Wes Kao 🏛

Wes Kao 🏛



Most people suck at asking for things. Here’s an easy framework for how to ask (and get a yes):

You and I can’t do everything on our own. Sheer willpower isn’t enough to push something through by yourself. Trust me, I’ve tried. 90% of the time, you need other people’s support and cooperation. At a minimum, you don’t want them to block you. You need their buy-in.

When people say yes, it means: ✅ More momentum and faith in your project ✅ More energy to do work that matters ✅ Less time worrying and trying to convince skeptics

A few situations where you’d want an enthusiastic yes: • Getting a warm introduction • Pitching your idea • Applying for a job • Closing the sale Notice these are all examples where the other person COULD say yes… Or they could ignore you (a tactful way to say no).

Warm introductions: "I'd love to meet your friend from XYZ company. Could you connect me with them?" Marketing your event: "Could you share this on social?"

Giving feedback: "There were lots of errors in the recent report. Could you keep an eye on details in the future?" Getting a job: “I’d be a great fit for your company and here’s what I can do.” Closing a sale: "It sounds like we're aligned. Do you want to move forward?"

This isn’t only for high-stakes situations. You should aim to get an enthusiastic yes in all interactions, including daily communication. • Agreeing to take a call • Extending a deadline • Changing a meeting time • Asking for more budget • Suggesting what to eat for dinner

Let’s invert the problem. Why do people say no? They say no because they don't see how a situation is beneficial to them. You wouldn’t do something if there's no upside for you. Too often, when you write or speak to others, you're only thinking of why an idea is good for you.

This is the most important time to position why an idea is good for THEM. The truth is, a lot of your requests--for customers, sales leads, or cross-functional team members--are inherently a bit selfish. But we can fix that...

To counteract your default "me"-centric viewpoint, you have to actively practice and consciously choose to see things from the other person's point of view. Then you can use those insights to frame and build a case.

To increase the chance of getting a yes: 1) Write the ask 2) Highlight parts that benefit you 3) Highlight parts that benefit the other person You may be surprised how much of your note is self-serving. The key is to edit so the final version is ~90% about the other person.

Here’s an actual note I edited for a friend a few years ago. Yellow = about themselves Green = about the recipient After the exercise, they were shocked at the page full of yellow highlights. Their pitch email was entirely about themselves!

Bottom line: If you can't think of why it would be rational for them to give you an enthusiastic yes, go back to the drawing board. Be glad you caught yourself before hitting send. Luckily you still have time to improve how to frame your idea so they’ll be eager to move forward.

Right now, you probably have a situation where you are hoping for a yes. You’re going to have to ask for it. Show people what they gain, not what you gain. Give them a reason to say yes to you. Give it a shot and let me know how it works.

If you enjoyed this, I write threads dissecting entrepreneurship, education, and marketing every week. Follow me @wes_kao to catch them in your feed.

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