We are living in the era of crowdsourcing, but still not very many people are good at asking for help or even accepting it when it is offered. Amanda Palmer, however, is no stranger to asking for help and accepting it.
In The Art of Asking she describes how she has asked for help from total strangers on three different occasions that have changed her life. This ‘The Art of Asking’ summary highlights the essential lessons passed across and some of her quotes.
The Art of Asking is basically the story of Amanda Palmer. She indicates her journey through acting as a bride in the streets, her music career with the Dresden Dolls a band she founded and her interactions with fans. The book is an extension of a TED Talk she had given earlier in 2013.
She felt that she needed to tell people more about the art of asking because she had only scratched the surface in the TED Talk. Amanda notes that many people are paralyzed in their lives and relationships because they are afraid of asking for help. It is why she decided to write the book to help those that feel like she used to before when she couldn’t accept money from her love Neil.
The Bride – Amanda Palmer is a free spirit kind of person and therefore after she graduated college she did not want a 9 to 5 job. It would tie her down. She liked art, and therefore she decided to do her own thing. She started acting on the streets of Boston where she was raised.
She would dress up like a bride, paint her face white like a statue and stand still on a crate to entertain passersby. She was making lots of many this way than she would make on a gig because she was also a musician.
During her time acting on the streets, Amanda learned that people are always willing to give and that people really do appreciate art. She also got to learn the difference between being seen and being looked at. When someone is able to “see you” they can gaze inside you and get to really get the connection with you.
When someone looks at you, there is no connection. She knew that the people giving to her art were seeing her, and therefore they had a level of compassion and empathy towards her.
The Dresden Dolls – after acting on the streets for several years, Amanda teamed up with a friend Brian Viglione and started a band called the Dresden Dolls which was a rock band. The band took a whole new approach to building a fan base which was led by Amanda.
She built an email list of fans that she used to send emails to regularly telling them about her life. She would use the emails for promoting the band but never had she commercialized her email list.
This made her loyal fan base grow. In the emails and on social media the Dresden Dolls would ask their fans to give them couch space, food and ask for volunteers. She also used to ask local musicians to open the stage for them. Because of learning to ask from the people the Dresden Dolls had very successful tours and shows.
Through her initiates and how she used to interact with her fans online, Amanda built a great community of loyal fans. She also taught other people how to look out after each other in her community because she wasn’t afraid to ask and people were always willing to help.
However, things went south with her record label when they asked her to stop promoting her music this way. They also asked for her mailing list to which she refused because she knew they would commercialize it and therefore lose the loyal fans.
The record label ditched the Dresden Dolls because she could not follow their directions. That did not stop Amanda.
The Kickstarter Album – from the Dresden Dolls, Amanda took her asking to the next level. She wanted to launch a solo album, and since she didn’t have so much money in the bank, she did what had never been done before. She went on Kickstarter, a crowdsourcing platform and decided to ask for help from “her crowd” raising the funds for her solo album.
Her goal on Kickstarter was only $100,000, but she ended up getting $1.2 M which was a record back then. She became famous as being the musician that raised a million dollars on Kickstarter. However, this also came with a lot of backlashes and hate from some people. She went on to produce her album and go on a tour to promote it.
The Kickstarter project did what it was supposed to for her, and she’s grateful to “her crowd” for it. She says “The Kickstarter exercise was hard proof that my community wanted to support my endeavors wholeheartedly (and blindly) because I pre-sold 25,000 copies of an album that nobody had heard.”
What I Like About the Book
I like the honesty that Amanda Palmer has written this book with. She is not afraid to state what she went through and how asking for help from total strangers boosted her career to what it is today. This level of honesty is not easy to get in a world where people are led by their egos.
Amanda is not afraid of being vulnerable to the entire world to teach the reader how to ask without judging yourself. I like that the book is written naturally without that expert –like writing where you are given steps to follow to get success. The Art of Asking is just a story of a person’s life where you get to draw your own lessons along the way.
Why You Should Read the Book
This book will assist you if you have been having trouble asking and accepting help. It is not a bad thing to ask for help when you genuinely need it. This book will help you to learn to accept that you might not always have everything you need; therefore you will need others in your journey to growth. It also teaches those who can give to be kind and fair to the people around them.