How a Single Word Builds Life-Changing Relationships

The power of “Hello”

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Photo by Elle Hughes from Pexels

arlier this year, I submitted a story to a publication I’ve been trying to break into for a long time. The story was rejected, but what followed was the start of a friendship and a potential professional relationship. The editor reached out to me after viewing my profile. He wanted to know more about animation and how we work. As a scriptwriter, he wanted to learn about my craft so he knew what to expect if he ever pitched a film project.

When I tell people I make movies for a living, they light up. They want to know how they made Brad Pitt younger in Benjamin Button. How did they manage to make Gollum so believable a decade ago? The dinosaurs in Jurrasic park are CGI? Did we even have computers back then?

I know the feeling. I am left in awe and wonder when I see how people pull off amazing stunts. James Lawrence, also known as “The Iron Cowboy”, finished 50 Iron Man Triathlons in 50 days in 50 states. This would kill most people. How on earth did he do that? How did he work out? How did he eat? Who was his crew? I bought his book to learn more. What would happen if I sent him a personal e-mail instead?

The power of “Hello”

Hello, my name is Steve Jobs, I need some spare parts for my projects. Can you help me?

One of the most iconic hellos in modern history is when young Steve Jobs called the co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, Bill Hewlett. Jobs requested spare parts for his current project — and he got them plus an internship¹. If he never picked up the phone, maybe you’d still have physical buttons on your phone.

Why don’t you pick up the phone or send an e-mail if you need anything? Do you think they are too busy? They are busy, but you are missing out on one important factor here. They are too busy for trash e-mail, spam, marketing lies, or people begging for money. What they are not too busy for, is an honest e-mail from someone with a desire to learn or connect. I’m not sure Tim Cook would reply to your e-mail, but you’d be surprised. People are usually nice.

I’ll let you in on a secret. When you approach people and tell them you think they do amazing things, they will like it. If you tail your approach with questions showing them you are eager to learn, you will most likely receive a positive reply. They were once like you. Eager to learn.

The results of a “Hello”

Actions might speak louder than words, but talking sure gives you a head start — so start talking

My rule of thumb is that you can never be set back more than you already are if you contact someone. If you don’t get a reply, how does this affect your current status? Does anything change if they reply “no”, “sorry, I have to pass”, or “sorry, I don’t have time to engage in your proposal. Good luck”? No. The difference between rejection and not asking is minimal.

There is an important “but” here. If you don’t approach these people you are 100% guaranteed to not move from your current position to the potential desire you have. The end of the story is that if you don’t ask, you won’t get anything from anyone. If you don’t ask for help, you are on your own.

Being on your own can work fine, but people are kind and usually want to help others. What do they expect in return? Most of the time — Nothing at all. That’s right. You can “Waste someone’s time” and they are fine with it because most people enjoy helping others.

Here are three real-life examples of mine, that all started with a “hello”

How I connected with a Disney supervisor and upgraded our production pipeline tenfold — “Hello”

In 2018 we started working on our most ambitious project to date. We were building a big world with many characters. We would make digital hair and simulate cloth. With our current pipeline, it would be impossible.

My ideas started spinning after watching a Disney keynote. The CGI-staff showed us how they use universal geometry for their characters. I knew we needed to do the same. I reached out to the lead of the modeling team, asking if he would be interested in mentoring us in our quest for our universal geometry.

Two months and some thousand dollars later, we had our universal geometry and we were able to pull it off. Without that mail, I think we would struggle.

How I connected with a technical engineer who loves animation and storytelling — “Hello”

An engineer, who deep inside was a script-writer and stop-motion animator, reached out to me. He saw my name in the end credits of an animated series. It was the beginning of a friendship. A hello was again able to unite two unknowns.

For years we have been talking about his scripts. We have shared knowledge and I think that one day we will work together on a project. His scripts might turn into pictures in the future.

How I connected with an editor and fellow writer — “Hello”

The editor reached out to me after reading about me in my profile. After a few chats, we set up a zoom call and I would answer any question he could throw at me about my work in animation.

He has looked through some of my stories and helped me with my formatting and content. My writing is better because of his involvement. In a few short meetings, we have helped each other a lot already.

Final thoughts

I try to teach my daughter, that if she wants something, she has to ask. If she doesn’t ask, no-one will know what she is looking for. We haven’t developed telepathic skills yet — Although I keep telling her I can read her mind. If you want something, you either grab it or make sure the right people know what you want. If not, you are just walking around with invisible wishes.

Some of the most brilliant inventions of our time started with a “Hello”. Few people can build fantastic things alone. If they do so without help, they are missing out on other people’s insight. It is usually a good idea to share ideas and work together. You might reject feedback, but listening will enrich you no matter the outcome.

If you want something, ask!

It doesn’t always have to be work-related. I met one of my best friends when I was seven years old. Our conversation was short, but to the point and we have been best friends for over 30 years.

Hey.
Hey.
Do you have a Nintendo?
Yeah.
Friends?
Friends.

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Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

Actions might speak louder than words, but talking sure gives you a head start — so start talking

Resources

¹ “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

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Thanks to Jordan Gross and Amardeep Parmar

Martin Andersson Aaberge

Written by

CG supervisor with 17 years of experience in the Animation- and VFX industry. Studying Design, Use and Interaction (UX) at the University of Oslo

Curious

Curious

A community of people who are curious to find out what others have already figured out // Curious is a new personal growth publication by The Startup (https://medium.com/swlh).

Martin Andersson Aaberge

Written by

CG supervisor with 17 years of experience in the Animation- and VFX industry. Studying Design, Use and Interaction (UX) at the University of Oslo

Curious

Curious

A community of people who are curious to find out what others have already figured out // Curious is a new personal growth publication by The Startup (https://medium.com/swlh).

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