do you know what might be causing this? What would you do if you were me? I've looked at different videos, fucking forums, blog articles. Nothing is working. Do you know what might be causing this problem? That's how you ask. Now he has context and he knows what I'm trying to do so he can better help me solve my problem. So we go back and forth. We actually had a conversation about this. We're troubleshooting, trying to discover what the problem is, and he's given me recommendations and things like that.

[00:10:24] And eventually, I do solve the problem. But the point is, if I would have come to him and just said, "Hey, developer, I'm trying to upload this video and it keeps getting stuck, what should I do?" What is he supposed to do with that information? There are so many questions he could ask to try to discover what the right thing to do would be. Right? There's so many factors, so many details. But if I clearly and concisely explain to him what I'm trying to achieve, what I tried and did not work, and what I want from him, which is just advice on what I should do next or what might be causing this, now, he can answer my question directly and quickly. I'm not making him do any of the work. I'm not making him pull information out of me so that he can help me with my problem.

[00:11:08] When you're going to ask somebody for help, help them help you. You don't make them do all the work, right? You have to make it easy for them to say yes. You have to make it easy for them to share their expertise or their perspective or their knowledge with you. And you do that by what? Number one, knowing exactly what you want. Number two, reverse engineering your own goal. Number three, asking yourself what you should do and how you should do it. Number four, trying that shit.

[00:11:36] And if it doesn't work, then you move on to the next four steps. You acknowledge your ignorance and their expertise, right? Number two, you describe the situation clearly and concisely. Don't waste people's time. Number three, you explain what you did to try to solve your own problem. And number four, you ask what they would do if they were you. If you apply this simple method of asking for advice, I guarantee that people will not only be happier to give you advice or help or answer your questions, but you'll get better advice and better answers to your questions. Alright?

[00:12:11] I'm by no means a communications expert, an advice expert, or nothing like that, but this is just from years of talking to people every single day. Years of teaching English online and people asking the same kinds of questions in the same ways. Years of trying to figure out how to do or achieve certain goals in my own life, and having to ask other people for advice and find answers to questions. This is all based on my personal experience. So this is not like the law. This is not fact. This is just my opinion and my perspective on what I think is the right way to ask for advice.

[END OF EPISODE]

Writing prompts

  • Who do you normally call when you need some advice? Why do you call them?
  • What's the best advice you've ever received?
  • Do you find yourself asking for, or giving more advice? Why?
  • Talk about a time when you regretted asking for advice.
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Key Vocabulary Guide

Transcript

[00:00:00] We all need advice from time to time, but so many of us tend to ask for it in such a lazy and unproductive way. So in this episode, I'm going to teach you the right way to ask for advice. Alright, so there are four crucial things that you must do before you ask anyone for help or advice. These things are even more important than actually asking for the advice. I mean, you can't even ask for advice correctly until you've done the following four things. Number one, you need to know exactly what it is that you want and you need to be as specific as possible. Right? Because there's a difference between saying, "I want food" and "I want a double cheeseburger with extra onions, no pickles, and no ketchup, with french fries on the side and a large Coke with no ice."

[00:00:50] There's a difference between those two things. So when you say those two things to someone, you're going to get two different responses. And the more specific you are about what you want, the higher the chance you actually get it, right? So you have to be specific and you have to know exactly what you want. Step two, reverse engineer your goal. Now, when I say that, when I say "reverse engineer", what I mean is start with the end goal in mind, right? Discover exactly what you want in a perfect world, what would happen, and once you know that, once you have your goal, walk backwards until you reach your starting point.

[00:01:25] This is one of the most effective ways to figure out where you should start when trying to achieve a goal or start a new project or whatever it is. Start with the end in mind and work backwards, right? So let's say you're trying to run a media company, but you can't make all the videos yourself. But that is your goal. That's exactly what you want - to produce videos. Well, if that's my goal, what has to happen before I can produce these videos? I need to hire a team. Okay. For that to happen, what do I need to do first? I guess I need to find talented individuals. Okay. For that to happen, what do I need to do first? I guess I need to create a job posting so that they know the position is available.

[00:02:06] Right, okay. For that to happen, what do I need to do first? I need to figure out which job sites I can post on to find these individuals. Okay. For that to happen, what I need to do fir... You see what I'm saying? So eventually you get to the point where you know where you need to start. I need to write a job description, find a job posting website, post the job, and find the individuals. Only then can I build a team and start producing videos. Hopefully, that simple example makes sense. You start with the end in mind. Just go back, back, back, back until you reach where you are right now and then you know where to start.

[00:02:37] Okay, so number one, know what you want. Number two, reverse engineer your goal. Step number three, ask yourself, "what should I do?" "How should I do it?" This is extremely important. Before you go ask somebody else for advice, ask yourself for advice. And there are many reasons you should do this. The main reason is because many times, if you just ask yourself for the question to the answer that you have, the answer is inside waiting. It's just sitting there waiting for you. But you have to ask if you hope to receive. Every time you ask, you're gonna receive it. Just believe that.

[00:03:13] So you have to ask yourself first. Another important thing is that when you're constantly running to other people for advice or their opinion or asking them what you should do, you're constantly teaching yourself that you cannot be relied on. You're teaching yourself that you cannot depend on yourself. That's why you're always running to other people for advice or opinions or instructions or something like that. So when you ask yourself first, you acknowledge the fact that you are capable of solving your own problems or at least trying to solve them. You see what I'm saying? And you might just find the answer sitting in there waiting. So always ask yourself first what you think you should do.

[00:03:51] And a lot of times people might do that, "okay, well, what should I do, self? What should I do?" And nothing comes to mind, right? I understand that. But the point is, always ask yourself first. Think for yourself first. And once you realize "I genuinely don't know, I have no idea", then go to somebody else and ask for advice. But before you do that, we go to step number four. The final step is try that shit. Right? Know... Identify exactly what you want. Reverse engineer the goal. Ask yourself how you should go about achieving that goal and taking those steps and then try it. Just try it and see what happens.

[00:04:28] You have to experiment if you hope to learn, right? You got to fuck up to learn the lesson. You can't learn without making the mistakes; you can't learn without trying or experimenting. So ask yourself what you should do and then try that shit. Only after having completed these four steps, may you ask someone else for advice. And now let me teach you the right way to ask for that advice. Step number one. Step number one is actually not obligatory. You don't have to do this. This is just something that I like to do. And that step is to acknowledge your ignorance and their expertise. When I say their expertise, I'm talking about the person you're asking for advice from. You see what I'm saying? Acknowledge your ignorance and their expertise.

[00:05:12] Right? Acknowledge the fact that you don't know what you need to know. And you're coming to them because you believe that they can help you. So it's like, "Man, listen, I don't have any experience in this area. I'm not sure if this is something you would know, but I really look up to you. I know you have experience in this field, so hopefully you can use your experience and expertise to give me some advice on this thing. I really don't know much about it, and that's why I'm asking you, because I feel like you are much more of an expert than me." Alright.

[00:05:39] Just communicating that from the very beginning kind of sets the stage. You're acknowledging that you don't know shit because if you did, you wouldn't be asking questions. You're also acknowledging that you respect and value their perspective or their opinion or their experience. And people love to be flattered, right? I mean, it feels good when somebody says, "I feel like you're an expert in this and I value your opinion so much that I'm coming to you for advice about this." That's a good thing. I like to do it, but you don't have to.

[00:06:04] Okay, step number two, describe the situation or state the problem clearly and concisely. Okay? Don't talk for 20 minutes about your problem without ever asking for advice, but also don't talk for 2 seconds without giving context and information, right? Don't just say "I want food." You say "I want a double cheeseburger, extra onions, no ketchup, no pickles. Medium fries, large coke." And obviously I'm not talking about just food, but hopefully you can see the difference between those two ways of describing a problem or a situation. So describe it clearly and concisely; give context.

[00:06:40] Okay, step number three, explain what you have tried in order to solve your problem. Right? It's so frustrating when somebody comes to me for advice, and not only do they not clearly explain the situation and what they want to happen, but then we find out that they haven't even tried to solve their own problem yet. They're just trying to go to somebody else and say, "Hey, solve my problem for me." This is not the right way to ask for advice. You need to explain, first of all, what the problem is clearly, what you want to happen, and what you have tried, and why you think it's not working. Okay, so that's step three.

[00:07:18] Step four, ask what they would do if they were in your position. Because you need to remember that there's a difference between advice and instructions. Just because you go to somebody for advice and they give you some advice doesn't mean that that's what you should do. That's what they would do if they were in your position. And there's a huge difference between those two things, right? Because if you're constantly asking people what you should do and just doing what other people tell you all the time without thinking for yourself, there's no guarantee that you won't end up in a worse position.

[00:07:48] Right? Because if you didn't explain the situation clearly enough, give them enough context, and they give you advice anyway, and you take that advice. Now you're taking advice that was given based on, let's call it "vague context", based on something...the response is based on...like a...an incomplete explanation of the problem. Hopefully that makes sense. So ask them what they would do if they were you. Now, I want to keep this episode as short as possible, so I'm going to give you a real-world example that happened just a couple of days ago.

[00:08:20] I was trying to upload a video to my YouTube channel. It was like 49 minutes long or something like that. It was a pretty big video. So I'm trying to upload it and three times in a row, I tried to upload the video and it gets stuck on 82% uploaded. Just stuck for hours. It won't move. And I'm like, "Man, what the fuck is going on?" Right? So I try on Chrome; I try on Safari. Nothing's working. Nothing's working. And I know just a little bit about web development, software engineering, and things like that. And I have a few developer friends, so I know just enough to have something like an intelligent conversation with developers.

[00:09:00] And one of my good friends, Daniel Perez, shout-out to you, man! I sent him a message because I know he's a frontend developer and I'm actually going to read you the message I sent him that involves all the four steps of asking for advice that I just explained to you. So I'm pulling up the message now, give me a second. Alright, here we go. Here's the message I sent to him. "What's up, bro? I don't know if this is something a frontend developer would know, but I've tried to upload the same YouTube video three times now and it gets stuck at 82% every time. I restarted my computer, cleared my cache, I've tried on Chrome and Safari, and nothing works. Do you know what might be causing this? None of the YouTube videos I've watched have suggested anything effective."

[00:09:44] That's how you ask for advice. You understand? I told him what I'm trying to accomplish. Upload the video. Right? I told him what I tried to solve the problem. I tried this, this, and that, and nothing works. Now, do you know what might be causing this? What would you do if you were me? I've looked at different videos, fucking forums, blog articles. Nothing is working. Do you know what might be causing this problem? That's how you ask. Now he has context and he knows what I'm trying to do so he can better help me solve my problem. So we go back and forth. We actually had a conversation about this. We're troubleshooting, trying to discover what the problem is, and he's given me recommendations and things like that.

[00:10:24] And eventually, I do solve the problem. But the point is, if I would have come to him and just said, "Hey, developer, I'm trying to upload this video and it keeps getting stuck, what should I do?" What is he supposed to do with that information? There are so many questions he could ask to try to discover what the right thing to do would be. Right? There's so many factors, so many details. But if I clearly and concisely explain to him what I'm trying to achieve, what I tried and did not work, and what I want from him, which is just advice on what I should do next or what might be causing this, now, he can answer my question directly and quickly. I'm not making him do any of the work. I'm not making him pull information out of me so that he can help me with my problem.

[00:11:08] When you're going to ask somebody for help, help them help you. You don't make them do all the work, right? You have to make it easy for them to say yes. You have to make it easy for them to share their expertise or their perspective or their knowledge with you. And you do that by what? Number one, knowing exactly what you want. Number two, reverse engineering your own goal. Number three, asking yourself what you should do and how you should do it. Number four, trying that shit.

[00:11:36] And if it doesn't work, then you move on to the next four steps. You acknowledge your ignorance and their expertise, right? Number two, you describe the situation clearly and concisely. Don't waste people's time. Number three, you explain what you did to try to solve your own problem. And number four, you ask what they would do if they were you. If you apply this simple method of asking for advice, I guarantee that people will not only be happier to give you advice or help or answer your questions, but you'll get better advice and better answers to your questions. Alright?

[00:12:11] I'm by no means a communications expert, an advice expert, or nothing like that, but this is just from years of talking to people every single day. Years of teaching English online and people asking the same kinds of questions in the same ways. Years of trying to figure out how to do or achieve certain goals in my own life, and having to ask other people for advice and find answers to questions. This is all based on my personal experience. So this is not like the law. This is not fact. This is just my opinion and my perspective on what I think is the right way to ask for advice.

[END OF EPISODE]

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