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Episode # 495   Maria Flores Letelier - How To Ask For What You Want

About The Episode:

We often hear that we get in life what we have the courage to ask for. As a child, if you had learned the art of asking, how different would your life be? On today’s episode of The Inspiration Show, we join my special guest, Maria Flores Letelier, author of "Javi's Opportunity Manual: A Kid's Guide to Making Things Happen", as she reveals key points for making effective requests at work and in life, so that you can get what you want and create your own opportunities.

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Episode # 495 Maria Flores Letelier - How To Ask For What You Want

NL: Hi everyone. My name is Natalie Ledwell and this is The Inspiration Show. I'm going to be bringing you a fantastic show this week and I'm really looking forward to introducing you to my special guest, but before I do that, I just want to make sure that if you are watching this show live on Facebook or if you're watching it later on our YouTube channel, make sure that you click the link below after you finish watching the show, so you can take my 30-second quiz so we can figure out what's holding you back or what's blocking you from success. Okay, so please help me introduce or help me welcome my guest today, Maria Flores Letelier. How are you Maria?


MFL: Fine. Thank you for having me.


NL: It's a pleasure to have you here. I was actually going through your bio and some of the major accomplishments that you've been able to achieve throughout your life. You've worked with some incredible companies I think here in the US and in Mexico. So tell us a little bit about your background and what it is that you were doing, that you have been doing.


MFL: Okay. Well, my background academically, I studied philosophy as an undergraduate and that really impacted me. I learned about the way language affects us and how we can embed our world to language. And then at some point later on, I got a Master's in Marketing at Northwestern and by the end of that I started to work on projects. One of the most interesting projects I worked on is a project in Mexico where we launched a housing service for people, low-income people. Basically people who build their houses one wall at a time and we actually offered them a service where they could build their whole house over a 70-week period and we use women in the local community to build the houses. I'm sorry not to build the houses, to sell the service, and that was a big inspiration actually for the book.


NL: Oh fantastic! So like I was saying, you've worked with massive companies and I think that all your skills in helping with communication and how to solve conflicts and how to have empathy I think has really helped you a lot with that. But yes, what we're talking about today is the book that you've written which is called “Javi’s Opportunity Manual” which is a guide for children to to make things happen. So it's a bit of a shift like a children's book from the corporate work that you've been doing. So what motivated you to write the book?


MFL: Well, that's I guess I was being a little elusive, but that program that I worked on, I work with women and I've worked with families and communities basically teaching them how to commit something in the long term for their house and then how to be customers, how to make requests that was a big part of it. How the woman could also being offered to others in the community by helping them with a service. How when somebody defaulted with a payment what would what kind of conversations that they have to have to renegotiate. All of that made me realize that people early on need to learn those skills about making requests, making offers, inventing your own opportunities, and if we wrote a book for children that would be the best place to start. And it's actually interesting because in those communities the book was also published in Spanish and a lot of people are reading in those communities, both adults and children together.


NL: Yeah.


MFL: That's where my inspiration came from. Also, I have a big family, I have nieces and nephews and I could see that early on, some of them really did struggle with making requests and they struggled with communication at an early age. And I came across a study by the American Sociological Review in 2012 that talked about how they follow the kids third to fifth grade and they learned that those kids that came from higher economic homes were able to invent their own advantages. Basically by making requests at school. And the ones that came from lower-income communities didn't make any requests and struggled much more in school. They didn't know how to ask for help in school. Ao the combination of those three experiences allowed me to write the book.


NL: Right. So what I hear you saying is that there is a right way to make a request and a way that's not very effective. So what is the right way to make a request?


MFL: Well, the way children tend to make requests often, (this is what the book shows in the character to some of the children) is passively or they want people to read their minds or in a whining kind of way. So what the book talks about is first of all, if you want to make a request, ask for what you're asking for, communicate it. Second of all, state how you would like whatever it is that you're asking for done. In the world of philosophy that's called conditions of satisfaction, but in the book it's explained in a much more informal way. And thirdly by the time when you want something done - what is the time period that you need your request to be fulfilled by. It's very simple but it's things that people don't do and especially children as they're growing up are not taught to do.


NL: Yeah, exactly and I have done some work with our mutual friend, Scott Cody, who teaches a lot of Dr. Forester’s work. So yeah, so what we're saying is that to make a request, you need to be clear about what it is that you want, you need to communicate how you would like it to live it and that you also when you would like to have it completed, that's right. And do you get a buy-in or do you get an agreement from the other person that they can actually fulfill it in that time?


MFL: Yes, exactly. But the idea is to have conversations. The idea is that we invent our world with conversations. And that's something that in the book is explained in a very easy way for children to have. And also all the hurdles that they can encounter throughout the way. We don't always get what we want. Sometimes we're told, no, so how do you keep inventing the conversation, what are other conversational moves that can happen, what other possibilities are open for you. That's what the book covers that through a narrative, through a story of a girl rather than a teaching format, which would have been another way to write the book, but I thought it would be more effective for kids to cover as a story of a girl who is struggling on her own.


NL: Yes, because I was going to say that fiction or a story is an easy way to remember the lessons. Yeah?


MFL: Exactly.


NL: So I know that you also cover things like the importance of listening and the importance of working with others, so tell us a little about the storyline like what's the storyline outlined in the book?


MFL: Well, the story is about an immigrant girl who has come to the United States and early on she could sense a certain culture change between the way she's being raised by her parents and the way success happens in the States, and so then she has this dream of going to tennis camp and she's told, no, that she can't go. Because, actually she's not even sure why she's told no, it's not until in the book until she finally has the conversation with her parents where she actually makes a real request that she learns that they don't have the funds to send her to tennis camp. So at that moment through the help of her uncle, who's taking classes on entrepreneurship, tells her, hey what can you do to go to tennis camp, what can YOU do on your own? And she realizes she can raise funds and that she's going to do that. Eventually, she realizes she could do it through a food cart as her father is a great cook. He loves to cook. And that's basically the story. All the hurdles that she encountered along the way, she needs to get other people to help her and that's a big theme in the story is how do you get other people to help you? It's not easy. It's sometimes she can make a request to be helped and people blow her off.  In the story she, she becomes friends with another character whose name is Benji. Benji is doing something that she's in awe of, she's giving guitar classes to other kids and he makes five dollars. But what really blows her mind is the teachers are promoting his fliers, the parents are paying for his classes and she's saying she thinks to herself what is it that he's doing that I can't do? It's actually not easy for her to do the food carts, it’s not easy for her to get her parents involved, to get help from her friends and to get the principal to sign off on the food cart at school, to get people buying her products. All of that is a challenge, and at some point, she discovered that people don't want to buy her products anymore, that they’re getting tired of it. So what does she have to do to actually add value, whether what kind of questions that she have to ask, she has to listen to other people. All of these are things that she learns in the book to make her journey come true finally.


NL: Right. So what age is the book relevant to?


MFL: I voted for middle graders which is technically like 9 to 12 year olds, but I'm finding that a lot of 13, 14, older kids are also reading it. We did a pilot in one school in Chile where the whole class read the book. It was sixth graders who read the book, and then they did a video saying what they got out of the book, what they learned from it, and there were some interesting things I don't know if you want to hear about that.


NL:  I'd love to hear about that.


MFL: Well, there was a class, they wanted to have a party. An informational email had been sent out to the parents of the classroom and the party wasn't happening. No one was responding to this email and basically, the kids finally realized that a request had never really been made to the parents, only an informational email stating that this was going on. So the kids really wanted to have this social event, so they committed that each kid would ask their parent - can they participate in this party. And they did, and they had a 95% turnout. That's one example. Another one is a girl who had been making scarves for herself as a hobby at home, but after reading the book, she realized that she could actually sell those scarves and she wouldn't have to ask her parents for money to go to the movies and things like that, she could make her own money. And another case of a boy who wanted to lose weight and asks for support. He asked for his parents to enroll him in a nutrition program and asked his friends not to eat junk food around him anymore. So those are three cases that came from reading the book.


NL: That's fantastic and I mean it sounds like they’re principles that kids could be showing with their parents as well, like it sounds like it really could expand and help family communication, right?


MFL: Exactly.


NL: Yeah, I know because I have a program called PD For Kids, which a lot of people in our Mind Movies community know about, and we're doing work in Colombia and in Liberia. So we should talk after the show and see how we could support each other there. So how long has the book been out? What is the success of the book been so far?


MFL: Well the Spanish version came out about 6 months ago and that one is doing quite well for it took have been just 6 months. It sold through the first printing, but the Spanish version was launched in Colombia first, and from there it's being launched in Spain and being distributed in other countries. The English one came out in December of last year and that one has sold okay but I still need to get the word out there with that one.


NL: So who do you think are the best families or children that could really benefit from reading the book?


MFL: What do you mean a family? What do you mean by that?


NL: Is there like I know the age group that we're looking at, but is it applicable to any children?


MFL: Yes. I think it is applicable to any children. I think there is - partly from my background in the kind of projects that I worked on - there is a benefit for people who normally would have access to resources and don't have skills for having proper communication. So I want to do and I am going to do more pilots here in the US with lower income schools and communities because I know my kids go to public schools, but they go to a school in a very privileged community, and while there are shy kids and some kids that have a hard time making requests and making offers, a lot of them are being pushed and driven by their parents from early on. That's not happening in lower-income communities. So I want to distribute the book and do programs in lower-income communities as another way of getting the book out there.


NL: Yeah, well I think the book is beneficial to any child. And it's interesting because you could have children in Beverly Hills, you could have children in Detroit, and even though the situations are different, the results are the same, and kids are feeling very overwhelmed, maybe they are being pushed by their parents or maybe they're being ignored by their parents, but this book could really help communication not just with them improving their particular life by helping their school life, but also to improve the communication with their family and to be able to expand that as well and to help them feel like they have some control over the results that they get in their life. And I think this book does an incredible job of being able to illustrate that in a way that's really easy to read and very easy to understand. So I want to congratulate you, Maria, because I think you've done an amazing job.


MFL: Thank you.


NL: So where can we send people if they want to get their hands on the book and if they want to purchase the book?


MFL: Amazon is the best place. It’s on Amazon.


NL: Do you have a website as well?


MFL: I don't have a website yet, I'm working on one right now.


NL: Alright. So the name of the book is “Javi's Opportunity Manual Soft Cover: A Kid's Guide to Making Things Happen”. So I encourage you to click on the banner or the link so you can go straight through to the Amazon site to purchase the book and I think it's a great thing to do as a family as well, to be able to go through the book together, which is a great idea. So thank you again, Maria for joining me today. It's been an absolute pleasure talking to you.


MFL: Thank you for having me.


NL: Great! So guys make sure that like I said before, now that the show is towards the end, after the video finishes just click on the link below if you're watching this on Facebook live or if you're watching it on our YouTube channel, take our 30-second quiz, so we can figure out what's holding you or blocking you from success. And don't forget if you're watching this on, just leave your email so we can send you the Manifesting with the Master's video e-course for free. So, until next time, remember to live large, choose courageously, and love without limits. We'll see you soon.




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