Episode 251 — How to Get People to Help You


Episode 251 — How to Get People to Help You

Have you ever reached out to someone and asked them for help — and never gotten a response? This Podcast is about how to get a better result: How do you get people to want to invest in you, especially when they’re busy?

When you approach someone, you have to put in the effort to demonstrate that you’ve put the thought into it yourself — and that you’re committed and that you will see it through. The more you do that, the more the other person is going to come onboard.

In this Podcast, Allan talks about how to approach busy and successful people, how to establish an authentic relationship with them that makes them invest in you enough — to help you.



[02:44] The Question That Inspired This Podcast
[03:35] Changing That Question — to a Better Perspective
[05:32] Implementing Your Million-Dollar Idea
[10:35] Considering the Other Person’s Time
[14:16] Conclusion



Welcome to Episode 251! I wanted to talk about the subject of getting help from others. Have you ever reached out to someone and asked them for their help — and never gotten a response? How do you get a better result? How do you get people to want to invest in you, especially when they’re busy?

If you find this Episode valuable, please share it with others.

Let’s dive in!


[00:59] Have you ever sent in your reel and wondered why you didn’t get the callback or what the reason was you didn’t get the job? Over the past 20 years of working for studios like ILM, Blur Studio, Ubisoft, I’ve built hundreds of teams and hired hundreds of artists — and reviewed thousands of reels! That’s why I decided to write The Ultimate Demo Reel Guide from the perspective of someone who actually does the hiring. You can get this book for free right now at www.allanmckay.com/myreel!

[15:40] One of the biggest problems we face as artists is figuring out how much we’re worth. I’ve put together a website. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com! This is a chance for you to put in your level of experience, your discipline, your location — and it will give you an accurate idea what you and everyone else in your discipline should be charging. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com!


[02:44] I got an email asking me, “How do I build content that’s so real that if I spread it on social media and people will believe it actually happened and go nuts? Things like Paranormal Activity movie, so that I can get contacted by agents for adverts (instead of being the one going to them) to apply for a job?” I thought it was a interesting email that addressed:

  • How do I go viral?
  • How do I create amazing content that’s so extraordinary, I don’t ever have to apply for work anymore?

That’s the recurring theme: You’re putting the work on someone else. It’s kind of like asking, “How do I become famous and successful?”


[03:35] I think it’s important to rephrase questions like this because it puts it in the context that you aren’t doing any work. I feel like if I were to answer this question, I don’t think the person is going to do what I say because of how they’re phrasing the question and how they’re putting it onto the other person. Instead, if someone came to me and said, “I’ve been doing some work and trying to get some traction. I’ve been creating some horror style realistic creatures, but I would like to get your input on how I can improve them.” That to me signals that you’re already doing it and you’re looking for advice.

[04:29] When you ask a question like this, it makes me feel like it’s not worth my putting in the time because you haven’t tried to do it yourself. And that question extends into everything you’re doing. If you reach out to someone and say, “Hey, I want you to be my mentor and teach me everything,” it’s not going to resonate the same way as, “I’ve been doing this for so long but I haven’t been getting any traction. If you could give me a couple of tips, I’d love to know what your advice is.” And once the person gives you the tips, you go and you apply them; and then go back for more. This is how you establish a relationship and how you get someone to invest in you. You’re basically saying, “How do I create a successful business. Give me the business plan!” When you look at it from that perspective, you’re asking the person to do all the work and not showing any effort. That’s my source of frustration with this.


[05:32] The best thing to do is if you have an idea — go with it. Go down that path. Otherwise, it’s just an idea; and everyone has those million dollar ideas. I love when I am sitting next to someone and something gets announced and the person says, “They stole my idea! I’ve been thinking about it for years!” I’ve got plenty of ideas as well; but if I’m not getting off my butt and implementing them, then they’re just ideas. Just an idea means nothing. It’s the action that’s going to lead to success and results; and then to other people helping you taking further actions.

[06:27] [My team and I] have a common thing with my emails: When people are asking for these things and showing they aren’t putting in the work themselves, why should we go out of our way to help them? That sounds harsh! But when you’re getting hundreds of emails every day, you need to put in the time. The gesture that you aren’t putting in the time yourself into your idea — but expecting the other person to do the work for you — that shows that even if you get the response, you aren’t going to do anything with it. You’re just going to say, “Okay, thanks!” and move on. But the people who show me the results and share their work — those are the people I’m willing to invest my time in.

[07:25] The important thing — is to put the time in yourself. Show that you can do the work and your email should show that time and effort went into it. If your email shows that you’ve put in no time, why should the other person take the time to reply? I’ll spend 10 minutes replying to someone and I have to pick and choose. Some emails could take 30 minutes to reply to! If I want an 8-hour day, I can choose to respond to emails or get my work done (from which I would get actual money). So if I were to price my time, I would have to make $150 per email. If I reply to 10 emails, I’m already down over $1K. And if the other person isn’t going to do anything with my email, I’m burning money. If I were to reply to someone and it helped them, then it’s worth it. But if someone is just firing out questions, it’s basically like asking for money. They aren’t front loading the thought, the effort or the gesture. This is more of a recurring theme. If you want more than a few words response, show them that you’ve put in the work yourself.

[09:11] There are some people I mentor in the illustration world. They keep asking the same questions about the business side of things and I keep spending hours of my time trying to help them — but they never apply what I tell them. I’m putting a lot of effort into that person’s business, but the person isn’t doing the work. I’m spending hours of my time. I could just go do it myself! I believe in that idea and it’s easy for me to execute it. When you’re asking the same questions over and over, you aren’t absorbing the answers.


[10:35] I had a discussion recently with someone about how my energy gets depleted trying to help someone. We need to figure out where we’re putting our time. How much can I give without it taking time away from my own priorities? There is finite energy and time in a day. I’m putting more than words but my time and soul into someone else’s goals. And anyone who’s busy has to divvy up where their time goes. That’s the thought process that goes into helping someone.

[12:05] So when someone says to me, “How do I create viral content?” and the way they’re phrasing it, it shows that they haven’t done the work themselves. They want the success but they aren’t, most likely, willing to do the work themselves. I could spend hours flushing it out and outlining it all, but I am confident that they won’t do the work and just say, “Cool!” At times like that, it’s worth doing the work yourself.

[13:07] This is such a critical subject that a lot of us don’t put thought into. [13:12] When you approach someone, you have to put in the effort to demonstrate that you’ve put the thought into it yourself — and that you’re committed and that you will see it through. The more you do that, the more the other person is going to come onboard. When a stranger contacts me and says, “Give me, give me, give me!” — without putting any effort or contributing — it wastes my time. For me ROI (Return on Investment) is good karma. When they’re throwing away my advice, I look at it as wasted time that I could’ve invested in someone else.


[14:16] I want to talk about this because a lot of us aren’t thinking about how we ask someone for advice or help. It’s the equivalent of someone walking by your desk and your saying, “Hey, I don’t know how to do this! Can you show me?” But when they show you, you get up and go make coffee. You’re asking for free work. That’s the same thing! I hope this makes sense and you can put it to use when you approach other people for help.

  • In the beginning, you ask a simple question. You show what you’ve already done and say, “This is where I get stuck. Do you have any thoughts?”
  • When they come back, you implement that and say, “Thank you so much — here is what I’ve done. Here is another question based on the results. I understand you’re busy but if you have a minute to respond to these quick questions, I promise to apply them.”

In other words, make it a back-and-forth rather than, “Here, you deal with it and maybe I’ll put your ideas to use.” I hope this makes sense!

I hope you enjoyed this Episode and found it valuable. Please take a few minutes to share it with others!

Next week, I will be back interviewing Louis Castle who is the Head of Amazon Game Studios. We talk about so much cool stuff! Fun fact: Louis was also a Co-Founder of Westwood Studios. If you remember Command and Conquer, it’s that company responsible for that game — and so many more! We talk about Richard Branson buying his company.

Until next week —

Rock on!


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