If you really want something, you’ve got to ask for it.
At least that’s what Emily told me.
Six years ago, I met Emily Balistieri, (aka @tiger), back when Twitter was a tiny company of fifty and we had both started work. Emily was there, doing fun stuff, and we hung out at work for a couple years, until she left Twitter in 2011. We hadn’t seen each other since then, we realized, and so when we had dinner last week here in Tokyo there was a lot to catch up on. About her work as an award-winning translator in Japan, and her work in the publishing world.
About her work with Zapuni, a nonprofit organization that unites Japanese visual artists with world-renowned musicians to help children affected by the Tohoku Earthquake and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster. About where I could get a Ponyo doll for my one-year old daughter.
And about the importance of asking for what you want.
“Everything I’ve ever gotten in life I just asked for,” she said.
That’s her secret, and it sounds like she’s not the only one that’s figured it out.
Over the past week, I’ve had an amazing adventure meeting with Japanese entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs, all thanks to All Nippon Airways, who created a cool tool for LinkedIn, Flight Connections, that maps your connections on the globe.
They let me try it out, told me to click “Tokyo”, and then sent me here to meet with some of the folks that showed up on my map.
A lot of these people, it turned out, believe in the power of asking.
Hiroyasu “ichi” Ichikawa, the author of The Social Good Guide, helps nonprofit organizations better use social media. One key tip for nonprofits? Ask for support from influencers to expand your reach.
Gen Taguchi, whose life changed forever a dozen years ago when he hit publish on his first blog, making him, well, internet famous;) These days, as the cofounder ofDotInstall.com, he knows what asking is all about. Even the dinner of interesting folks he assembled for me all came together through a simple ask on Facebook.
And then there’s Peace Boat, a nonprofit organization founded on the philosophy that the big dreams of individuals – to see the world – can be accomplished, and can accomplish even greater things along the way. Peace Boat creates voyages across the globe to learn, share, and mobilize communities Walk down the streets of Tokyo and you’ll see the signs for Peace Boat everywhere. Walk into their offices, as I did last week, and you’ll see a hundred volunteers working to fulfill the asks of those who respond to those posters.
And the staff members are no different. A decade ago, Columbian-born Maria Perez had a dream of seeing the world. Joining the ship as a teacher was the first step in her journey to become part of the international staff of this organization (granted Special Consultative Status at the United Nations to fulfill its mission), and to work to help expand Peace Boat’s efforts into the Americas.
Again and again, in my meetings with the passionate individuals around Tokyo, I found the same thing: people and organizations who live their lives with a guiding premise, that seeking what we want, asking for it, and then working hard to get it is the way to achieve your dream.
Whatever it is.