Don't Ask for Permission

November 06, 2021

Early in my career, I worked for an SEO company. I was pretty low on the totem pole but had a lot of chutzpah.

I would get assigned a technical project specification written by a senior developer (in New Zealand) based on a report created by an SEO consultant in our Wisconsin office. One of these projects would typically take a month to build. One month, my team was worried. The other two developers were busy working on a big project, and they had three projects that I needed to build that month.

I went over to the consultant and said, “Bring your notes from the SEO analysis. We’re going into the conference room to look at the site.”

We took 30 minutes and went through each item in their notes. Next, I’d determine if what they wanted was easy or difficult to build. If it were difficult, I’d suggest a few much easier alternatives. As far as they were concerned, the easy and difficult solutions were equivalent from an SEO perspective.

I explained that I now had my list of what to do, and they didn’t need to write out a formal report or send anything to New Zealand.

Each project took me a week.

I had no authority to order around our consultant or to change our operating procedures. However, I didn’t ask for permission, and nobody questioned me.

Everybody was just happy that the projects were done and they had less work to do. The moral of this story is, “It’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.”

Don’t wait for permission to lead. Just do it.


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Written by Andrew Shell, a web developer from Madison, WI.