I love this video of a university student Michael Pollack having the guts to ask Billy Joel if he could accompany the legendary singer on the piano. Joel was speaking at Vanderbilt University when Pollack used the Q&A session to ask what many would never dare.
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It takes chutzpah and confidence to do this. But it achieved a great result. Not only did Pollack get to accompany his idol, he did it brilliantly. And the Youtube video has been viewed over 2.5 million times so far (the incident occurred in March 2013).
However, I also think it’s important to have a good balance of boldness backed up with the goods. Imagine if Pollack asked the big question, got on stage and did a terrible job. It would have been humiliating.
Sure, someone people might argue that the act of asking is kudos enough. But any idiot can put their hand up for a job.
If you’re going to do that, make sure you can deliver.
I know this seems to fly in the face of many articles and comments about the fact that men often ask even when they don’t necessarily have the goods to deliver. And women wait till their over-qualified before they even consider vying for a role or opportunity.
I’m not arguing with that. I completely agree that women needs to take more risks, grasp more opportunities and put their hands up for more gigs – just like Pollack – even when they don’t feel fully ready. The difference is that I believe that women (and men) should then prepare like hell to make sure that opportunity is not wasted.
It pains me when I see people lobby to get coveted speaking gigs – and then do a terrible job. They do themselves a disservice and they disrespect their audience at the same time.
If you find yourself with an opportunity – go for it. But then work like hell to make it count.