Episode 091: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for What You Want Says Smit Patel

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Smit Patel Learn to Hustle

Smit Patel

Smit Patel wants to inspire you to stop being afraid to ask for what you want. His book Learn to Hustle provides a lot of examples on how to communicate your needs and get what you want.

At just the age of 17, he was the youngest attendee at a Boston Startup Weekend (and he even convinced them to let him in for free!) He doesn’t apply for internships, he emails the CEOs of companies directly to inquire about opportunities. Smit wanted to learn about online marketing, and he wanted to learn from the best, so he secured internships at ToutApp and HubSpot. Bostoninno has named him one of the 13 student entrepreneurs to watch.

Smit hasn’t even graduated from college yet, but he has been able to build an impressive list of professional accomplishments because he isn’t afraid to ask for what he wants.

Key UnStuckable Takeaway

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want!

Smith is still in the very early days of his career, but has learned an invaluable skill: don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.

He doesn’t ask for just anything; he asks for help or how he can help someone. He has an awareness about what he needs to learn, but also how he can add value to an opportunity.

Quick Action to Get Unstuck

Find 10 people on LinkedIn that work in the area you want to learn more about and cold email them.

Smit frequently emails people he has never met before. He does this to ask them questions about subjects he wants to learn more about or just to ask to meet with them in person.

He says most of the time people respond to his requests and have been very helpful. From his perspective he feels he has nothing to lose. It’s free and doesn’t take much time, so why not email someone you don’t know?  Let’s break down this quick action into even smaller tasks:

1. Open your LinkedIn profile (and if you don’t have a profile on LinkedIn, create one!)

2. Search for people by your area of interest, by industry or by location.

3. Scan your connections’ profiles to see their connections and ask if they can make any introductions for you.

4. Once you are done searching and scanning, make a list of 10 people that sparked your interest the most.

5. Before you reach out to them, be clear about your intentions and why you are reaching to them. What do you want to learn from them? Can you offer them help? Why do they inspire you?

If you are feeling stuck, consider trying this exercise once a week for a month and see what happens. Just like Smit, you have nothing to lose by trying!

UnStuckable Quotes From Smit

“Don’t be afraid to ask for anything. The worst thing someone will say is no. You have nothing to lose.”

“A hustle means getting what you want and being persistent, but in a good way.”

“A personal brand is the ability to sell yourself.”

“You want to build a personal brand for yourself, so when someone thinks of you, they know exactly what you are able to do, so they can connect you to the right opportunity.”

“There’s a difference between talkers and doers. Just keep doing.”

“Most people who are successful just know what not to do because they have failed before.”

More Habits & Actions

  • Smit got involved in the startup community by attending several startup events including StartUp Weekend in Boston when he was just 17.
  • He was attracted to marketing because he found a way to combine his passion for technology and for business.
  • He demonstrated his entrepreneurial chops by scoring a free ticket to Boston’s StartUp weekend. He did this by telling them he would be their youngest attendee.
  • Smit has developed a habit of negotiating and commenting his needs by looking for win-win opportunities.
  • He has also developed a habit for reframing his response to rejection by asking what he could have done differently instead of getting angry or feeling dejected.
  • Smit never applies for jobs online, he emails the CEO of the company directly. This method frequently helps him get “referrals” from the CEO.
  • He is able to live up to his values on a daily basis by surrounding himself with people who will call him out when he’s not living up to his values.
  • Smit learns in two different ways: 1) he jumps into a subject and figures it out and 2) he hangs around people who know how to do what he wants to learn.
  • He has also recently discovered the importance of having mentors.

Alternative Perspectives

  • Smit believes that the two key skills that can really add value to a startup are either coding or selling.
  • He has been rejected for internships, but has kept in touch with the founders of those companies, which led to other opportunities.
  • Smit says he is motivated as an immigrant to become an entrepreneur to take advantage of all the opportunities America has to offer.


Smit’s Website

Smit’s List of Values

Learn to Hustle by Smit Patel

Startup Weekend





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