Ask a CEO: How Do You “Get What You Want” (you know, entice everyone around you to naturally want to do your bidding), –Without Being Pushy or Bossy?

I have a theory. I believe that many of us are only 1 request away from getting what we want. By getting “what we want,” I don’t mean little things, like taking the night off or getting someone else to do the dishes.

I mean a great, big thing, like:

• A far more profitable business.
• Better partnership with others and with your team. No nonsense.
• Big changes to your business that were within arm’s reach all along.

For years I have been a corporate trainer, facilitator and executive coach. I’m the one who comes in to work with teams and whip them into shape. Clients like AMEX and Ogilvy have been coming to me for years. They love it, and I love it. It’s a match made in heaven.

I soon realized the secret to high performance and high profits isn’t in developing new modules or getting people to feel “more motivated.” It is in showing them how to talk to each other. And no other form of talking is more powerful than the right kind of request.

I know asking for what you want can feel complicated! What if they say no? What if they say yes, but then never take action? What if they think you’re bossy or pushy? That’s what keeps us from asking for what we want. (There’s a method I teach that overcomes this.)

No one wants to be greedy or pushy, so we learn to ignore our desires for more. When we do that, we shut down more recognition, more impact, more love. This is a total misunderstanding of our inner voice & its intentions. The twinge of desire you feel is not selfishness. It’s your mind telling you, Woman! You have so much more to give! Let’s get to it already!

What I know: thinking big isn’t really just about you! When you think big, you do it for everyone involved.

Think (big) enough of them to ask for what you want.

You both are meant to make a bigger contribution.


The CEOs I interviewed know that contributing more means being willing to negotiate for what you need. When you are getting what you need, you’ll be able to give everything you’ve got. Listen to how these CEOs get it done:


“Why ask? People say yes, but what I get wasn’t what I wanted. It’s hard to trust again. Yet, I’m open to ideas…”

HOW you communicate to anyone is important. Don’t tell them what to do, or how to do it. Tell them the final result you hope to accomplish, the guidelines they may need to work within (budget constraints, legal, etc.) and then let them chart the path. Don’t micro-manage, don’t second guess. If you feel they are off-base, then talk about it. Use words such as “you might want to”, or “you could”. Replace the word “should” with “might” or “could” and it comes across as a suggestion instead of a command. Also give feedback in a positive way. Example: They tell you their plan and you see some pitfalls, consider saying, “Good work, but how would it look if we . . . .”
~Debbie Simpson, CEO Multi-Craft

“I get so nervous, how do I ask without giving myself away?”

I script out what I am going to say. I say it aloud and then think about what they must be hearing. I put myself in their shoes and think about what is in it for them. What would make them say yes? Another great strategy is to get them from thinking with their head to feeling in their heart — that works best when you want them to make, not a logical decision, but an emotional one.”
~ Michelle Crumm, CEO Ultra Electronics

“How do I turn my request into results? So many people say yes and then don’t follow through.”

You have to find the ‘win’ for the person you are asking. The ’win’ can be as simple as they get to keep their job. But more often, you have to paint a picture for them to see how complying with your request is to their benefit. Example: More cold calls = more qualified prospects = more sales = more money for you. I think people often believe you’re just asking to ask. They don’t know the final outcome you are trying to achieve, but they only see the short term problem of your asking them to do something more. It’s worth taking the time to explain your vision and how your request fits into that vision.”
~Debbie Simpson, CEO Multi-Craft

Authenticity, integrity, looking people in the eyes and telling them just like it is. I never sugar-coat anything. These are my foundation principles. What they see is what they get.”
~Jennifer Schoenhofer, CEO Axis Teknologies

“Honestly, I’m afraid to ask for what I want. What if they say no?”

Part of this is being able to take no for an answer. I usually have a back-up plan in case the answer is no. It seems to me that when you have a plan for different results, it is easier to ask because you don’t have to fear the answer. You are prepared no matter what the answer is. Also, discussing something with someone, genuinely listening to their response, engaging in give and take rather than forcing the issue usually brings about more opportunity for getting what you want. People tend to be more agreeable when they feel they are being heard.”
~Carolyn DeNapoli, CEO Direct Sign Systems

Why not spend the next couple of days practicing at thinking big for yourself and others? What happens when you know people “as giants,” capable of extraordinary feats and willing to grant your request? What happens if you give them a chance to deliver and expect the best?

Let me know in the comments below.

I want to meet people who want to learn how to make powerful requests–whether they’re entrepreneurs or the leaders of firms or companies. I want to turn them into forces of nature who can get anyone to just naturally want to do their bidding. If you or up to 3 of your trusted friends/colleagues can email me your response to the following question, I will offer you a 30-minute personal, one-on-one, private session to help you turn that request into reality.

Here’s what I need to know:

What is the ONE thing you would ask for if you knew you had nothing to lose?

If you’d like to take me up on this–or have a trusted friend or colleague who might, won’t you pass this article along? I’ll grant requests as long as they are submitted to me by June 30, 2012.

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15 thoughts on “Ask a CEO: How Do You “Get What You Want” (you know, entice everyone around you to naturally want to do your bidding), –Without Being Pushy or Bossy?

  1. This is great – and exactly what’s been on my mind for a while. I’ve been reluctant about asking for what I want, because I realised that even from a young age, I was called bossy, a “know it all” and then at High School, a bitch for being a leader so I shied away from it!

    Great article! 

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it…saddens me to say you are not alone. It’s funny how people (without meaning any harm) will shut down those who are stepping out and leading.  In Australia I was told they call it the “Tall Poppy Syndrome”. 

      One quote (not sure who said it first) I try to live by is:  “What you think of me is NONE of my business.”  I find it really helps me keep my life-behavior-actions-conversations all lined up with my commitments.  When my commitments run the show, my concerns for other’s opinions of me take a back seat. 

      Denie, imagine what the world would look like if you were freely asking for anything and boldly moving toward your dreams and GO FOR IT! 

      1. Dear Denise- – I have to laugh.  I just saw YOUR blog!!! You ARE absolutely going for it!!!  LOVE your style and your message – here’s to us creating victories and magic for all!

    2. Wow, Denise, you sound so much like me… I’d rather help others than ask for help myself. I think it’s about time to get back to being who we truly are… leaders who know HOW to ask.
      Annette – fantastic article. Thanks a bunch for excellent, easy to apply tips!

  2. Thank you Annette. A very insightful, but more importantly, useful blog post! It’s incredible how afraid we are of just asking. The worst that can happen is we get a ‘no’, but so often we fail to imagine what the best is that can happen!

    1. Heyyy Angela!  I too was born in ’68!  Running to jump on a call but I wanted to say I LOVE your story and am just scratching the surface of your blog. Thanks for reading and your encouraging comments. I used to be so painfully shy and insecure that for me the victory is in the asking.  If they  say “yes” that is a double bonus!  It has freed me a lot to give up the attachment to “yes” and to realize it isn’t about me at all. They answer however they answer and I can be proud of the fact I swung out and asked.  The victory is mine either way!  

  3. This is exactly what I’ve been struggling with for a long time: “No one wants to be greedy or pushy, so we learn to ignore our desires
    for more. When we do that, we shut down more recognition, more impact,
    more love. This is a total misunderstanding of our inner voice & its
    intentions.” Thank you so much for this post, it’s given me insights I was looking for for a long time. Might even solve my dilemma after all and move on to bigger and greater things.

  4. What a great post Annette.  I often have a difficult time of hearing ‘no’ and ‘asking’ for clarification so this is an area I need to be more willing to delve into.  Some meetings coming up next week will be great opportunities for me to ask for what I want as well.    Thanks for the post!!

  5. Very Creative Post!  I love the way you incorporated others into it. 
    Blessings Lorraine

  6. Very helpful post and I also like how you weaved in responses from many other experts. Here’s what I am taking away from this, the importance of making your request a win for them! Yes, we’ve heard this before, however, do we take it serious? The fact that these professionals are “practicing” presenting their request and feeling out how the listener may responds way before they enter the actual conversation is inspiring to me in a practical and spiritual sense. I love the respect it shows and the practicality of painting a long term vs short term picture for the person. Also it communicates the seriousness of your request and that you aren’t asking just to be asking. It takes more time to stop and do this but in the end leads to much more productivity and goodwill. Great confirmation, I actually have a request I will be presenting and imagined doing these very things way before I presented my request. Gold Blessings… Lana 

  7. Fabulous! And immensely helpful. I love the part about HOW you communicate, how you ask, and why that makes all the difference.

  8. Annette- we’re kindred spirits, so glad to meet you!

    Crazy how often we want something but won’t ask because we might not get it. Dang- you don’t have it now, so where’s the harm in asking? My grandma used to say, and I’ve adopted it as one of my mottoes: If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

    The best way to take away that ‘roller-coaster’ tummy feeling the next time you’re asking is to be transparent about how you feel. Sure you feel anxious and afraid. It’s ok to say, I’m nervous asking this but I’m doing it because…

    That moment of vulnerability connects you because who HASN’T wanted something but feared they wouldn’t get it. Speaking up for yourself can be a quiet moment of -here’s my truth- as much as it a firm stand.

    Can’t wait to read what’s next!

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