You’ll never hear yes if you never ask. I’m in a New York State of Mind today because of a Vanderbilt student named Michael Pollack and Billy Joel. Watch this video and see what happens if you only ask.

What was the worst that could happen? That Billy Joel said no. Let me ask you something…have you ever played with Billy Joel? Neither had Michael Pollack before that moment. So, that is not a risk.

Maybe he could have been discouraged by the potential of a little embarrassment? How long do you think that would last? A few days at most.

Instead, Pollack will be known for life as the guy who asked Billy Joel if he could play with him…and got to. He got to play piano for a living legend.

He traded the potential for a few moments of embarrassment or “failure” for a lifetime of memories and possibly a huge payoff.

What are you missing out on just because you didn’t ask?

What are you too embarrassed to try?

Who are you too reluctant to talk to?

Do something today that stretches you. Do something that has a small risk and a huge payoff. Do something that might…might just embarrass you.

I dare you. And I’m rooting for you!

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37 thoughts on “You’ll Never Hear Yes | Michael Pollack and Billy Joel at Vanderbilt

  1. Erik Fisher says:

    When I started my Podcast, I had to learn to eliminate the word ‘impossible’ from my vocabulary, or I would never have gotten some of the guests I have been able to.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Amen Erik…and look what has come from it. You are killing it.

      All because…you asked. You, too, have “chops!”

      1. Erik Fisher says:

        I’ve also gotten some ‘no’s’, but I’m not letting that stop me.

        Also, I’m suddenly craving pork chops.

      2. Matt McWilliams says:

        How much less did you have the person after the “no” than before? 🙂

        Mmmm pork chops with a blackberry/horseradish sauce…Yum.

      3. Mark Sieverkropp says:

        Chops? Like awesome sideburns?? cuz that’d be sweet!

  2. Wade_Thorson says:

    A lot of times I hear it stated as the worst that could happen is they will say no, but this view looks at the postive side and says you will never hear yes unless you ask. And on the same note if you happen to fail because of a risk you took, you are actually better off because you learned something.
    In order to develop yourself and your team you need to take those risks and try somethinig different it may just be the one thing that can make your team or you a top performer.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Love it Wade. You are right…what if Billy Joel had said no?

      Michael would be the guy who ASKED Billy Joel. He’d be the guy with the guts. How much easier would it be to ask for a job or to ask the next famous person…or to ask someone out on a date? Much easier each time.

  3. Carol Dublin says:

    Awesome! This goes along with the Brave New Year course I’m taking – no more being timid and shying away – step out in confidence because no telling where you’ll go and what you’ll get to do. Thanks for sharing Matt – you empowered my Friday!

  4. Bret Wortman says:

    Always been one of my favorite songs, and seeing it in this illustration of reaching out and taking a chance? Pure Friday Awesome.

    “Remember that name.”

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Remember that name indeed. Billy Joel just said to remember his name…because he took a chance.

      1. Mark Sieverkropp says:

        what was his name again? Ah dang! I forgot it!! 😉

  5. Eric Dingler says:

    You can’t fear the no. You can’t fear the embarrassment. I only fear the never-treid.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Bam! Well said Eric.

      1. Steve Pate says:


  6. Jon Stolpe says:

    So inspirational! Thanks for starting my Friday off with a great post!

  7. Steve Pate says:

    Thanks Matt, and great post and subject! This post reminded my to get into the book, “getting to Yes” but also I had a flood of memories pour in of the times when I was afraid to hear NO but was relieved to here yes. And most of the time, no more like 95.something% of the time, the fear was all in my head!

    1. Steve Pate says:

      I also for got to say, that video put goose bumps on me man. What a great way to start the weekend!

      1. Matt McWilliams says:

        Me too. I think I have watched it 8 times alread.

  8. Lily Kreitinger says:

    Should I ask DR to be on stage and teach a little Entre this next week? Ha ha ha!!

    1. Mark Sieverkropp says:

      Worst that could happen is he says no….

      1. Lily Kreitinger says:

        Not really. Worst that can happen is he says yes… he he he.

      2. Matt McWilliams says:

        I’m telling him you said that.

      3. Mark Sieverkropp says:

        haha, thats classic!

  9. Mark Sieverkropp says:

    Matt, could you cut me a check for $50k? (small risk to ask…and a huge payoff! 😉 )
    I totally hear you. I started creating stuff out of deer antlers, and I need to do some marketing to make some sales, and, as dumb as it sounds, I’m hesitant to market for one reason: what if I get more orders than I can fulfill? What if I can’t keep up with the orders?
    Isn’t that dumb? What a great problem to have!! If you’re going to have a problem, that’s certainly the one to have!! But like you said, what will I miss out on if I don’t ask people to purchase my product? And what’s the worst that could happen (I know, I’m not suppose to ask that…)? No one buys any? I’m no worse off…
    And the best? I’m 3 weeks behind on creating the products ordered. Dang darn darn dang darn! haha.
    Thanks for the encouragement! (though I find it hard to believe you’re rooting for me…unless its that your rooting for me to fail! ahaha. Gotta admit, I quite enjoy our rivalry!)

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Funny, when you wrote that I thought you were using the Big Ask, Then Retreat technique. I’ll say no and wait for your counteroffer.

      1. Mark Sieverkropp says:

        Im not a hardcore saleman, so I wasn’t using that technique, but here’s my counter offer:
        Matt, could you cut me a check for $49,950? (That’s retreating isnt it? haha)

      2. Matt McWilliams says:

        HA! I think you’re supposed to go a little lower.

  10. Mark Sieverkropp says:

    Ok, so now I have to comment on the video…I finally had a chance to watch it…all I have to say is, Wow! That is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen! We are all so close to achieving our wildest dreams, and, like Michael, we just have to ask. Ask life, as ourselves, ask someone who can help make it come true. But we (me especially) stop ourselves before we even get a chance to start!
    Thanks for sharing Matt!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      A nail head just found it’s hammer.

  11. Dan Erickson says:

    Nothing and no one. It’s just a matter of when the right time and opportunity.

  12. IrishBill says:

    Edison had over 500 patents denied. How many best selling authors had their first transcripts turned down by foolish publishers? “No” is part of life; so is learning to deal with – and learn from – adversity. Columbus took a chance.
    Great post! I’m a huge Billy Joel fan and I can’t fathom how cool it would be to play/sing with him. As a teenager, I asked a few girls out who declined. But that didn’t stop me from asking other girls, and I’ve been married 30 years to a woman who no doubt could have done better (well, maybe not :).

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Good point about Edison. I was just listening to a story on NPR about him. His persistence was amazing in the face of what most people would call “defeat.”

      He knew that if kept looking for the needle in the haystack that he would find it. Most people give up after only a few straws.

  13. Let's Grow Leaders says:

    fantastic video, inspiring story.

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