The Art of Asking

03/27/2015 03:14 pm ET | Updated May 27, 2015
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"Well done is better than well said." -- Benjamin Franklin, American Statesman (1706-1790)

What does this mean? It means asking for something: a raise, a promotion, a recommendation or asking for help. The word is simple, but the action is not. When you believe you deserve to better yourself -- and you have proven that you deserve it -- ask for it. It takes courage to ask for help. Women are often especially hesitant in doing so. There is a critical difference between those who ask and those who don't. It is a learning curve. The overwhelming majority, once they ask, they get.

It takes a form of resilience, an inner voice that demands of us to care about ourselves and others. It must not deplete us by whatever we encounter. Substance is more than style. Networking is an essential part of life today, mastering the niceties of life are noted in a private and business world; remembering a name, particularly if you had a chance to exchange more than just a hello with someone. This is part of the asking -- a thoughtful gesture, showing interest in the other. These are small things to remember, yet important things. It makes the other person feel well, even welcome, even empathetic.

In today's world women have a chance and a choice to either partake in leadership possibilities and ascending the ladder of corporate success or running their own companies. Sheila Ronning, CEO & Founder of Women in the Boardroom established her company in 2002. Her organization focuses on senior-level executives to become better leaders. In building her organization, she expresses the following:

A well-rounded board will have a matrix of skill-sets needed to best serve its clients whether that is for the shareholders of a public company or a private one. When a board needs to add an additional or new member they decide which skill-sets are missing. In most cases the board will reach out to those within their own network. Research shows that less than 15 percent of all board seats are filled by a search firm. When a search firm is retained, the first question is often asked 'who do you know?' Over the past three to five years there has been a shift in what skills are needed for boards. The boardrooms were filled with financial experts but in today's world those are not the only sought-for skills; there is a new wave of skills that boards are seeking, they are in marketing, online, social, risk oversight, sales, operations and human resources. The media tends to focus on Fortune 500 boards but it is vital to know what type of corporate board one is best suited for, maybe it is a smaller public company, a privately held company or a for-profit advisory one. On each of the boards the job of a director varies. For a public company it is governance, for a private company the focus tends to be on strategy.

Edie Weiner, the Futurist and President of Weiner, Edrich, Brown, is the leader in identifying change, tracking trends, and helps organizations to stay ahead of the speed of change. The impact the speed has on current and future directions affects all professional and personal lives. To the question of the art of asking Ms. Weiner replies:

For everyone you meet and you take a liking to... think of what you can do for them. Once you have done three things, you have the right to ask for something in return. The universe will give back, maybe not by people you helped but by someone else.

Using your skills you never thought possible, applying the magic of surprise, going after something you have a passion for -- whether it is being a leader of a group, a member of a board, or starting your own company -- all this adds value to life and remember repetition keeps you energized. Have the courage to try; If you don't, you will never know that you can succeed.

"Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do." -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (German author 1749-1832)