There's nothing more inspiring than the story of a person who made it on his or her own. If I had a dollar for every gazillionaire who got to the top with nothing but a dream, hard work and a trust fund, I'd be a gazillionaire myself.
And I believe we can consider you a self-made business success, assuming we define success as being trapped in a going-nowhere job with measly pay, snippy co-workers and a sense of gloom that descends when you clock in and doesn't dissipate until you leave at night, broken, resentful and totally without hope.
Yes, it's a horrible life, but hey, you did it on your own.
There's no telling how your career could have turned out if you had help along the way, but maybe it's not too late to put a message in a bottle and throw it into the job pool.
Of course, if you expect others to help you, you first have to learn to help yourself. That's where Dawn Graham comes in. She's the author of "Here's Why People Who Are Easy to Help Are More Successful," a recent post on Forbes.
"People want to help you," Graham writes, "but you'll always get better results when you do the work for them up front."
This may strike you as disappointing news. It's bad enough that your employer expects you to work; you really don't want to work for a bunch of strangers, as well. But if that's the price of changing the downward trajectory of what we laughingly call your career, you should consider Graham's five steps for making yourself as easy to help as you are easy to love.
"Send concise, targeted emails" is step No. 1. Forget including multiple attachments, though the results of your DNA test are always interesting. Considering that you sleep through most of the workday, is it really a surprise that you are .00001 percent koala?
Take special care in crafting your subject line. It often determines whether an email is opened. "Nigerian prince needs help investing two-million dollar windfall" just about always works.
Step No. 2 is to "be thorough." If you are asking for a phone consultation, "include the times you are available." This shouldn't be difficult:
8 a.m. to 10 a.m.: Breakfast cocktails at the Kit Kat Klub.
10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.: At work while online shopping, complaining and gossiping.
11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Lunch.
3 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Afternoon cocktails at the Kit Kat Klub.
Be sure to leave a window when you are available for a call. 10:30 a.m. to 10:35 a.m. every third Thursday should be more than adequate.
"Drive the process" is step No. 3. This means "offer to keep in touch, loop back, come to them or take the next step so they don't have to add another item to their to-do list."
Making follow-up phone calls is an excellent way to drive the process. I believe a reasonable frequency is five or six follow-up calls a day, until you finally get the help you need. Once you've had the help, don't stop those phone calls! It's a great way to show your appreciation.
"Respect their time" is step No. 4. You don't want to ask for information that is easily accessible on Google. On the other hand, checking with a professional is a great way to validate online results and show that you respect their opinion.
For example, if you are asking for help from a top executive in your company, show your commitment to fact-finding and your attention to detail.
"Hey, I looked out the window and it's raining down here on the third floor," you could text. "What's the weather like on 36?"
Step No. 5 is "know what you want." Dawn Graham encourages you to "get straight to the point." She also points out that "you must quickly establish credibility, connection and clarity, and it will be painfully obvious if you wing it."
This is why I recommend you don't hide behind emails and phone calls entirely. Show up at your targeted helper's front door and make your request face to face.
This is the best way to demonstrate your sincerity and your desperation. It doesn't hurt to rub your eyes with salad dressing — balsamic vinaigrette works best — a tip from Hollywood's finest weepers.
Explain that you've been crying and that's why your eyes are red and you smell like the salad bar at the Smorgy Bob's.
"I've been bingeing on croutons," you confess. "I need help."
See — I've helped you already, and you didn't even have to ask.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at [email protected] To find out more about Bob Goldman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.