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Adii Pienaar

Now working on Receiptful. Co-Founder & ex-CEO of WooThemes. Author of Brandiing. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

Never Ask Permission

If you meet me for the first-time, I always hope that you'll at least find me somewhat likeable.

Beyond that though, you'll like find me to be opinionated, self-assured (or a tad arrogant depending on your perspective), strong-willed and a bit of a rebel.

That last bit is important to note: I am a bit of a rebel.

And there's only one real reason to that: I (almost) never ask permission to do anything.

Instead, I just do whatever I want.

That might sound cocky or ignorant (or any other criticism you'd want to include there), but this approach just works.

I'll tell you why. But first a story.

In the last 48 hours, I accelerated a campaign (which I'd been putting in place for the last 3 months) to reconnect with my Twitter followers, get them to give me their e-mail addresses and sign up to my newsletter.

Why do that? Well, e-mail is 40x more effective (in engagement and conversion) than Twitter and Facebook combined.

The result has already been that I increased my mailing list by more than 20% already and I expect it to top out at about 30% or 35%.

The thing about this campaign though is that it's aggressive and it probably touches on the fine line of what radicals would consider spam (or at least using a nice term: unsolicited e-mail). Which has meant that I've had a few haters hatin' on Twitter.

The reality though is that only 0.04% of all followers that I reached out, actually complained.

So if I had gone the route of asking for permission before I did this, I would never have had that positive outcome on my mailing list.

It's always easier to ask forgiveness afterwards than asking for permission beforehand. (Tweet This!)

Haters will always hate and opinionated people will always find a reason to discourage you to do something. (Tweet This!)

I never asked permission when I started to teach myself how to code and dived into WordPress. Neither did I ask anyone's permission when I quit my first (and only) corporate gig six weeks into the employment in favour of founding WooThemes.

Nope, I just did it.

Similarly, during my time at WooThemes, I did so many things without anyone's permission; not even my business partners. I just did these things.

I explored, researched and experimented. I put plans together using elaborate analysis. 95% of these things never amounted to anything, but I still did them, because the 5% was incredibly valuable and helped WooThemes become the multimillion dollar behemoth that it is today.

I never had permission to hustle or cold-call. This was a big part of WooThemes' traction and success in the early days.

Over the years, I've managed to build such a fantastic network of people that have so much more power, money and experience than I could ever have. Because I simply reached out without permission.

Want to speak at a conference? I'm the master at whoring myself out, banging on doors until they "invite" me to speak at a conference.

You don't get anything without asking. (Tweet This!)

And if you're gonna wait for someone's permission to pop the question, it's never gonna happen.

Don't get me wrong here: this approach lands me in hot water quite often.

And especially in my marriage.

When I don't ask permission, I'm less accommodating and less sensitive to others' opinions, wants or needs.

The point though is that it's okay to be like that. (If you can find a balance here and not be a dick, then you'll be golden. In some situations I'm too selfish and ignorant and I overstep the line.)

If you are being too accommodating and too sensitive to all the things that needs to fall in place even before you make a decision or start something, you'll simply never get ahead.

Stop asking permission and just do great things. (Tweet This!)

95% of those things might fail (and you might have to apologize to at least someone afterwards).

But seek out the awesome 5% and never ask someone's permission to go on that quest. (Tweet This!)

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