Always Ask

Episode Transcript

Hello everyone and welcome to the very first episode of my new podcast if I'm honest with Julia Landauer. I'm Julia Landauer. Let's go on a quick speed date, shall we? So I've never done this in real life. But here we go. So I am a champion racecar driver. I'm 31 years old. I've been racing since I was 10 years old, started in go karts, went to Formula cars, and then went on the NASCAR circuit. And I'm from New York City, I went to a Math and Science High School called Stuyvesant High School for my New York listeners out there. I went to Stanford, got a bachelor of science, have always been a tech, I wouldn't say tech nerd, but I really appreciate human machine interaction. And I think technical literacy is super important. And I was on the TV show SURVIVOR while I was in college, I have given two TEDx talks, One about women's empowerment called can nice girls win races? And one about fear, Called I'm a racer, yes, I get scared. After I graduated, I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, where I currently live with my husband, Ben. Ben is a really great chef, which means that I'm a forever sous chef now and human dishwasher. But we take that with with good food that comes with it. And yeah, I'm now a woman in my 30s. And I have been really grateful for all the experiences that I've had. And you know, one of my goals with keynote speaking has always been to help people live their best lives. And that's what I try to do via my Instagram Stories also, to share the little things I'm thinking about to comment on some pop culture like the recent Taylor Swift, Fernando Alonso dating rumor I mean, whoa. And yeah, so my whole goal here is to be able to have a conversation with you as friends, I hope we get to know each other more over the coming episodes. And yeah, I'm really excited to be here, and really grateful to have you with me. So it was actually quite difficult to figure out which episode was going to be the first episode. You know, in true. First Born Scorpio style, I have a very long running document with all of the episode themes, the different ideas, I'm outlining a bunch of episodes, and I was just trying to figure out what would encapsulate kind of the vibe I'm going for something I think is important. And that's how I settled on always ask. Now, I think of always asking as kind of multifaceted, there's the there's the always ask as in like, shoot your shot, you know, you're doing it for you, you're setting yourself up to potentially take advantage of an opportunity, you know, asking for what you're worth, you know, asking someone on a date, whatever it might be. So there's that, like, you know, always asking for yourself, but then I also look at always asking as kind of like aiming for clarity in relationships, you know, always asking so that you can help with communicating clearly, and maybe to avoid miscommunication and conflict, and to diversify ideas, you know, asking when you need help. So I think there's just a lot of different ways we can look at this. And it's super important. And I have three reasons that I want to share with you about why it is important to always ask. So it's probably pretty clear by now that I firmly believe that it's really, really important to ask for what we want. And what we need. And what I've heard anecdotally from talking with friends or women that I've seen at networking events, is that sometimes there's a little more hesitance for women to ask for what we want. And sometimes we tend to wait to be invited to things, whereas guys are sometimes more inclined to just go for it. It comes down to a little bit of risk aversion, you know, stuff like that. But I also read a study by bowles, Babcock and Lai. And they looked at if women and men were equally likely to negotiate compensation, and what they found was that it kind of depended on who was asking and who was being asked. And so for example, if a woman had to negotiate her compensation with a man, she was less likely to initiate that negotiation, whereas guys were equally likely to negotiate for compensation regardless of who they had to talk to. So for my ladies out there, most of us feel like this is a little bit harder, and that's completely okay. You know, imposter syndrome is real gender biases and stereotypes are real. So we have to work with what we got. But given that it is important to ask, I want to first talk about the specific importance in being clear and concise, in what you're asking for, you know, it might be obvious but clear communication is something that is some of the hardest stuff to do out there. Because we're each limited by our own mindsets, our own perspectives, our own experiences, our own filters that we view the world through. And the reality is that no one is a mind reader and and if we make assumptions about how other people are going to receive information or hear what we're saying whether this is personally or professionally or what have you, we're gonna run into obstacles, and we're going to have conflicts that were probably quite avoidable. And if I'm honest, I didn't really internalize this until a few years ago, where I had a professional experience where I was imprecise, I was making a bunch of assumptions, and it wasted my time it wasted someone else's time. And had I not figured it out through the help of my mother, I probably wouldn't have got gotten what I wanted. So a few years before the pandemic, I was asked to speak on a panel for International Women's Day in New York, it was for a big corporation. I was really excited, excited, started working with my stylist and I knew that I wanted to be trendy and smart looking and you know, put together so we had this, this really dark turtleneck and a big full skirt and boots. And I just felt great on top of the world power woman. And then I got on stage and didn't feel as trendy as these other women. But that's quite all right. And what was really cool about this conference is that the in addition to being able to talk with these women and everything, but the moderator was going to be hosting a big women's conference that was going to be highly publicized later in the year. And I knew they were still looking for speakers, I wanted to show the moderator that I was a good speaker who could articulate my thoughts. And my hope was that she would invite me to speak and I would kind of like, set it up and tee it up so that she would, you know, have the idea to ask me. Now, the problem with this was that I kind of didn't want to step on her toes. I didn't want to impose I didn't want the idea to feel like mine. I want it to feel like hers. So I just I just skirted the issue. And I look back and I realized the way I asked her, you know, or the way I told her that I wanted to be involved was very passive. And the way that I followed up with her was somewhat passive. And when I wasn't getting the reaction that I had hoped to get from her, I started venting to my mom, I just told her like, Why isn't she connecting the dots like, I know that they need speakers, she's told me I'm a good speaker, I've expressed my interest in wanting to go to this conference. And my mom immediately cut me off. And she said, Julia, did you ask this woman if she you could speak at their conference? And I said, No, I've been setting it up, you know, I've been trying to make it her idea. And she just said, you know, this is a busy woman, if you tell her that you're excited to go or that you want to attend or that you have good ideas like she's going to take that at face value, you need to just be upfront, let her know what you want, ask her nicely and see where it goes. And I didn't really believe that it would be as simple as that when I was talking with my mother. But I decided, okay, you know what this woman is a wise woman, meaning my mom is a wise woman, like, let me take her advice. So I send another email to the moderator who was hosting the conference. And I explicitly said, hey, you know, thinking more on this, I believe that I have some valuable experiences and stories that I can tell that would be really beneficial to your audience. And so if you're still looking for speakers, I'd like to propose myself as one. And she got back to me within that day and said, Julia, that's such a great idea. Thank you for asking me, I wouldn't have thought of that. And I felt like such a dumb dumb, because here I was skirting the issue trying to be clever, and then getting frustrated, because my, my cleverness was not working. And so therefore it wasn't clever. Hello. But I realized like, Oh, my goodness, this was so easy. It was not offensive, I was not stepping on toes, I was not imposing. And it was a really clear lesson in needing to be clear, and concise. No one's a mind reader, we can't make assumptions. And also, we just have to recognize that even if people are trying to help us, they might not know the best way to do that, you know, and so we have to make other people's jobs as easy as possible for them by being clear in what we need and what we want. Okay, so at this point, we know we have to ask, we know we have to be clear and concise. But I don't know if you guys have experienced this too. But for a really long time, if I wanted to reach out to someone or if I had an idea, especially if I was dealing with someone older, more professional, more mature and more experienced, I would from time to time find myself making excuses and reasons for why I shouldn't reach out or why it wouldn't work out. And this is primarily I think when it came to pitching myself for sponsorship or racing, or for asking for a professional introduction or following up on a lead for a speaking event. So it was in those kind of high stress. times when I was asking for things when I was asking for money to go racing when I was our sponsorship agreements, right and partnerships, but asking for them to make a spend asking for them to hire me for a keynote. And I can't remember when or why I started to reframe it. But at some point shortly out of college, I realized it, there are plenty of people who will have no problem telling us no for any number of reasons, right? Like, for me when it comes to pitching sponsorship, maybe my ideas didn't fit their campaign, maybe they didn't want to spend that money from their budget, maybe they didn't want to do the heavy lift of having to pitch it to their superior, who knows. But I kind of took those experiences I had had, and I reframed it as okay, if it's going to be an uphill battle anyway. And if other people will be quick to tell me no, if they want to, then I certainly don't want to be the one to get in my own way. Right? I can't let myself be my own enemy, I can't sabotage myself by never even going forward in the first place. And so my big my big push for you guys is that if you're excited by a job, but you're not sure if you're qualified, like go for it, they will, they will let you know if you are not a good fit for the role. You know, if you want to collaborate with a company, go for it, pitch yourself make the best case. You know, I've had a lot of ideas that I've gotten excited about that I put together brainstorm and a quick pitch as to why it makes sense. And look, a lot of times the answer is no, right? You know, sales are really hard. And your your success rate typically is kind of small, especially if it's something like racing sponsorship. But but we have to try, right, and we have to give ourselves that opportunity. And I the last thing that I want to talk about with this is that we really can't let our egos get in the way. And one example of this is for those of you who don't know, I was on season 26 of SURVIVOR - spoiler, I did not win my season. - And I think that every other player who went to Stanford did win their season. So not like I'm going to be bitter about that forever. But when I look back on how I prepared and how I strategized, there are a lot of things I would do differently. And so in an effort to try to have the opportunity to redeem myself, I have gone through the application on CBS' website several times since I've been on right, I have had to kind of own my story admit that I didn't do as well as I would have liked and tried to convince them to let me do it again. And it hasn't worked yet. But CBS if you're listening, definitely still interested. And but yeah, you know, we can't let our ego get away. If something excites us, we have to go for it. And that's when we we set ourselves up for the most potential success because we are we are creating the opportunities for us and not getting in our own way. The last reason that I want to share with you that I think it's really, really important to always ask, is because the feeling of regret, especially if you knew in the time that you could do something more or if something didn't go your way. That feeling of regret is so agonizing in the pit of your stomach. Right? You know, my parents always encouraged us to go after it and to try things they were super supportive. I'm really lucky. You know, I grew up with that mindset. But my my first experience with with feeling of regret or wondering what if actually came, you know, with a boy, so don't tell Ben this. But in high school, there was a guy who was older than me, and I had a crush on him. And, you know, I never really had the guts to try to make something happen. And when he graduated, I found myself wondering like, Oh, my goodness, I'm probably never going to see him again. And I'll never know. And I thought he was really cute. And the fact that I just didn't make any effort to try to see what there was there is not like, it doesn't keep me up at night. But it was a feeling of, you know, this, this isn't a great feeling. I don't like thinking what if I don't like knowing that I could have done something and maybe have gotten an answer that I was hoping for, it was impressionable enough that I decided I was always going to ask if I could see that there was something I could do to try to get what I wanted or what I needed, I was going to try to go for it. And you know, if you're going to do this, you also have to be ready that it may not go the way you want, right, we have to be good at taking yes and taking no as answers. So one example. And this is not advice if I have high schoolers listening. But it worked for me. I applied to Stanford early and I didn't get in right away. They deferred me to regular decision. And I didn't know why I thought I was a pretty good candidate. So I took it upon myself to email the Dean of Admissions and politely asked, you know, what they didn't like about my application so that I could work on it. And my college adviser ripped me a new one. She thought it was extremely inappropriate for me to do that. But the reality is that he responded and gave me the answer. And I knew that I had to work on my grades if I had a chance of getting in. So that's an example of it working on the flip side, you know, I I flew to another country to pitch a company for a racing sponsorship. I had a personal connection and I prepared really hard I went through the presentation many times I got feedback, and I thought that it was a really good fit. I thought there was a lot of potential. And at the end, they just didn't think I was a good fit my they I wasn't for them. And so it was a blow. But I also knew that I literally could not have done more than that I could not have prepared more I could not have had a clearer ask. And it let me feel that I was at peace. And, you know, I think the biggest example of the importance of trying everything you can, especially when you're going after your dreams, is because it makes it a lot easier if you don't get what you want. If you can look back and think alright, I did everything. And look, I can talk about this really personally and vulnerably. Like, I had really hoped that I would be racing in the NASCAR cup series by now I know that I'm talented enough, but it hasn't gone that way. Right? my racing career has not gone the way I had hoped it would. But I'm really, really okay with that. And relieved and at peace, because I feel like I did everything that I could do with what I had, you know, I'm disappointed. But I can't look back and say that there was more that I could have done or things that I could have asked for things that I could have tried. And so, again, it doesn't feel great, I'd love to be a superstar racecar driver. But, you know, I also I'm not living with that agonizing pit of the stomach regret of what could have been. And that's what I hope is a big takeaway here is that I want I want everyone to feel proud of what they've done. I want people to feel like, okay, you know, I've lived my life the best that I can. And, you know, we want to try to avoid regret as much as possible. So we've covered a lot today in a very short amount of time. But basically, for a recap, you know, it's important to ask if if you have any inkling that you want to do something, I want you to go for it. It's important to be precise and clear and concise in what we're asking and not make assumptions you know about what other people think or thinking. And other people will be quick to tell us No, So we shouldn't do that for ourselves. And yeah, I summarized it, you know, just now but we want to try not to have regrets. So I'm rooting for you. And I hope that this was helpful. And that's our show. You guys are the OGs. You can say you've been here since day one. And I'm super grateful. And thank you to my friends who have helped with feedback and ideas in making this come to life. It certainly takes a village and if you enjoyed this episode, please share it with your friends. Subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen to podcasts and consider leaving a review because that will help more people join our circle of friends. Thank you for letting me be honest with you and I look forward to seeing you next week.