How to Apply the Art of Asking

And How I Got My Professional Dragon Wrangler Photos

Asking is scary because it gives people the opportunity to reject you. But sometimes asking opens up possibilities that you never could have imagined.

At first, I considered my experience as an actual dragon wrangler in an exotic animal hospital as a separate part of my life from my writing and entrepreneuring. But it’s hard to stand out in a sea of bajilions of other writers. As I struggled to become a unique part of the community, I wondered if tying in my real-life dragon wrangling with my identity as a writer of dragon stories would be worth trying.

I did, and it seemed to fit well. At least I enjoyed talking about that other side of things and the occasional pictures I posted of my reptile buddies got lots of interaction.

But I soon discovered a problem with this cool new part of my branding. As I developed my expert positioning statement and submitted various versions for critique, I discovered that the term Dragon Wrangler was more confusing and off-throwing than unique and wonderful.

I was reading The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer at the same time as discovering this confusion, and a fantastic idea popped into my head: What if I had pictures on my website of myself in the business clothes I would wear to speak on stage but with a real lizard perched on my shoulder?

Not only would it at least help a little to tie things together, but it would be memorable and help me stand out in a fun, unexpected way.

But I didn’t have the kinds of dragons I would need for this in my own home. At the time I only had a small chameleon that I was fostering for an exotic animal rescue. I would need some more models.

I thought about who I knew with large pet lizards, and was surprised to realize that I didn’t actually know that many people, despite my fascination and experience working with them.

So a crazy idea came to me. What if I reached out to a general pool of reptile people in a Facebook group for local reptile enthusiasts?

Immediately part of me shot this idea down. Reach out to people I don’t know? About borrowing their lizard so I could get some cool pictures?

Would you rather watch the video?

There were some problems to overcome with the idea, like the fact that it was December in Indiana and much too cold to take exotic reptiles outside for a photoshoot, which would mean I would need to go to peoples’ houses. Inside the houses of strangers. Not only is it a bit risky to meet random strangers in their houses, but what random strangers whose houses would be okay to visit would want a random stranger coming inside?

I was also worried that people would think that I thought I was all that to want to get this photography of myself done. And that reptile owners would be concerned about spreading germs between different lizards in different households if I didn’t do a complete clothes change in between each house.

And I recognized the likelihood that I could get bitten by one or more of these lizards, which could get infected, and could result in losing a limb or death. Ever notice how imaginative Resistance can make your brain be when it wants to talk you out of a good opportunity? (For the scoop on Resistance and kicking its butt, read The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield. Like, right now. Go buy it. Right now.)

Because I knew about how Resistance works from reading The War of Art , I knew that the fear and desire to forget about the idea that I felt meant that I should definitely pursue it.

So I found ways to address these issues.