By Paula Zangari
About ten years ago, I was mentored by a wonderful boss who taught me one of the most valuable lessons I ever learned: If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
I was a new mom working on a six-month contract job for the Colorado Division of Wildlife. I assisted Renee, who ran a program in the educational department called “Wildlife Watch." We had a large display coming up at an RV and camping expo and the task ahead of us was huge: the plan was to recreate a forest scene, complete with animals specimens from the State’s collection. It was an important task because the Division of Wildlife’s largest source of revenue at that time was park fees and hunting and fishing licenses. For the expo, we had to reel in those campers and RVers.
Renee told me casually to call up several sportsman and camping retail stores and ask for various donations for our expo display, such as parts of trees that were used in the stores. I guess Renee could tell that I was intimidated by this task because she kindly told me that if I didn’t ask, the answer was always going to be no. I realized she was right and started making calls. And the stores were generous! We received a lot of donations, all because we asked. The expo was a complete success.
Renee’s advice has stuck with me all of these years. Both professionally and personally, I have found myself using her words to bolster my resolve. Of course, I strive to make my “asks” kindly and with an awareness of what I am requesting.
I used my former mentor’s advice just last week. A customer had a broken thermostat on a panel system that needed to be fixed immediately. Instead of placing a parts order and waiting several days for delivery, I called the parts rep and asked, “Do you have one of these thermometers?” He said yes, drove it over to UCEC headquarters and then we made sure it landed in the customer’s hands. And all because I asked!
Paula is an Operations Support Manager at UCEC. This is her first column on the UCEC blog.
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