How to get what you want by just asking
“Ask and you shall receive” (Matthew 21:22) may be Biblical but social media is proving that it is far from a dying art form. As a matter of fact so many wishes seem to just come true on the web that you can be forgiven for wondering whether it’s time perhaps to give up that day job and simply get online and beg.


Never has a three letter word carried with it such explosive connotations or has been the subject of as much misunderstanding as this one and I could write tomes on the difference between begging and asking but this TED Talk by Amanda Palmer nails it with a sincerity I could hardly do justice to:

Amanda, of course, has elevated it to an art form, making herself the “hat” as she so characteristically says and turning her life into an expression of openness with connection with her fans as the pay-off. As such she resides at one end of the scale with the other end occupied by High Schooler, Jake Davidson, and his YouTube invitation to the prom to Kate Upton:

Seeing how his video passed the one million views on YouTube Kate Upton tweeted as “Yes! Maybe!” message that got both even more media attention than before.

The middle ground between these two extremes is occupied by lucky man Craig Rowin who bagged himself a million dollars just by asking for it, though it was revealed, at a later stage, that it was all an elaborate hoax:

and Marine Sgt. Scott Moore who brazenly asked actress Mila Kunis to a Marine Corp Ball in Greenville, while he was on duty tour in Afghanistan:

She said “Yes!” and so did Friends With Benefits co-star, Justin Timberlake who also accepted a simkilar invitation from Marine Kelsey De Santis:

Is There a Formula?

Well yes! With so much asking and giving there is an inevitable pattern that’s observed. Successful ask-and-receive situations never happen unless they also touch one or more of these four, fundamentally human triggers:  

1.    Connection. To ask is not the same as to want. Asking is about expressing rather than stating what you would like. It is about opening up, showing vulnerability and expressing some hope. It is about lowering your guard and seeking to connect even if the form that connection will take is one of outright rejection. This is what Amanda Palmer highlights in her riveting presentation. This is the “Ask” that drives her and the “Give” that she so loves to be a part of. At its most honest this is about connecting and sharing hope, exchanging thoughts and, for a while, sharing a journey with fellow travellers through life. Craig Rowin’s request for a million dollars was so out of the blue that in retrospect could not fail but connect with the right recipient, provided he saw it (and he did).  

2.    Vulnerability. Jake Davidson is just 17. About to leave school and start a journey through life. Emotionally he is at his most vulnerable and his invitation to Kate Upton epitomises every school leaver’s dream to go to the prom with a model as their date. Performed so openly in such a public stage it also shows a deep sense of humanity. A willingness to both acknowledge and laugh at the human condition and to accept that it is only by ridiculing our innermost fears and desires can we hope to face them and, perhaps, beat them or realize them. Both Marines who asked out Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake, respectively, exchanged positions of authority for ones of vulnerability by stepping out of their comfort zone and Amanda Palmer uses vulnerability like a key, unlocking more doors that lead deeper into her art.

3.    Timing. Marine Sgt. Scott Moore asked Mila Kunis on a date at a time when troops and the Afghanistan war was very much on the news and when the latter was making headlines thanks to the successful Friends with Benefits film. The situation was much the same when co-star Justin Timberlake also agreed to a date with Kelsey De Santis. This situation of people in positions that are seemingly worlds apart, suddenly connecting through the most unlikely of mediums is the Cinderella Syndrome. It highlights the fact that stripped of our trappings, the reasons that keep us apart from others make little sense. Kate Upton, fresh from a Sports Illustrated cover shoot glory and on the ascendance would be hard pressed to say “no” publicly on the basis of her career, alone. There is no real reason why a popular actor cannot date a Marine.
4.    Honesty. Craig Rowin was upfront. He said he had no idea what he’d do with a million dollars if he got it but the thought it would be cool if he did because that, just like his asking, it would be part of something new, a culture that’s just developing and though we cannot articulate it well, we can all feel it happening. OK, he made it all up. But honesty runs through each of the other examples that are real and it has a transformative effect because it deeply humanizes each of the participants and ultimately it is that which swings things their way.

Does this mean that you’ve now cracked it? That all it takes is to put together a request with these four elements and it’ll come true, just like that? The meaning behind the Matthew verse that opened this article is that the act of asking is no guarantee that you will receive, but it is a guarantee of change. It is deeply transformative, and every transformation brings with it a host of opportunities, which is exactly what is intended.

What You Missed

Collaboration Economy: How Digital Culture Unleashes Value
Game On! How Digital is Breaking Down Barriers
What Did We Do Before Social Media?
How Social Media is Changing Our Brains (and the world)
The Super Bowl Meme That Drives Engagement

External Links

Kate Upton agrees to YouTube date request
Want a Million Dollars? Just Ask for it
Mila Kunis Attends Marine Corps Ball in North Carolina
Justin Timberlake accepts Marine's invitation to ball
Kate Upton Agrees To YouTube Date Request