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  • GM Avetik Grigoryan GM Avetik Grigoryan

Be Willing to Ask

Want to get advice or training from a Grandmaster? It all starts by being willing to ask! Find out how to reach out and get in contact with GMs.

Improvement Hacks | 5 min read
Be Willing to Ask

“If there are no open doors, go and build one.”

It was the 1st of November, 2018.
A day that changed many things in my life.

Long story short, one of my friends (that time a stranger) gave me this question: “Who are the three people that you would love to get help from? In your life or in your company, whatever you do.
I said in my mind: “This guy, this guy, and this guy.”

And then she followed up with another question: “Why don't you message them?”

I came home and thought: "Really, why don’t I message them?”

GM Avetik Thinking gif

Even a 1 sentence reply could take me in the right direction. If they answer – super! If not – what do I lose? Nothing. It’s a freeroll!

The next day I opened my laptop, found these 3 guys, and wrote to them. 2 of them answered me. One of them even became my adviser and later joined the ChessMood team. Boom!

Before continuing to read this article, please think about the following 2 questions:

  1. Who are the three coaches/chess players that you would like to be trained by or get a piece of advice from?
  2. Why don't you contact them? 🙂

A piece of advice

There’s a famous saying in the startup world; “If you’re looking for advice, ask for investment. If you’re looking for investment – ask for advice.” I heard this from one of my mentors, who’s an investor himself.

He explained that; “So many people ask for investment. Often instead of saying no, we just give them advice, to be polite, and say goodbye. But some people ask for advice. We tell them what to do. They do it and they come back for another piece of advice. After the 4th time, we investors are becoming interested to know more about their projects.”

It was the same day before I messaged those “big guys.”
My mentor told me; “It’s a great idea. Why not? Just ask for some advice.”

Hambardzum Kaghketsyan
Hambardzum Kaghketsyan - Cofounder of

It worked perfectly. The guy offered to set up a call. And then he became so interested in ChessMood – what my plans were, the mission and vision of the company, etc, that eventually he offered to join the company and bring his 10+ years of experience in the online business world.
And it all started because I decided to ask him for a piece of advice…

What should you write to them?

If you came up with an answer to my first question; “Who are the three people, you would love to get help from,” and are now thinking about what to write, my answer is very simple.
Just ask for some advice 🙂 That’s it.
My piece of advice is to ask for a piece of advice 🙂

Will it work?

Of course, there’s no guarantee. But if you’re awesome, you simply ask for some advice, and you write to more than 1 person… Well, at least you multiply the chances of success.

Believe me, a single sentence from someone who has already achieved what you want to achieve can put you in the right direction. It’s worth trying.

A few tips

A message like... “Hi, can you coach me?” won’t work.
Neither will... “Hi, what books should I read?” or “Give me a study plan!”

I suggest following these tips I’ve prepared for you to increase your chances of success:

1. Be short

Everyone is busy and has lots of things to do. If you message a famous coach or a Grandmaster, most probably, they’re receiving many messages from strangers, and they’ll not be able to answer everyone.

Don’t write a long letter that explains your entire life. Be short and to the point.

2. Keep your message relevant

If you were to message me and ask; “what are the best open tournaments in Europe?”, I wouldn’t have the answer. Likewise, if you ask me what do I think about a YouTube channel that I’ve never watched before, I won’t be able to offer any insights.

Do a bit of research before writing. Make sure any questions you ask are relevant and meaningful.

3. Deeply personalize it (beyond just their name)

If you write “Hi Johan” instead of just “Hi”, it’ll make a better impression.

But if you show you’ve done your homework by deeply personalizing your message, you’ll stand out amongst a crowded inbox and show you care.

Here are a couple of examples:

“Hi Johan, I was learning to play the French Defense by studying your games. They’re amazing, especially the one you won against GM X.
Can you recommend any good modern theoretical books about the French Defense?”

Or “Hi Johan, I recently finished your book about strategy, it was fantastic. I tried to research what other books you recommend to read, but I couldn’t find them. Can you please recommend me 3 other books about strategy?”

That way, the reader, feels that you didn’t write a message and send it en-masse to 100 people 🙂

4. Provide value first

One of the people I hired last year, that I’m very proud of, is a guy, who sent me a file with very nice examples and said “You might find it useful while creating courses.”

It’s not mandatory to provide value first, but it’s an awesome way to reach out. Just go ahead with your imagination and find out what you can do to help.

Let’s say the person you would love to be your chess tutor has a Youtube channel. Maybe you could help them with thumbnail designs, research, or promotion.

5. Be awesome

If you write 30 words, where 10 of them are “I” or “me”, don’t expect a response. Any text that’s self-centered or shows a lack of respect won’t work either.

But if you’re awesome, you shouldn’t worry too much as your text will be awesome.?

If you’re looking for a chess coach, check out this detailed guide that will give you a step-by-step plan of finding the right coach.

Just go ahead

You wrote an awesome message to an awesome person and didn’t get a response? No worries. They might be very busy, or they might answer you later.

Don’t change your opinion of that person. It’s okay. You never know what’s happening in their life at that moment. Just go ahead and write to 2 or 5 or 10 other people, whom you admire and would love to get advice or training from.

The math works for you and there’s nothing to lose.

Quote by Mark Twain on getting started

P.S. I hope you won’t just say “aha, nice article Avetik”, but will take action!

If you have any thoughts or any nice stories, you can share them on our forum.

Originally published Mar 02, 2021

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