Do any of you out there have the crazy habit of always trying to accomplish everything on your own? My hand is raised here because I am guilty of this a thousand times over. Well-trained in the masculine model of getting shit done, I used to be skeptical of collaboration because who would get the credit? How could I make sure my value would be seen?
In 2013, I launched Emerging Women with a Kickstarter campaign – another extremely challenging idea for me. I would cringe every time I sent out an update, or another post reminding people of the cause and the deadline. But while I was experiencing reluctance and shame, my advisors were pushing me to post more frequently, and even to reach out directly to individuals for help.
That advice went against everything I had learned growing up in upper-middle class Andover, Massachusetts: Don’t ask for money, it’s not polite to ask for seconds, accept what you are given, don’t be greedy, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, figure it out on your own, and above all, don’t EVER depend on other people for your success.
Somehow I had it in my brain that if I needed something, I must not be worth investing in. Don’t people want to invest in “winners?” People who are independently successful?
But I did as I was advised, and the more I reached out, the more I found amazing women who wanted to be involved, who wanted to help. In the end, I raised $55k in four weeks – and now I know that I could never have launched Emerging Women without this kind of collective support.
As a result of this experience, I have come to understand that I don’t want to go at it alone. That all those years of “pulling myself up by my bootstraps” left me depleted and more susceptible to self-doubt and self-criticism. When I reach out and co-create with the women in our network, I feel rejuvenated, inspired, and more passionate about my work.
I know I’m not the only one who’s investigating her relationship to asking. Amanda Palmer’s new book The Art of Asking looks into just that. It’s based on her experience as a trailblazing musician who redefined the industry with her ground-breaking Kickstarter campaign (still the highest funded music project on that platform). By reframing “asking” as an opportunity for collaboration and co-creation, by leveraging her huge and tech-savvy fan base, and by receiving support directly from the people she makes the music for, Amanda Palmer found a way to sidestep the middlemen who overrun the music industry. Her campaign (which asked for $100,000) closed at almost $1.2 million. Boom.
Founder, Emerging Women