All You Have to Do Is Ask: How to Master the Most Important Skill for Success

December 24, 2019

By: Wayne Baker

All You Have to Do Is Ask: How to Master the Most Important Skill for Success

In All You Have to Do Is Ask: How to Master the Most Important Skill for Success (Currency/Random House; January 14, 2020), Wayne Baker deconstructs the art of making strategic asks in order to achieve your career objectives, grow high-performance teams, and create psychological safety at work – while helping others along the way. And when we overcome our reluctance to ask, amazing things – even miracles – can happen.

Baker reveals exactly how to make strategic asks that cultivate breakthroughs, solve problems, share knowledge, and bridge organizational silos, helping anyone to:

  • Leverage “SMART” criteria to frame how you make an ask and get the response and resources you’re seeking;
  • Use the “Reciprocity Ring” (a group activity allowing participants to tap the collective knowledge, wisdom, and resources of their network to obtain things they might need);
  • Make asks for help a personal and organizational habit with tools and strategies successfully implemented at Google, GM, IDEO, and many other companies;
  • Embed teams and organizations with collaborative cultures of reciprocity and generosity to unlock the power of giving-receiving cycles;
  • Teach managers how to create psychologically safe workplaces to build high-performance teams, and
  • Learn how asking is the key to giving – at work, at home or anywhere in your life.

Defying the age-old adage “It is better to give than to receive,” Baker believes that giving and receiving are equally critical keys to success. In fact, he contends the primary skill standing between us and success is the ability to ask for the things we need to succeed. And individuals, teams, and organizations can be more successful by giving and receiving, applying proven practices to help anyone ask for, give, and receive help.

To this end, the book provides a set of tools for mastering these skills, with dozens of break-through activities and templates, including a quick scientific self-assessment tool to help you find out where you stand in terms of asking and giving, and how you compare to others on these scales; it can be taken at

The secret to a culture of contribution is giving yourself (and others) permission to ask. It is also the starting point that initiates the process of giving and receiving in the workplace. Baker considers asking for help the essential ingredient in the exchange of resources across our personal, business, and professional networks. Applying tools like the reciprocity ring, you can discover what doors you can open for others, and have the same done for you.

To achieve your key goals, you first need to master the “SMART” strategic ask, defined as:

  • Specific – details trigger people’s memory of what and who they know, and how they can help;
  • Meaningful – conveys why the request is important to you, motivates others to respond;
  • Action-Oriented – a call-to-action to achieve your goal;
  • Realistic – request must be strategically sound, feasible;
  • Time-Bound – every request should have a due date.

Exploring the “Law of Giving and Receiving,” Baker identifies the four key profiles and styles of giving and asking, including:

  • Overly Generous Giver – admired for good deeds but often fail to express what they need, missing out on ideas, opportunities, and other resources they need to be successful;
  • Selfish Taker – so self-focused that they rarely repay the generosity bestowed on them;
  • Lone Wolf – individualists who value self-reliance, but rarely seek or offer help; and
  • Giver-Requesters – by giving help, they earn a reputation for generosity; by seeking it, they receive the things they need to succeed.

While Baker encourages readers to ask which profile best defines them, he notes these traits are not inborn, but rather choices you can make about how you wish to operate in the world.

All You Have to Do Is Ask provides the powerful tools and resources that today’s best leaders need to transform their teams and organizations into generous cultures of contribution – where asking for help is a secret weapon leading to everyone’s collective success.

Follow All You Have to Do Is Ask on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.