How to find out what you don't knowYou don’t know what you don’t know…

until you ask.

Recently in a Skype group I saw the question “Hey everyone, quick question: has anyone ever dealt with creating labels for a large amount of direct mail?”
Now to me, it was obvious – it was a mail-merge question, using Word and a database (I always use Excel) to create labels. For my friend, it wasn’t obvious at all. He had never heard of the term and not knowing what it was, couldn’t search on Google to find the answer. If you type in his question into Google, none of the top 10 results even mention mail-merge. So he didn’t know the right question to ask, had no idea of the possible solution and until he found an answer, the only solution was hand writing / typing up 500+ labels or copying from each cell in his excel sheet into a label.
My friend was smart, he knew he didn’t know, so he asked. I was the first one to answer, however others also knew the term and if I hadn’t answered, someone else would have helped. He got a solution to the issue he had.
How many times in your business have you been frustrated or stuck on something because the only way forward looked like it would take a long time or the job was just too hard. This is exactly the time you need to stop what you are doing and ask if there is any other way to do what you need done.
You might think the way you are doing it is the only way, however still ask. It might be the only way because it just is…, and what you find out is a tip that lets you do it in 15 minutes instead of 2 hours. There may be multiple ways of doing it and you can get recommendations on what everyone likes.
I’ve seen multiple Facebook, Skype and Blog posts where someone asks a question, find out what they didn’t know they didn’t know and then more people comment saying OMG, I never knew that.
I’m just as guilty as all of you, not knowing what I don’t know. I’ve had friends, colleagues, VA’s and staff ask me “Why do you do it that way” and find out something new.
What I learnt from this was:
  1. Stop wasting time trying to work it out when I don’t know the answer
  2. Ask for help and get access to the amazing experts that are all around us
  3. Learn something new when I get the chance
If you want more of these Simple Solutions posts, let me know your questions below as a comment and I’ll do my best to answer them in upcoming posts. Some of my areas of expertise are outsourcing, management, leadership and office skills (tips, systems, etc to save you time and gain efficiency).
So your challenge is, give me a question and see if you can stump me… which I doubt. The good news is you will get some valuable information and see how I solve difficult problems for my clients.