Probably one of the most valuable lessons I have learned as a female entrepreneur is to get my ‘ask’ in gear.
At a recent Mass Conference For Women, I attended a break out session presented by Cathie Black, Former President of Hearst Magazines. As one of Forbes’s “100 Most Powerful Women”, she was speaking about pursuing your passions and was also promoting her new book Basic Black – The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life).
As I sat in the audience of no less than 700 women I found myself attracted to her confident straight talk and of course impressed with her accomplishments. The more she spoke the more I wanted to speak to her one on one. Then it happened! She announced she would take a few questions up at the open mike. I had 5 seconds to react, knowing that many would move, but few would make it to the front of the line! My mad dash successfully put me 5th in line. Holy Sh**, what am I going to ask? I will have a one-on-one with Cathie and 700 other women will be listening. Think Doreen think. Compose your words clearly, carefully, succinctly and for god sakes, don’t choke!
My head was spinning and then I heard her say, “Hello, love your jacket, please introduce yourself”. After my very brief intro (we all shouldn’t have to practice our name and title – got that one down), she said, “And Doreen what is your question today?”
And this is what came out of my mouth, “Cathie, what advice would you give to women who struggle with getting their ask in gear?”
Cathie burst out laughing and said to the audience, “Did you also think she just said ~ Women who struggle to get their ass in gear?” And the whole crowd erupted.
Her answer was robust but I will highlight just a few of her points.
- Why does Nike say Just Do It?
- If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
- If you don’t ask, you don’t show intent, interest or confidence in yourself.
After several minutes of great banter, she thanked me for my fabulous question and even referenced me later in the session (remembering my name and company) by saying, “Ladies, be sure to get your ‘ask’ in gear and connect with Doreen Dove before you leave.” What? What’s better than that? I found myself at the front of the room with many women taking the time to stop, share their business cards and share their stories. I can tell you today that many of those women that I met that afternoon, are currently my top clients! Moral of the story – get your ‘ask’ in gear!
What does this have to do with Fashion Friday? Oh, let me count the ways!
Here are my Top 10 Get Your ‘Ask’ In Gear Fashion Tips
Your Personal Budget
- Have you, as an individual or as a household member, ever put your wardrobe or personal appearance in the budget? I mean a real line item entry? Now is the time. Let’s say that you need to purchase 2 fifty-dollar items a month to keep yourself current and well dressed. Then $1200 should be placed in the budget annually for you personally. No questions asked.
Your Personal Shopping Habits
- Have you ever outsourced your style beyond reading Style Magazine in the dentist office? Come on ladies, do what you do best and hire someone else to do the rest! If you are clueless when it comes to your style, you are not going to magically wake up one morning as a raving fashionista. Hire someone competent to help you with all that you struggle with, your closet, your clothing choices, your body image, your shopping habits and so on. This will empower you once and done. You will then be able to consistently move about your life confident and well dressed!
- Have you ever made a list before shopping for clothing? We all know you have bread and milk on a list for everyone else, what about bras and booties for you? There should be a notepad in your closet so as you struggle each day with putting looks together and creating the discard pile on the floor, you can note what you hate in your closet and what you actually need to replace! Review the list often, transfer it to your computer and start searching online for the items on your list. Why? Because Mildred, if a long black cardigan is on your list, you don’t want to just show up at a store and buy a short black cardigan because that is all that they have! Google ‘long black cardigan’ and no doubt 20 stores will pop up in your area. Check out the ones offered up and see if they are right for you, the right weight, the right length and the right price! Now get your ask in gear in #4!
- Actually ‘ask’ if your size and color is available in your local store before you plop your butt in the car! Life is too short to go on a search and find for a black cardigan. Most online stores have an online chat button. Get on there and ask if that sweater is in stock in that store. Want to count this as a double ask? After the online chat says yes, call the store yourself, ask for women’s sweaters and have the sales gal actually hold it for you. Get her name and ask for her when you get to the store. Now you have a sweater to look at and a human contact once there in case you need a different size. Just ask!
- Here’s a real pet peeve of mine. Let’s say you are in-between a regular and a petite size. Perhaps a regular top and petite bottom or vice versa. Or even just someone who struggles with the rise of pants so you should be trying both sizes at the same time. Most stores have regular and petite in separate departments with many on separate floors! Get your ask in gear – if there is a saleswoman on the floor and you have selected 3 items in a size 8, ask her to go retrieve the same 3 items in a 10 petite. The two sizes are comparable, so you should be trying both at the same time so you can compare the fit. If the departments are on separate floors, ask the staff if it is okay for you to bring your petite selections downstairs while you also gather them in regular sizes so you only have to get naked in the dressing room once! I have to tell you when I shop with my clients, I ask for everything, right down to what coupons the sales associate might have stashed at the register!
- The shoe department? Oh, don’t get me started! How often have you found yourself shopping for pants but you have the wrong shoe on? You do the tippy toe dance in front of the mirror hoping that you are buying pants long enough for your favorite work shoes or heels. Then you get home and it looks like you are expecting a flood. Get your ask in gear. Go over to the shoe department, find a shoe that is similar to what you left in your closet and ask if you can take one shoe into the dressing room while you try on your pants. The key word here is ONE shoe – nobody steals just one! Leave them your business card or name and phone, tell them what department you are shopping in and ask their name so you can be sure to return it to them. Chances are pretty epic they will accommodate you.
- Ask them to price match! If one department store is having a 25% off sale, but you find your size in another store – ask that store to price-match. Yes it may take a few minutes for them to authorize the discount, but again, you don’t know if you don’t ask.
- Ask the store to order the size they do not have in stock for you. I can’t tell you how many people will either settle for not-the-best-fit or walk away from a great item because their size is not on the rack. Take the item to the register and ask them to check the company inventory and if found ask them to ship it to you – free shipping. That’s a pretty standard practice nowadays.
- Have a favorite consignment shop that you frequent? Have only one designer that shows up there that you like, say Eileen Fisher? Ask the shop owner to call you when new Eileen Fisher items arrive. Trust me, they will call you!
- I saved the best for last. When YOU are actually asked what you want as a holiday, birthday or anniversary gift, be prepared with a precise answer! You know what I am talking about. The old, oh-whatever-is-fine answer is the world’s worst answer. Take a look at your closet girlfriend! Do you really need one more pastel v-neck cashmere sweater? This circles back to the notepad in your closet! Ask for what you really want or really need! My advice? Ask for a gift certificate to your favorite store, stylist or service! Then you will know that you are actually getting precisely what you asked for!
Come and visit me along with 10,000 fabulous women at the 2015 Mass Conference For Women where I will be exhibiting, meeting, greeting, schmoozing and selling my book Confidence Is Always In Style. Message me if you are coming! December is right around the corner – what are you going to wear?
And remember – get your ask in gear – even if it is Honey, can you empty the dishwasher?