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Writing Your Way to Success with Dr. Donald Asher

The Randal Osché Podcast: Season 1 | Episode 11

Join us on The Randall Osché Podcast as Randall we interview Dr. Donald Asher, an internationally recognized author and speaker on careers and higher education. Dr. Asher shares his journey from facing early job application failures to becoming an executive coach and author. Discover the crucial roles of education and work in shaping professional paths and the importance of essential soft skills in today's job market.

What You'll Learn:

  • Dr. Asher's insights on the value of persistence and how it can influence career success.

  • Effective strategies for young professionals on building essential skills such as writing, argumentation, and independent working.

  • Dr. Asher gives practical advice on navigating career challenges with adaptability and deliberate action.

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyYoutubePodcast Index, Podcasts AddictAmazon Music, or on your favorite podcast platform.

Find Dr. Donald Asher Here:

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Book Recommendations:


  • Embrace Failure as a Learning Tool: Dr. Asher's career began with numerous job application failures, demonstrating that setbacks can lead to valuable opportunities.

  • Take Deliberate Action: Any action, even imperfect, is more beneficial than remaining inactive.

  • Value Persistence and Tenacity: Consistent effort and perseverance, such as repeatedly contacting a publisher, often lead to success.

  • Importance of Soft Skills: Essential skills like writing, constructing arguments, and working independently are often undervalued but critical.

  • The Evolving Value of a College Degree: While degrees help filter job applicants, practical experience and skills are equally crucial for career success.


What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments!

And that's it for today's conversation here on the Randall Osché podcast. Thank you so much for joining us and we hope that you've enjoyed listening as much as we've enjoyed recording it.

Many many thanks to our guests today for sharing their knowledge, their experience and their life lessons. If you found today's conversation insightful, interesting, inspiring, please join our growing community by subscribing. Randall Osché podcast on your favorite podcast platform, and never ever miss another episode.

 We'd love to hear your feedback. So keep the community alive by sharing your takeaways from today's episode and use the hashtag Randall O'Shea podcast. Your feedback and interaction fuels our continued efforts to build a safe space for meaningful, long form conversations. So thank you so much for the support until next time, stay curious, stay inspired and keep the conversation going.

The Randall Osché Podcast - Donald Asher (Episode 11)

[00:00:00] Randall: Don Asher, welcome to this show. For those of the listeners who don't know you yet, why don't you go ahead and take a quick moment and introduce yourself.

[00:00:07] Don: Well, Randall you know me, but other people may not. So again, it's Dr. Donald Asher. I'm author of 12 books on careers in higher education. I consider myself a career guy. And I studied that juncture between education and the career marketplace, that jumping off point. So end of grad school, end of college, getting into grad school.

[00:00:29] Don: So you might call it anything that looks like a bridge from education to the real world. So I do that. I travel and give lectures at colleges and universities. I'm on the road about 150 days a year. 

[00:00:41] Randall: Oh, wow. We're going to come back to 150 days a year, but How did you get started down this career field?

[00:00:49] Don: Well, I'm glad you asked that, Randall, because I think that sometimes in particular college students feel like they can't make a mistake. So they are hesitant actually to make a decision because they're afraid of making a mistake. And the United States is the land of second chances. So you can start out in this direction and change your mind, go this direction and change your field.

[00:01:11] Don: Stop out and raise kids for nine years and then get back into the career marketplace. You can go to jail for five years, get out, get back into the career marketplace. So I think in telling my story about how I got started, you know, give somebody a chance to think, well, maybe it was a good time to go ahead and try that thing I want to do.

[00:01:30] Don: There's no better time to try an ideal idea than right after college. So I was going to be a novelist. That was what I told myself all the way through high school and college. And I got out of college and went to live with my grandmother who had an actual Garrett. I mean, it was a cliche. I was up in this Garrett underneath the rafters writing really bad stories and mostly not writing.

[00:01:56] Don: So I did this just long enough to be absolutely sure that I had failed. So luckily I failed kind of right away, about six months. Instead of people that bump along against an idea like that for years. So at six months in, I said, this didn't work. So I'm unusual in the career field in that it's the only thing I've ever done.

[00:02:17] Don: I moved to Seattle, was living with a friend of mine. And trying to find work. And so I failed at finding work so spectacularly that I had over a hundred attempted job applications and zero interviews. I never even got an interview, Randall. Not even an interview. So I had 100 resumes. That were different for 100 different opportunities I had found.

[00:02:42] Don: so I'm, reading the Seattle times and in the one ads, this was a long time ago, and I saw an ad that said writer who can manage, and I thought writer who can manage. So I had steadfastly avoided anything to do with management or business. Cause my dad was an executive and an entrepreneur.

[00:02:59] Don: And so I was going to be obviously a poet and novelist. So I called that number and it was a resume service that wrote resumes for executives. And I thought, Oh my goodness, I didn't even know that existed. So I went out to see the guy and I covered up his entire desk. With my resumes and I had always worked because I liked to work so I'd always done like side jobs and I worked in college and different kinds of things.

[00:03:25] Don: I ran a building for a while. I was a carpenter for a while. All while going to school, so I covered up his desk and I said, all of these resumes are different and all of these resumes are true. And so I know that I can do this job and he looked at me and he said, I really can't use you. I was really taken aback by that because it was so direct.

[00:03:46] Don: And I said, why? And he said, you're just too young. Nobody's going to believe in you. I can't put you in an office with an executive and hope everything will work out. So I was so disappointed. I said, look, I came to your office. I said, you know, just look at my stuff. And if you still don't want me, that's fine.

[00:04:03] Don: So he said, okay, give them to me for overnight. So the next morning he called me and he said these are good and they're so different. And I think you really can do this job. And so he gave me that job. And now the point about this is that my first job was helping people, my first professional post college job.

[00:04:19] Don: Was a job helping people get jobs that the only reason I got that job was because I had spectacularly failed at the whole process. I mean, over a hundred times. So that's how I got started in the career business. Cause I could write and I knew business from my dad. I mean, we had business for dinner every night.

[00:04:37] Don: So that part was really not difficult and the writing was okay. Switching from novels to business actually suited me very well. I liked that kind of writing better and I was good at it. 

[00:04:48] Randall: I would say that you're good at writing as well after reading a few of your books. A lot to unpack there, Don.

[00:04:53] Randall: Um, So right when you got started, you were talking about, indecision, right? Early on in my career, before I started working with you I was a professional working for a bank, I was trying to make, everything perfect. And then one of my supervisors had a conversation with me, and he didn't, point this out directly because he was terrible, but, it got me thinking.

[00:05:14] Randall: And then one of the, historical figures that I like to read about was Teddy Roosevelt, and there's this Teddy Roosevelt quote I wanted to mention. And it says in any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The next best thing is the wrong thing. And the worst thing you can do is nothing.

[00:05:32] Randall: So 

[00:05:33] Don: I've never heard that. And I love that. Wow. 

[00:05:36] Randall: Yeah, same. It was like, boom, because you got to do it. You're not gonna make any progress, not doing anything. And right. Progress is the name of the game. 

[00:05:45] Randall: The other thing I wanted to ask about, I think this is a unique situation sometimes, right?

[00:05:51] Randall: It's a sort of player versus coach and you had started your career as a career coach. I mean, is that how you would. Define it when you got started right. Resume writer. 

[00:06:04] Don: I was helping executives organize their place in their career and what they needed to sell to get to the next level and then whether they had that thing.

[00:06:14] Don: So yes, right away. But the writing skills was what I was providing, but the counseling about where they were and where they needed to go was where the value came from. 

[00:06:25] Randall: Yeah. So after not being an executive, you were helping executives get other executive roles or be better executives, right?

[00:06:33] Don: I just channeled my dad. I mean, literally I just, what would dad do? And it was right, overwhelmingly. So you get an education at home, but no matter what you study in school, you get an education at home. Luckily I paid attention. I probably didn't realize I was paying attention.

[00:06:49] Don: I probably didn't have any choice either, but it came into play. 

[00:06:52] Randall: Another thing I find interesting. There's this other book I read that I forget who the author is, but Talent is overrated I think is the proper title. And my biggest takeaway from the book, and I started to think about talent and skill and people's ability differently after this is That, I now mostly believe, I'm not 100 percent of the way there yet, but, I used to believe in, God gifted ability, athletes, professional athletes were professional athletes because they were just born with better genes than, everybody else, to an extent, you know, the person A with the better genes versus person B with inferior genes, if they put in the same amount of work, the person A is still going to always be a superior athlete, right?

[00:07:35] Randall: But this book really got me thinking that's not really true. There's the principle of 10, 000 hours, and I think it's an Erickson studycorrect me if I'm wrong about that, but you get to certain levels because you put in the work. I think a good example is people who are perceived to have charisma, right?

[00:07:51] Randall: They're like, Oh, this person is just charismatic. they were born this way. This is their personality. But more than likely they had say a father who was in sales who just was extroverted and they grew up around people who were extroverted and that's how they operated. So they adopted that operating system.

[00:08:09] Randall: They had unknowingly. Then learning these behaviors over a period of time from one year old to 18 years old. 

[00:08:19] Don: Some of your 10, 000 hours can take place at home. Yeah, that's right. 

[00:08:22] Randall: Yeah, so like you were getting your education, just paying attention to your father and that's helped you in your first professional endeavor, right?

[00:08:29] Don: Correct. Correct. And so the key to that 10, 000 hours is, it's a subtle key, but it's an important one. If you like something, you'll do it more. If you like something, you'll go in early, you'll stay late. If you like something, you'll invest your own money. And training, if you like something, you'll take a book about it with you on vacation.

[00:08:49] Don: So part of that 10, 000 hours, it's not grinding it out because some people interpret that a different way, which is like, if I spend 10, 000 hours playing golf, I'll get better at it. Probably you will, but not as much as if you really liked golf because not only do the 10, 000 hours happen faster, they have been easier and better.

[00:09:08] Don: And so it is the time. And of course it is the genes. You know, you can't make a track star out of somebody that's not got the potential. Right. But a winning track star and a not winning track star, the difference is do they have the right mental attitude and do they put in the time?

[00:09:23] Don: Yeah. So it's a mix, but you're right. It talent by itself counts little. It'll get you kind of started, but it won't get you to the finish line. 

[00:09:32] Randall: Agreed. Another point about, a nuance of the 10, 000 hours is say you were passionate about golf. It's not investing 10, 000 hours of becoming a better golfer.

[00:09:42] Don: It's about investing 10, 000 hours and fixing your swing or your stance. It's about taking deliberate action to fix the things that are going to get you better and not this vague sense of, I want to become a better athlete. I want to become a better golfer? It's like, I need to get better at this thing of doing this. Yeah. I want, to get better at these pieces apart. Yeah. 

[00:10:04] Randall: So another, question I had from that is, you said you always worked and I've always worked too. Then I went to college, I worked through college, but one of the things I think I grew up around is my parents were hard workers.

[00:10:16] Randall: So me and my siblings have phenomenal work ethics in my opinion. But, what's your value system look like for work versus education? Or both, right? If you say you're assessing talent and somebody has a bachelor's degree or an MBA, but then there's this other person who might have the same, but has worked or might not have any degree, but has the chops and has done the work and has experience and has developed this other set of skills.

[00:10:42] Don: Well,you introduced d a very complex question, Randall. Very, very complex question. So, young people don't work anymore. The minimum wage is not kept up at all with the expenses even that teenagers have. And it's not really in their minds worth their time to work for $8 an hour. It's just not worth their time.

[00:11:03] Don: And so they don't actually work. You know, when I was in high school, it was normal to work. I worked cause I was bored. School didn't take me. You know, it didn't take me 20 hours a week. And so I had a lot of time. I was like, I'm going to go out and get a job. So I did. And it was fun. It gave me spending money.

[00:11:18] Don: My parents took care of us, but they didn't give us money the way people do today, you know, my daughter would just walk in and say, dad, give me 20 and I would give her 20 and I never kept track of it. I realized later it was a lot more than I thought. But so I've worked and here's where I'm going with this.

[00:11:33] Don: Y ou learn things in those early jobs that when people don't have those early jobs, they're missing. You learn how to show up on time. You learn to subjugate your pleasures for someone else's. You learn not to contradict your boss in front of other people. You learn how to be on a team. You learn how to not call out members of your team in a way that throws them under the bus.

[00:11:59] Don: You learn how to dress. So all of these things are what you get from those customer service. I mean, even blue collar work, you get all this stuff. And so when you start your first job after college, you've got this body of knowledge about how to be a worker that young people, they are missing.

[00:12:18] Don: So work, I think is valuable. And by the way, the elite schools are starting to look at this too. So rather than volunteering in a soup kitchen, go down and get a job at Kentucky fried chicken. So that actually, at least they're saying this, it's important to know that elite schools sometimes say one thing and do another.

[00:12:37] Don: They're saying that they're looking at this as a very different. Kind of qualification for top schools. So I think work has value in and of itself. Now, you brought up another question, which is the value of the college degree. The problem with a college degree is that the warrant has pretty much failed.

[00:12:56] Don: So you cannot guarantee me that somebody with a college degree can write a memo that will not be completely full of errors, can answer the phone in my office without embarrassing me and my company. You cannot tell me that someone with a college degree can go to a meeting with a client and know when to speak and when to stand back and how to hold their body.

[00:13:16] Don: So you can't convince me of that. And so the warrant of a college degree is weakened. But here's the problem. Randall, this is what happens. I'm going to hire somebody and I know that no matter how I try to hire somebody, I'm going to end up with a stack between 100 and 10, 000 resumes and I need a way to get that stack.

[00:13:36] Don: Let's use the smaller number from 100 to 10 really viable ones, and I'm probably going to really think about calling 3 or 4 of these people, interviewing 3 of them, making a final decision on 1 of them. I need a way to get from 100 to 10, and the easiest way in the world is just to put educational credentials in there to reduce that pile.

[00:13:56] Don: And so, even though you can make an argument that's true. The argument is true that work experience can easily equal the quality of college today, because I think the quality of college is weakened and not only is the warrant weekend, but the product itself is weakened. But in spite of all that, I want to get from 100 to 10 without actually evaluating people's skill set by analyzing the work they've been doing. And so that's the problem. 

[00:14:22] Don: So. Here's how I look at it. It's a flawed system, but it's the system we have. And so when people say, oh, you don't have to go to college, they never give that advice to their own kids.

[00:14:31] Don: They only give that advice to other taxpayers kids. So they don't want to pay taxes for your kid to go to school, but you better believe that they'll reach deep into their own pocket to send their own kids to school. So that's a kind of a long winded answer to your question. I think you need both.

[00:14:46] Randall: Yeah, thank you for parsing out that question to make the most sense of it, but great answer. So I would agree, like my first job was in a restaurant, I was a dishwasher, and then I graduated, if you want to put it that way, to cook, because the other cook that they hired was terrible, so I was a dishwasher for three weeks, it was miserable but then I was a cook, and then I cooked in restaurants through college, and then, part time jobs here and there and fine dining.

[00:15:09] Randall: So I've gone from working at a bonanza to cooking at a fine dining restaurant. But in that experience. I agree with you. I developed these skills to not try to contradict my boss, which like, Hey, like still working on that one uh, how did it have consequences for that?

[00:15:27] Randall: It's a better to get dismissed from a job where you're making five 15 an hour. Then have to pay your mortgage with your own salary. But yeah, it's been my experience that the people my peers at the time, right, that were doing the same thing and going to school and developing those skills, as well as the education, I think that the, I don't put it as working folks, people that had any jobs, but like, I think that people in hospitality, because that's my experience.

[00:15:53] Randall: that use that as a stepping stone are superior people. I think it's because, especially in hospitality, no, I haven't yet defined. I think, As far as maybe demeanor, the things that you could do and say on a construction site are very similar to the things you can do and say in a restaurant that can get you fired immediately from any corporate situation that I've been a part of.

[00:16:17] Randall: And I think that's good and bad. One, you get to learn and figure out how to deal with all of that. And if you don't work like you said, then you never experience that and then the first time that you're faced with any sort of adversity or, you know, interpersonal relationship issues is day one after you graduated your first job and that's not probably the ideal time to learn.

[00:16:39] Don: But the problem is once you make significant mistakes at work in a professional position. You're not trusted and you will not advance and so you want to not make those mistakes in a corporate setting in a professional setting, a knowledge worker setting because you can't back up and fix it and maybe.

[00:16:58] Don: In the restaurant, you're late, they dress you down, you learn that it hurts to be late, maybe your boss convinces you that you're letting down the team when you're late it causes you to realize that that's something that people value but if you have to be taught that in the setting that's corporate, they're not going to forgive you.

[00:17:17] Don: I don't think you're going to come back from that. You can keep working there at that level, but as I said, you're not going to be trusted. You're not going to be advanced. You're not going to be promoted unless you have a very forgiving boss. And frankly, bosses are not that forgiving.

[00:17:29] Randall: I think a good point to ask this question, what skills do you think are most undervalued in today's job market? 

[00:17:36] Don: Well, I think that there's a set of skills that are valued and people generally don't have them. Writing is a skill that is difficult to teach and difficult to learn. It takes years to become an effective writer.

[00:17:49] Don: People who call themselves writers are really apprenticing into the role. It takes a long time to be a good writer and businesses value it a great deal. So if you can, especially if you can write for release, and this is something that people cannot do. Okay. So a friend of mine's in advertising.

[00:18:09] Don: And she says that they simply have a list of people who can write for release and people who cannot. And the thing that she says about the ones who can write for release, they're older. They took grammar in high school. They took grammar in college and no one does that anymore. They write from feel.

[00:18:27] Don: And that may be okay for most usages, but it's not okay for a business to send stuff out that people feel great about that is actually erroneous. So writing would be one. Another one is to construct an argument. So if you make a presentation, you should be trying to persuade somebody.

[00:18:46] Don: Otherwise, you shouldn't be making the presentation. So you're trying to persuade them to do something differently or think differently. And so that's constructing an argument being able to use of all simple things, a PowerPoint being able to customize. Your message to the audience and also being able to change in the middle of your presentation.

[00:19:08] Don: So in the middle of your presentation, the boss says I don't care about the end users. I want you to tell me what you can do for my engineers. And so maybe your whole presentation was about how wonderful you could help end users and suddenly you have to switch and start doing a technical presentation.

[00:19:23] Don: That ability to switch is extremely part of communicating. So, so far I've said writing and persuading are two things that are extremely important. And then there's another thing that's hard to talk about, which is the ability to take an assignment and do it without a lot of instruction. So it's something that's, got so many moving parts to it.

[00:19:47] Don: So I'll give you an example from early in my career. I did a white paper on the meanings of the words natural and organic in different states in the United States. And so that was my assignment. And so that's all the instructions that I got was we need a white paper that really looks at the legal regulatory and popular meanings of organic and natural in different states in the United States and federally.

[00:20:12] Don: And so I did it. But that's all the guidance I got. And so I think that you can have this a little bit just by your nature of being brave and also be willing to make mistakes and be willing to go out and go down a blind alley and get to the end and say, Oh, my goodness, this doesn't come out anywhere useful.

[00:20:29] Don: But if I were advising somebody on a skill to pick up is the ability to take an assignment and figure out how to scope it. Structure it, experiment with it. Conduct it and report it without a lot of guidance. Is that the type of stuff you were thinking about, Randall? 

[00:20:44] Randall: Yeah, absolutely. I got a couple questions.

[00:20:47] Randall: For writing, you said write for release. What does that mean? 

[00:20:50] Don: It means that that can go into a document or a product description that's released to the general public. So, it's writing advertising, it's writing signage, it's writing, official letters. Anything that actually leaves the boundary of the corporate setting and goes to some other place and so that's writing for release. 

[00:21:10] Randall: Excellent. And then to construct for argument, what's the biggest thing that people get wrong about that? 

[00:21:17] Don: The biggest thing they get wrong is they forget to write the argument for the audience. So they write the argument, they'll say, what's my best argument?

[00:21:24] Don: Well, that's irrelevant. What will my Audience care about the most. So you really construct arguments in the second person. So it's not you that the argument is for it's them. And so you have to think about what they care about. So you construct your argument based on the audience.

[00:21:40] Don: Arguments have a structural integrity of their own. But. The most effective argument is always focused on the needs and concerns of the audience, not yours. 

[00:21:50] Randall: And then, final question on this part. That was very well said. I'm impressed that, you just went through that and made a ton of sense.

[00:21:57] Randall: I'm like, yeah, I would agree with that. But how do you realize it's those three things? 

[00:22:02] Don: Part of it is I read of the surveys of employers that are released every year by NACE, National Association of Colleges and Employers, and part of it is I talk to mid level professionals all day, every day, and I hear what their concerns are, in particular around hiring.

[00:22:21] Don: So I guess it's just a body of knowledge. I get in aggregate from conducting myself in my career. 

[00:22:27] Randall: Thank you. 

[00:22:28] Randall: So earlier on, you said you were a failed writer. I want to get into the writing part of your career. When you say failed after doing it for six months, why would you say that?

[00:22:38] Randall: Why did you consider it a failure? And at what point did you decide I've failed? 

[00:22:43] Don: Well, creative writing that you might do in high school and college, poems and stories, you're comparing yourself to the other people in the class. And then if you want to go do that for a living or do it full time, whether you get paid a lot or not, it's not perhaps the point.

[00:23:01] Don: You're immediately competing in a very different pool. So, you may have been highly regarded in the writing class, but you couldn't get somebody to read three pages of what you've written at an actual publisher. And so I was not any good. I just failed to build fascinating sentences that were evocative and would cause you to want to read the next paragraph of the following page and the next chapter.

[00:23:29] Don: So I was able to see that I was no good. Now, people who train writers would tell you, well, you just need to do that for 10 more years. Oh, I didn't have the patience for that, Randall. I wasn't going to do it for 10 years. And even then it may still have failed. I wanted something with a little bit faster feedback, a faster chance of being good at it.

[00:23:50] Don: And so the writing resumes was about constructing arguments for an audience. It was easier for me to do than writing stories, where you have to let a story develop. And the format was really short. So you were succeeding and failing in one to three pages. And I could handle that. I liked that. I mean, it was, it was really fast.

[00:24:12] Don: The writing was fast. Clients feedback was immediate. You meet with them and they would go, Oh my gosh, I never thought of it this way. And it was gratifying. Ego gratifying to hear that really immediate positive feedback, whereas people who write stories and novels will work for a year on something, send it off to a bunch of publishers, wait six to eight weeks and longer, sometimes six months, to get back a little note that says, this is not what we want.

[00:24:39] Don: I don't know. I like immediate feedback. I did have some skill at writing, but I did not have any skill at writing stories and novels. 

[00:24:46] Randall: So repetition and feedback, and then the faster you get that, the faster you get better. 

[00:24:51] Don: Yeah, but also I wasn't writing stories, I was writing arguments. 

[00:24:54] Don: Resume's an argument.

[00:24:56] Randall: Yeah. So at this point you've written several books, twelve? Did I have that number correct? 

[00:25:01] Don: I've written twelve books, and I've written over ten thousand resumes. 

[00:25:05] Randall: Oh jeez, I didn't know the resume part. So, of the books you've authored what does your writing process look like? And then how do you pick a subject that you want to write about?

[00:25:15] Don: I'm going to tell you the truth, Randall. 

[00:25:17] Randall: I love your truths. 

[00:25:18] Don: I'm going to tell you the truth. And then I'm going to tell you what I would tell an editor. The truth is that I collect content for as much as a year and a half and throw it in a box. And so at the end of that year, every idea that goes in that book is probably in that box.

[00:25:38] Don: And then I always sell my writing before I write it. I don't write books and then shop them around. It's just not my personality. So I want to know it's sold. So then you have to make a pitch. And a pitch is a treatment of how this book would fall into the marketplace and a table of contents in a first chapter.

[00:25:58] Don: That's what a pitch is. And so I will do that without writing one word more than that. And then if they take it, then I will usually procrastinate. So let's say I have four months to write it. One book I wrote, it's one of the better ones I've written. I didn't start it until after it was due.

[00:26:16] Don: Didn't even start it until after it was due. But I have to tell you that doesn't work anymore, Randall. Back in the day, publishing was loose. I actually sold a book one time by drawing what the cover might look like. And my publisher like, Oh yeah, I kind of like that. Okay. We'll go with that. Those publishers are out of business and so now they're all corporate.

[00:26:36] Don: And so you can't do those things anymore. So I have gotten religion and I turn in a manuscripts on the deadline now. And I had to changeI enjoyed my old method. It was exciting, but now I set the deadline and crank out one or two pages a day until I hit the deadline. And so I'm what you might call reformed, but I had a lot of fun back in the day.

[00:27:00] Don: We used to do a lot of crazy stuff. I sold my first book. I went to a talk where Dick Bowles was going to be the speaker and he had written a book called What Color Is Your Parachute, which is the best selling career book in all of history. And I cornered him at break and I said, Hey, Dick, who's your publisher down at Tenspeed?

[00:27:19] Don: And, you know, who's your editor? He told me, and I said, Oh, great. And he said, why do you ask? I said, well, I've got a book I think they might like. And he said, oh, well, they don't take pitches unless the book is ready and I didn't have the book ready. And I had told him that. So I ignored him. I went home and I wrote to his editor and I said, Dick Bowles suggested that I reach out to you directly with my idea for a book.

[00:27:40] Don: And here it is. And he ignored it. Okay. Absolutely ignored it. So, no response to that query whatsoever. So,I waited until a reasonable amount of time had passed, and I decided that I didn't get an audience that I wanted, and I knew I had to write stuff, and I knew I had a good book. So, I printed it all out again, didn't mention the fact that I already sent it to him.

[00:28:01] Don: Rolled it up uh, kind of a kind of a silver paper and I rolled it up and I tied it with a silver ribbon and I got a construction tube and I put it in the construction tube you know, for construction plans. So it's, yellow striping around it. Warning signs but the most important thing was it would rattle because I had tied that up with a ribbon and so that thing would rattle back and forth inside this tube and then I hired a kid to take it over there and deliver it by hand because I was in San Francisco and they were in Alameda, California and so the kid took it over there and I had to Prepped him.

[00:28:36] Don: I said, I gave him a big tip in advance. I said, you got to put it on his desk. You're failing me if you get stopped at the front desk. So I called him later and he said, yeah, I just bolted past and said, I'm supposed to put this on. I don't want to say his name, but anyway, this guy's desk. So he did. And so I was so proud of myself.

[00:28:54] Don: I sat back and I thought, okay, he's going to call me now, right then. He didn't call me. And so I waited about five days and then I began to call him every single day. I called him every day and said, have you had a chance to look at my proposal? It came in the construction tube every day. I did this. I called him seven days in a row, which is, you know, you're into two weeks now to do that.

[00:29:15] Don: And on one of those days, he answered the phone and I was shocked. And he, said so where are you at with this? We're interested. I said, well, I have you know, I have an outline. I have a first chapter and, and stuff. And he, that was not in the proposal part. All I had was a treatment and he said, well, we'd like to look at those.

[00:29:34] Don: And I said, okay, yeah, no problem at all. I haven't looked at him in a while, so maybe I could send him over on Monday. And he said, oh yeah, that'd be great. So I didn't have a word of it written. By the way, so I wrote it. I wrote the outline and the first chapter and send it over to him on Monday.

[00:29:51] Don: And I thought he's going to call me. Well, he didn't call me. And so I waited about three days and then I began to call him every day. And on about the fifth or seventh day, he picked up the phone again and said, we like it. And we want you to come over and we'll talk about a contract. So I went over and got a contract.

[00:30:07] Don: Now, the point about this whole story is that was about four and a half million dollars ago. The relationship that I've had with my publishers is worth that. And so if I had not called that guy over and over again, very politely once a day, I wouldn't have made that four and a half million dollars.

[00:30:24] Don: They wouldn't have made millions of dollars. And we wouldn't be having this conversation. So, there's a lot going on in that story. So, but I don't bluff anymore. And, you know, these days I just do what I say I'm going to do and hit the deadlines. It's, it's less interesting. And not as good a story. 

[00:30:39] Randall: I like the story.

[00:30:40] Randall: I'm making mental notes because I as well want to write a book. 

[00:30:44] Randall: So, couple follow up questions there.

[00:30:47] Randall: I know some people are intimidated to pick up the phone. I think especially now. Ten years ago, people were afraid to pick up the phone and call people. Today, I think it's gotten worse. But if you hadn't picked up the phone and called him, I'm assuming, They were interested, because if they did pick up the phone and they weren't interested, they would have told you to go pound salt.

[00:31:04] Randall: But, they were interested, but they weren't being proactive to reach out to you. Right. So, what are your thoughts around that, right? I mean, in my mind, again, I'm thinking, there's the publisher, there's the editor, they see something. That they're interested in, but they're not compelled to be like, Oh, we're going to reach out the, you know, Donald Asher to get more details about this, but it was through your persistence that connected those dots.

[00:31:31] Randall: So what are your thoughts around that? 

[00:31:32] Don: Well, you don't have to be charming, but you do have to do the work. so I'm headed somewhere here. You gotta, if you can't call people and I recognize that a lot of people, they're just not operating that way. You got to email people once a day, every day, over and over again.

[00:31:47] Don: But when email fails, then you have to take it up a notch. So I think you end up the same place. This is the difference between marketing and sales. Marketing is about getting people to want your product. And sales is about making people buy it today. And so they're not the same. And so people are good at marketing.

[00:32:06] Don: But they can't take that final step and be good at sales. So I think a tremendous amount of success boils down to, are you willing to do that one extra thing? I'll give you a weird example. I had a student who wanted to work for Charles Schwab and you could see Charles Schwab building for my building in San Francisco.

[00:32:25] Don: And I said, okay, well, I'll get you a job over there. And he was startled that I said that he said, I've been trying to get a job over there for a year since I graduated from college and I said, oh, no, no, I'm going to do it and so here's what we did. I said, the market opens at 6:30 West Coast.

[00:32:43] Don: And there's going to be a stream of people going into that building at 6 a. m. because I'd seen them and I said, you're going to go down there and you're going to stand in that stream of people. You can't go in the building because the first thing you run into is a turnstile. And I said, you're going to give people this letter and this resume of yours, and you're going to get a job over there.

[00:33:02] Don: And so the letter said, after you get up to your office and you look at this, I will still be downstairs. Call me because I want to work at Charles Schwab. I think Charles Schwab's model is the model that we should all be using for investments. They're so honorable and they help the average investor get ahead in their lives.

[00:33:18] Don: Nothing would mean more to me than to contribute to the success. Of individual investors using the model that Charles Schwab has developed. Okay. So he went over there, he gave out resumes today, first day, nothing happened. So he comes over to my office and he says, nothing happened. I said, you thought it would happen on the first day.

[00:33:34] Don: They're going to test you. They're going to see if you're still down there in five days and seven days and 10 days. And he said, wow, so I got to get up. Print out all this stuff, go down there and stand there at 5 45 a. m. Every day. And I said, yeah, that's what's going to take third day. Someone called him and he works for Charles Swap even to this day.

[00:33:52] Randall: I love the story. I love your creative approaches. 

[00:33:56] Randall: You said you were speaker at an event. So it's something else in your career that you do or have done. I continue to do, I suppose. So how did you become a public speaker?

[00:34:05] Don: Well, that's, that's a really good story too. That's a good question. And it has a good answer. I became a speaker because of an accounting rule at my publishers. So I went over to my publisher and I said, I want you to buy this book, but I want you to give me an advance so I can go around and do the research.

[00:34:22] Don: It's going to require travel to a lot of major cities. And they said, well, we don't have a budget line to give you an advance on research. And we don't even know what the book is yet. Your last book is doing well, and we have a budget line for promotions. So if you want to go on tour and promote your last book, we'll pay for that.

[00:34:42] Don: You just have to give lectures and then you can spend the evening or whatever doing the research that you want to do. So I literally became a public speaker because of an accounting rule. At my publishers. Most writers are not speakers. They work in the back. No one ever sees them. I was used to that.

[00:34:59] Don: But what happened was I sent out an announcement that I would talk at colleges and universities on how to get into graduate school because that was the last book I had published. And I got an overwhelming response. I was out of the road for six weeks talking about this. I didn't even have time to do the research that I was supposed to be doing, but I discovered that I really liked being on stage and I liked.

[00:35:21] Don: This is going to sound weird. I like the process. That speaking refines your thinking. You really don't know a topic until you teach it, and then you do know it. And so I found that teaching lectures, workshops, really helped me hone my thoughts about a topic, any topic, especially if you do it over and over again.

[00:35:41] Don: So if you develop a lecture, you get that lecture one time, that's okay. But I'm talking about doing something over and over again with audiences, interactive, where you see how it resonates with that group. But the root answer to your question is, I became a public speaker because of an accounting rule at my publishers.

[00:36:00] Don: And I think people need to realize that there's a lot of chance in the development of a career. You just have to keep your eyes open. Maybe you're doing something and somebody says, do you want to go to X and be in a trade show about this product? Always say yes, is what I tell people. And then on the plane, you can figure out how you're going to do it.

[00:36:19] Randall: I would agree. And you still do, because of that, chance moment. That's why you spend 150 days on the road. 

[00:36:26] Don: I know! 

[00:36:27] Don: I know! It's my main business. Yeah. 

[00:36:30] Randall: That's awesome. What is what book have you written that has made you the most money? 

[00:36:36] Don: Graduate admissions essays. Yeah. 

[00:36:38] Randall: Interesting. 

[00:36:39] Don: Yeah. That owns its niche and has for years and years and years. 

[00:36:43] Don: The book that got the best reviews is Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn't, and Why? 12 Things You Better Do If You Want to Advance in Your Career. And that's a book that I wrote based upon 20 years of working with a fast track executive. So a fast track executive is someone who gets promoted every year at the most every 18 months.

[00:37:03] Don: And so that was my clientele and I watched them. And used basic social science techniques to refine and extract from them what they did differently than other people, and put it into that book, Who Gets Promoted. 

[00:37:17] Randall: I'm glad you brought that up, because that's how I discovered you. I was, in my career, at a pivotal moment, I've put in my 10, 000 hours, I've developed myself, I'm not the same professional that I was like, you know, years ago.

[00:37:31] Randall: And I've gotten, at the time, I've gotten really good at doing the job that I was doing. And the profession that I was in at the time had tremendous upside, but I wasn't getting the traction that I should have been getting based on my skills and ability. So I was in Barnes and Noble one day and I was just browsing the books.

[00:37:51] Randall: Your book just spoke to me, like the title was, was me. It was like I have it written down, but who gets promoted? Where is it? Who doesn't, and why? Yeah, exactly. I was like, that's me. 

[00:38:01] Don: You wanted to know the answer to that question. 

[00:38:03] Randall: I did. So much so, that I am an avid reader, but I never read an entire book, in a day, or two days, or in a weekend.

[00:38:12] Randall: This book, I got it, I read it in the weekend, and at the end of the book, You're like, Hey, by the way, I'm an executive coach. If you fit these sort of loose parameters, give me a call and you know, we could maybe start working together and I sent you an email. I think it was your email address in there. I sent you an email and I've been working with you since.

[00:38:31] Randall: So yeah, kudos to you for your success. I really appreciate that chance moment, I suppose. 

[00:38:37] Don: Well, thank you for that, Randall. 

[00:38:38] Randall: Yeah, I mean, I would say. 

[00:38:40] Randall: While I'm giving you your flowers, there's been like, so I'm going to say a couple of things, 

[00:38:45] Randall: So you're a coach and I was working, with you, like coaching relationships, I suppose, we worked together pretty consistently for a period of time and then now every once in a while, I'll have a career question or professional situation that I want to leverage your advice, wisdom and guidance for but after working with you for a period of time and then learning the lessons and reading your books and then doing the work, It has propelled me.

[00:39:11] Randall: So thank you for that. But also, it's not necessarily, it's not like advanced chemistry, right? These are pretty basic, concepts. And in my mind, I'm always thinking about this golden tablet exercise of if I had this golden tablet when I was 18 years old, of these basic concepts and principles, I could have gone further faster, right?

[00:39:32] Randall: So every data point, every one of these lessons I learn, I always think about like, I'm going to put this in the golden tablet and that's what the book I want to write is. But in working with you and being coached by you and learning from you. It had encouraged me that I now have a skill set that I can start coaching people.

[00:39:50] Randall: That's very true because you paid attention, you tested the advice against the real world, you went out and road tested it. And so then that makes it your own. 

[00:40:00] Randall: Yeah. And one of the things that sticks in my mind, that you had said this to me once And your comment right there reminded me of it.

[00:40:08] Randall: Is you told me once that I appreciate working with you Randall because you do the work. I'm like, I know what your prices are. People pay you this kind of money And they don't take action. I was like, I was baffled. You probably told me that five years ago or more. And it's, I, I think of it often.

[00:40:28] Randall: It baffles me. 

[00:40:30] Don: Yeah. It baffles me too. Yeah, there's things you have to do, you know, after you make a plan, you have to go execute the plan. The making of the plan is the first step. It's not the last step. 

[00:40:40] Randall: Yeah, and then you said like speaking on stage has refined your thought process.

[00:40:45] Randall: I've realized that in coaching people, it refines my thought process, but also reinforces the idea of these principles. Now I find myself like my professional endeavors and the things I want to accomplish is like, stop doing that. You would tell somebody else to stop doing that.

[00:41:02] Randall: So stop doing the thing. And it's a good pressure check for me to be like follow your own advice and if I'm not having these conversations repeatedly with my clients I would go far afield on like many endeavors down rabbit holes that aren't making any progress so because I'm having these conversations because I'm refining my own thinking while I'm helping other people achieve their goals it's helping me. Unintended consequence of the process.

[00:41:28] Randall: I didn't realize that that was a thing, but after a few coaching engagements, I was like, wow, this is helping me as almost as much as it's helping the clients or more. 

[00:41:36] Don: I agree. I think that helping other people, there's a certain psychological nurturing that comes from this. And it's obviously it's how humans are wired.

[00:41:47] Don: So for society to thrive you want people to help each other. It's the thing, it's the, the profound thing about humans. And so when you help other people succeed, it feeds the soul and every aspect of your being. If you're good at it, if you can look at it and say, Hey, this is working, I'm helping people, they're thriving, they're succeeding, I'm making a positive impact.

[00:42:15] Don: And I know this from an odd thing. I was studying retirement and academically. And so one of the things I discovered is that people in the helping professions don't want to retire. They're So happy helping people that they want to keep working well past normal retirement ages. There's something about it that I don't want to use the word addictive because that sounds bad, but it's like a self feedback positive loop that people don't want to turn loose of to drink mai tais and sit in a big chair. 

[00:42:46] Randall: Yeah, I was just thinking about this this morning about what type of work engages me the most and there's certain things that I can do all day long and it's work, but it energizes me and coaching and helping people make progress in their lives and their businesses and their careers, I can do that all day long.

[00:43:05] Randall: Finish my day and still go run seven miles and have the energy for that. But if I'm doing other things that are just draining for the same amount of time, I'm like, oh, now I gotta go run. Like, come on. Yeah, so I agree a thousand percent. I got a bunch of questions I want to get through, Don. Maybe we'll do a part two if you want to join me for that at some time? 

[00:43:24] Don: I would love to do it Randall. 

[00:43:26] Randall: I would be delighted to return. I would be delighted to return. 

[00:43:29] Randall: Yeah. Excellent. a couple of rapid fire questions before we wrap up, if that's okay, what's the most influential book you've ever read? 

[00:43:36] Don: How to win friends and influence people, which has such a Machiavellian title.

[00:43:44] Don: It sounds like you're manipulating people, but actually that book teaches you how to think about how you come across to other people. And of course it's a classic. It'll never be out of print. So that one book. If I was just going to name one, that one. 

[00:43:57] Randall: It's that book is why I phrased the question the way I phrased the question not your favorite book but influential book because that has been the most influential book that I've ever read and I was reluctant to read it at first because of the title and I was like, I don't want to manipulate people then somebody else recommended it to me and it is if I had a If I was ever a professor, I mean, I've given it to like people that have, like, that have reported to me, but I think it should be required reading for any adult in the world.

[00:44:27] Don: Well, it teaches you basically the whole point about etiquette. Etiquette is about making people comfortable. In a social setting and that book teaches you how to make people comfortable. And so if you think of it as like an etiquette book, then everyone would line up for it. It's just that title.

[00:44:44] Don: You know, there was a day at a time when that title probably helped that book. But it's a very powerful message that it's not all about you. As a matter of fact, it's very little about you. 

[00:44:54] Randall: Exactly. What's the one piece of advice you would give your younger self? 

[00:44:58] Don: Don't keep Putting all the chips in.

[00:45:01] Don: Pull some of the chips to the side. You don't have to put them all at risk every single time. 

[00:45:06] Randall: I like that. I like that. We'll end there. Donald Asher. Thank you so much for your time today. As I mentioned, I appreciated working with you over the years. I've had many successes that you've helped me accomplish.

[00:45:18] Randall: So thank you for your advice, guidance, and wisdom over the years and especially today. Thank you for making the time to come on the show. I'm sure that our listeners, like, I was taking notes the entire time. I'm sure that our listeners have have taken some nuggets away from this conversation as well.

[00:45:33] Randall: So thank you. 

[00:45:34] Don: Thank you for having me, Randall. I think podcasts like the one you're doing are very valuable for people. It's a very concentrated way to get useful information. So it's really a good product. 

[00:45:44] Randall: I appreciate that. Thank you.

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