Advice from my heroes: How I turned AMAs into my secret weapon

I need help. We all do. But asking people for advice isn’t easy. With the amount of cold emails opening with “Can I pick your brain?” flying around San Francisco, you’d think the city was full of zombies.

What if 5 of the people you respected most in business each set aside five minutes to give you advice? The impact on your business would be immediate and impactful. Well, chances are, they are, but you’re not showing up to ask a question.

In the past year I’ve gotten advice from people like Chris Sacca, Jack Dorsey, Eric Ries, Naval Ravikant, Neil Strauss, Dan Ariely, Brad Feld, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Ryan Holiday. Did I discover some “cold email hack” that some shady guy on GrowthHackers posted? Actually, I just started showing up to AMAs (ask me anythings) on Reddit and Product Hunt Live.

An example question I had answered on Product Hunt Live

Instead of interrupting someone’s day with a cold email about your startup idea, an AMA is an event where the successful person is expecting and encouraging questions so they can be helpful. This isn’t exactly a secret, but yet I’m blown away by the number of founders I know that don’t use AMAs as a resource. It’s probably because sending an email is, at face value, easier than an AMA. But with a bit of strategy and the right platform, your chances of a response are greatly increased on an AMA platform. It’s worth it. Here’s some advice:

Reddit tends to be a bit crazy, and all based on timing. If an AMA is scheduled at 8:30 p.m. (full schedule here), you need to have your question copied and ready for the thread to open. Refresh the page like crazy until it does, and then paste as fast as your mouse will allow.

With a bit of luck, your question will be answered. I’ve done this with some pretty popular AMAs, including one where I got some great insight as a Patriots fan (cc Bill Simmons).

But Reddit can be a bit crazy. Right now, my favorite AMA platform is Product Hunt Live. It’s less crowded and there’s a hidden feature to cut the line.

How AMAs work on Product Hunt

When you submit your email address to be notified about an upcoming chat, a button pops up called “Ask a Question Now.” It’s amazing. The first time I used it, I was shocked that only one other person had asked in advance. It’s literally cutting in line.

Product Hunt, which has already conquered the field of “cool products that I want to use,” has created a large of friendly startup folks happy to give out advice. Their upcoming chats include Biz Stone, the artist Nas, and Mark Cuban. And yet nobody is asking questions in advance. ?

Asked two weeks in advance, got an email when the answer was ready

So here’s my advice: start asking more questions. Here are some of the other platforms I use:

Thanks for reading. Have you had any funny/interesting questions answered in an AMA? Let me know in the comments. ?

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