People laugh at me when they hear some of the “ridiculous” things that I have asked for. I admit that I have asked some outlandish questions in my time. I even once asked the greatest thinker of modern times, Edward de Bono, to write the foreword for a book I had written.

The answer no should not make you cringe.

Be prepared to push the envelope. Make the most outlandish requests of those around you. Be prepared to think creatively in those requests. If you take that approach, you will hear the word no more often than most. The upside is that you will also hear the word yes occasionally. And it can be surprising.

Don’t be afraid to ask a client for the sale. Don’t be concerned about asking clients for their business. Make sure for every outlandish request you make that you can deal with the situation if you manage to get a yes. The old saying still applies, “Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true.”

At a Microsoft conference on Hamilton Island many years ago, the award winners from the previous year were invited to a luncheon. I was lucky enough to sit near Steve Vamos, then managing director of Microsoft Australia. The financial numbers that we talked were a world apart, but on a whim, I invited Steve to have dinner in Dubbo with my best clients. (Dubbo is a city with a population of 40,000 located 400 kilometres inland from Sydney.)

To my amazement, he said yes.

This was no small occasion. The managing director of a multinational company the size of Microsoft does not pop in and have dinner with our clients every day.

It was a great experience and one that our clients still talk about today.

And all because I wasn’t scared to ask a question—fully prepared to hear the word no!

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