The Secret to Getting Anything You Want in Life: Jennifer Cohen8 min read

Full text of ’s talk titled The Secret to Getting Anything You Want in Life at TEDxBuckhead conference

Jennifer Cohen
at TEDxBuckhead conference

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– Fitness Personality

So I know the secret to getting anything you want in life, but before I share it with you, let’s talk about why we don’t get what we want. We all have fear, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of fear, of not being good enough, but all of those things stem from one core place. And that is self doubt.

Self doubt is why we get a crappy job. It’s why we don’t get the body we want or make the money we deserve and stay in relationships much longer than we know we should self-doubt is why we never change. And we don’t take action.

So then what is self doubt?

Self doubt is a story. We tell ourselves that we can’t do something and that it’s not possible how we’ll get rejected and fail, which is why it’s oftentimes smart. People often fail when you’re really smart. You’re really good at predicting all the possible negative outcomes. 

So you never take action. That’s why, it’s my belief that boldness is a stronger indicator of success than intelligence. Smart people think of all the negative things that will happen when things go wrong. But bold people think of all the good things that will happen when things go right now.

I’m not saying that smart people can’t be bold and that bold people can’t be smart, but it’s boldness. That’s the secret sauce boldness is what puts you on the path to success.

So when I was 18 years old, I had a really big dream. I’m from a little small town in Canada called Winnipeg. And my big dream in life was to be a VJ for MuchMusic. Do you guys know what that is? That’s like MTV for you guys. So I wanted to be like the female Carson Daly. 

I mean, I’m kind of dating myself, but you guys got the point, right? So I knew the job was super competitive. So I knew, I thought to myself, okay, I need to make a kilo killer demo tape. And that demo tape will get me the job cut to Kiana Reeves canneries was the biggest movie star of all time. And unbeknownst to me, he always wanted to be in Shakespeare, right? And he just finished speed the movie and he thought, what a better time and place than to go to Winnipeg, Manitoba where it’s minus 40 and perform Hamlet. So I thought to myself, that’s a great moment. I’m going to get Kiana Reeves to be on my demo tape for much music, and I’m going to get my dream job. So I told my family, I told my friends, and of course, everyone just laughed at me. 

The next day, when I knew he was in town, I went to the theater where he was performing, stood in the back and waited. Now 10 minutes turned into 20, 20 turned into 30; 30 turned into over an hour. And now I’m frostbitten. My friend, I took with me went home long ago, and yet I was still determined. Five minutes later there he comes walking out of the back of the theater. I boldly walked through all the girls and all the media and all the cameras. And I tap him on the shoulder and I say, “Keanu, you’re going to be my ticket to my dream job.” And he of course, looks at me dumbfounded and says, “How about I just give you an autograph?” And I said, “Autograph, why do I want your autograph? That doesn’t help me at all. I need you to get me my dream job.” 

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So determined. He of course tries to blow me off and says, “give me your phone number.” And I will call you when I have a couple minutes. So I grabbed some girl who I don’t know. And she had an eyeliner in her purse. I took the eyeliner. I took my gum wrapper in my, in my pocket, wrote my number. I wrote my name and I handed it to him and I ran away. I

 go to school the next day. I tell my friends or tell my family and everyone laughs at me and teases me day two. Same thing happens. But now more kids know, and now everyone’s teasing me like, Oh, you had to Keanu call you like, ha ha like what a loser you are. Of course, no call. And same thing happened day three. They go home on that third day. My mom says, “did you hear the answering machine?” 

I’m like, no. And at the time of course I’m dating myself and as remission, we didn’t have voicemails back then. Okay. Just letting you know. So then I go press play. And what do I hear? I hear a man’s voice saying on the phone with my mom picking up is Jennifer there? My mother then says, who is this?

And I hear, this is Keanu calling for Jennifer. She home. My mother says she’s at school call back and hangs up on him. So I was like, Oh my God, the next message. Same thing. But it’s Keanu is saying, hi, this is Jennifer. This is my phone number. You were saying something to me about something. And I wasn’t sure what you were saying, but call me back. I was freaking out.

So I got my composure. I called him back, explained to him very boldly, what I was talking about. And the next thing, you know, two days later, he’s sitting on my parents’ sofa in our living room with my three friends, holding amateur camcorders and someone holding a boom, hitting him in the face. And I had my Oprah moment. All right. I got that demo tape. Now. 

Now did I get the greatest demo tape of all, all time? You bet I did. Did I get the job interview at much music? I sure did. Did I get the audition? Yes I did. You’re right. You’re right. Did I get the job? Hell no, I did not get the job.

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So why am I even telling you this story?

And the reason why I’m telling you this story is that was a very pivotal moment for me in my life. It taught me a real big truth about success, which is you need to ask for what you want. Period. You need to ask, you know, that saying it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. It’s actually quite true in a time.

Now we are bombarded with information overload from every influencer expert telling you how to be successful. Do this, do that. Do the other thing when it’s really the most basic simple thing you can do, you need to stop deliberating, stop planning, stop creating flowcharts, and just act. Now in the words of another fellow Canadian, “You miss a hundred percent of the shots that you don’t take.”

So when you think to yourself, what does boldness really mean? It basically comes down to this. You chase what you want and you don’t take what you can get. 

The problem is most of us live on default. We default to what’s convenient. We’d take what’s available. And we acquiesced to what’s in front of us. Now, what I’ve realized is that there’s a really big misconception of what boldness really is. People assume that boldness is something you’re either born with or you’re not, but that’s actually quite not true. That’s not quite true.

Boldness is a skill like anything else you need to practice it. You need to harness it to get better. It, there is yeah. Mindset that I developed and it’s called a 10% target. 

And what that is is basically very simple. The idea is that you, whatever you want most in life, you make 10 attempts. The problem is most people don’t make 10 attempts. The truth is most people don’t even make one attempt. They call themselves out before they even try. And the purpose of the 10% target is to get very comfortable at failing 90% of the time.

Now I guarantee if you make 10 attempts at anything, one will be successful because here’s what I know. Either one you’ll get the thing you want or two, you will get something that you never even knew available. 

I want to take one step back because this is what normally happens. What most people do is the reason why most people don’t get the job they want is because they don’t actually go for the job they want. They see what’s available on or LinkedIn. And then the reason why most people don’t get the money they want is guess what? They don’t ask for the money that they want.

Actually, a survey was taken of over 160,000 people who actually really believed that they deserve to make more money. And two thirds of those people never even asked for a raise, but the 70% of the people who did ask for a raise, got it. What does that tell you? 

Now I want to go back because I was making another point about the 10% target, the 10% target, like I was saying, does two things:

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Number one, it makes you comfortable with failing 90% of the time.

Number two, it gives you the resilience and a skill. That’s the wrong slide. You got to go back to be comfortable.

Another example, when you go to a restaurant, most of us, what we do is we order what’s off on the menu. But really what being bold means is ordering from Austin menu. Because I’ll tell you, when I go to a restaurant, what I do is I see a flood of ingredients. And then I typically kind of like make my own mishmosh. Now I think that’s being very bold. However, I’m sure the server thinks is very annoying and possibly more times than not my food will be spat in, but I get what I want. And they asked very nicely. But the reason for that is when you are comfortable with asking for the small things in life, it gives you the, the skills, the habit, and the confidence to ask for the big things in life. 

So how do you practice failing nine out of 10 times? Or how do you get comfortable failing nine of 10 times?

And the answer is practice.

The more you do something over and over and over again, that becomes your new normal, just how you would train your body to be strong. You train your brain to be bold. See your brain now is bold with this beautiful picture. Thank you.

So I have one action item here for everybody here, which is write down anything you want most in life and then make 10 attempts at it. And it has to be 10 attempts. You have to embrace the 10% target. You have to commit to making 10 attempts because that’s how the idea is you are basically chasing what you want and not just taking what you can get.

Now, I had a whole section here about all of my colossal failures and how they led to a million successes. And I took it out because we’ve all had that. We’ve all had failures. We’ve all had successes. And the truth is it doesn’t really matter. What matters is I’m living proof that when you chase what you want and don’t just take what you can get. You are exponentially happy, more happy, and more satisfied with your life. 

The one thing that I know for sure about the 10% target is that it works a hundred percent of the time because you either get the one thing you want or you get the thing that you were meant to do. Now. I wasn’t the fastest athlete. I wasn’t the prettiest squirrel or the smartest in the class by far, but I still became a best-selling author and entrepreneur. Who’s sold companies for millions of dollars, co-founder of a breast cancer charity that raises thousands of dollars a year after year all by failing 90% of the time. And you can too, you could fail to succeed by failing. You can be fail. You can fail to become successful by just chasing what you want and not taking what you get.

Thank you. 

– Jennifer Cohen

Jennifer Cohen’s talk titled The Secret to Getting Anything You Want in Life at TEDxBuckhead conference