How to Get George Bush or the CEO of Google on the Phone

110 Comments

The below article, titled “Fail Better” and written by Adam Gottesfeld, explores how I teach Princeton students to connect with luminary-level business mentors and celebrities of various types. I’ve edited it to be shorter and clearer in a few places.

People are fond of using the “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” adage as an excuse for inaction, as if all successful people are born with powerful friends.

Nonsense.

Here’s how normal people build supernormal networks…

###

Most Princeton students love to procrastinate in writing their dean’s date [term] papers. Ryan Marrinan ’07, from Los Angeles, was no exception. But while the majority of undergraduates fill their time by updating their Facebook profiles or watching videos on YouTube, Marrinan was discussing Soto Zen Buddhism via e-mail with Randy Komisar, a partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, and asking Google CEO Eric Schmidt ’76 via e-mail when he had been happiest in his life. (Schmidt’s answer: “Tomorrow.”)

Prior to his e-mail, Marrinan had never contacted Komisar. He had met Schmidt, at Princeton University trustee, only briefly at an academic affairs meeting of the trustees in November. A self-described “naturally shy kind,” Marrinan said he would never have dared to randomly e-mail two of the most powerful men in Silicon Valley if it weren’t for Tim Ferriss ’00, who offered a guest lecture in Professor Ed Zschau ’61’s ELE 491 “High-Tech Entrepreneurship” class. Ferriss challenged Marrinan and his fellow seniors in the class to contact high-profile celebrities and CEOs and get their answers to questions they have always wanted to ask.

For extra incentive, Ferriss promised the student who could contact the most hard-to-reach name and ask the most intriguing question a round-trip plane ticket anywhere in the world.

“I believe that success can be measured in the number of uncomfortable conversations you’re willing to have. I felt that if I could help students overcome the fear of rejection with cold-calling and cold e-mail, it would serve them forever,” Ferriss said. “It’s easy to sell yourself short, but when you see classmates getting responses from people like [former president] George Bush, the CEOs of Disney, Comcast, Google, and HP, and dozens of other impossible-to-reach people, it forces you to reconsider your self-set limitations.”… Ferriss lectures to the students of “High-Tech Entrepreneurship” each semester about creating a startup and designing the ideal lifestyle.

“I participate in this contest every day,” said Ferriss. “I do what I always do: find a personal e-mail if possible, often through their little-known personal blogs, send a two- to three-paragraph e-mail which explains that you are familiar with their work, and ask one simple-to-answer but thought-provoking question in that e-mail related to their work or life philosophies. The goal is to start a dialogue so they take the time to answer future e-mails – not to ask for help. That can only come after at least three or four genuine e-mail exchanges.”

With “textbook execution of the Tim Ferriss Technique,” as he put it, Marrinan was able to strike up a bond with Komisar. In his initial e-mail, he talked about reading one of Komisar’s Harvard Business Review articles and feeling inspired to ask him, “When were you happiest in your life?” After Komisar replied with references to Tibetan Buddhism, Marrinan responded, “Just as words are inadequate to explain true happiness, so too are words inadequate to express my thanks.” His e-mail included his personal translation of a French poem by Taisen Deshimaru, the former European head of Soto Zen. An e-mail relationship was formed, and Komisar even e-mailed Marrinan a few days later with a link to a New York Times article on happiness.

Contacting Schmidt proved more challenging. For Marrinan, the toughest part was getting Schmidt’s personal e-mail address. He e-mailed a Princeton dean asking for it. No response. Two weeks later, he e-mailed the same dean again, defending his request by reminding her that he had previously met Schmidt. The dean said no, but Marrinan refused to give up. He e-mailed her a third time. “Have you ever made an exception?” he asked. The dean finally gave in, he said, and provided him with Schmidt’s e-mail.

“I know some of my classmates pursued the alternative scattershot technique with some success, but that’s not my bag,” Marrinan said, explaining his perseverance. “I deal with rejection by persisting, not by taking my business elsewhere. My maxim comes from Samuel Beckett, a personal hero of mine: ‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’ You won’t believe what you can accomplish by attempting the impossible with the courage to repeatedly fail better.”

Nathan Kaplan ’07, another participant in the contest. was most proud of the way that he was able to contact former Newark mayor Sharpe James. Because James had made a campaign contribution to Al Sharpton, the website www.fundrace.org listed James’ homes address. Kaplan then input James’ address into an online search-by-address phone directory, through which he received the former mayor’s phone number. Kaplan left a message for James, and a few days later finally got to ask him about childhood education.

Ferriss is proud of the effort students have put into his contest. “Most people can do absolutely awe-inspiring things,” he said. “Sometimes they just need a little nudge.”

Adam Gottesfeld ’07, a Woodrow Wilson School major, is from Los Angeles.

###

Here’s how impressive networks are built: one superstar at a time.

It’s another case of working smarter and not harder. Readers will recognize that I discuss this topic of contacting mentors at some length in The 4-Hour Workweek, using John Grisham as an example.

Forget about your 500+ connections on LinkedIn. More is often less.

If you could choose only five people in the world to get to know in the 2008, who would they be?

Here are a few I’d enjoy meeting, among others:

The Crystal Method band members
Rick Rubin
Jeff Corwin
Jamiroquai
Francis Ford-Coppola
Hayao Miyazaki

Do you know them? If you do and think a meeting might be fun, please e-mail me via my assistant at amy-at-fourhourworkweek.com Danke!

Posted on: December 10, 2007.

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110 comments on “How to Get George Bush or the CEO of Google on the Phone

  1. Hi Timothy,

    vielen Dank für den sehr interessanten Artikel. Er verstärkt nocheinmal das, was Du bereits in Deinem Buch geschrieben hast.
    Viel Erfolg bei Kontakten Deiner “band members”.
    Jörg

    PS: Ich habe diesen Kommentar auf Deutsch geschrieben, weil ich hoffe, damit die einen oder anderen Deiner Leser zu motivieren, sich etwas verstärkt auch in anderen Sprachen auszudrücken. Du hast dazu ja ebenfalls bereits sehr gute Tipps gegeben.

    ###

    Thanks, Jorg! I’m confident I’ll meet at least Crystal Method — those guys rock, and I bboyed (breakdanced) to them for about 4 years. Thanks for the German comment and keep an eye on the blog for my upcoming visit to Germany in 2008 :)

    Viel Spass,

    Tim

    Like

  2. In no significant order:

    1. Christopher Nolan
    2. John Carmack
    3. General Petraeus
    4. Peter Thiel
    5. Javier Bardem

    Someone drop me a line if you know any of these guys

    Like

  3. The people I’d always want to meet would be less about establishing a commodity for my own network and more about a genuine interest in where thoughts come from. I’d like to be able to bounce a new idea off a bright mind, or to ask about their own thoughts on a matter. For this, I’d love to be able to offer a cup of tea to Stephen Fry, or meet for a beer with Simon Schama or Rory Stewart. Also, though I’ve only recently been introduced to this blog and have yet to read your book, I wouldn’t mind being able to ask a question or two to Tim Ferris.

    Like

  4. Wow Tim, you never cease to impress…you’ve got some awesome taste in pop culture! What got you into TCM? I love those guys too — Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland.

    Thanks for your encouraging article…I’ve been thinking of writing something about networking and your thoughts reflect my own philosophy spot on. I can’t say how much blogging–and the willingness to *just do it* and send an email/initiate a conversation–has increased my network and my business. I’ve got some great mentors and great acquaintances. But, the key is to always seek out people whom you share a sincere common interest with.

    Great question about who we *most* want to meet in ’08. I’ll have to get started on my NY resolutions!

    Like

  5. Great article, especially the examples of getting personal contact info. It’s inspiring, but you have to admit that people are usually more receptive to students and view others as business competitors (not always, and it depends on the approach, but it happens.)

    Like

  6. Good article, but it’s odd that of all the people in the world, the person chose to contact Sharpe James, the long-corrupt former mayor of Newark currently under indictment for corruption charges.

    Like

  7. I met Rick Rubin at a Weezer/Foo Fighters concert at Oakland Arena. On reflection, it made sense he was there because he just produced Weezer’s ‘Make Believe’ during which Rivers Cuomo spent some time living at his house.

    Anyway, the crowd was mostly teenyboppers, as arena crowds tend to be. So, I think I may have been the only one to notice the Yeti that is Rick Rubin standing near the sound board.

    To your point of saying something interesting, I told him I was interested in hearing his upcoming work with Neil Diamond, with whom he did a Johnny-Cash-American-style-voice-and-guitar album. I must have hit the mark in being obscure enough to show real interest, because Rick gave me a nice handshake, raised his eyebrows, and left me with a few nuggets of wisdom.

    He didn’t stay for the Foos.

    Like

  8. TIm,

    Kick a$$ article. I have recently started compiling a list of people whom I would like to meet or ask questions to. I was fortunate enough to have a 20 minute conversation with one of these people recenlty!! It is very important to surround yourself with people whom either have more experience or have a different outlook that you admire. I am committed to getting myself more in the loop, this is out of deep fascination with what has made people happy and successful.

    Buena Suerte!!!!!!

    Jose Castro-Frenzel

    Like

  9. Great observations! Networking smart is a rainmaker skill and can be learned and taught. Perhaps another title for this post could be “The art of the ice-breaker” I agree that every great introduction should be a reciprocal win-win exchange. Nobody (especially the super busy, hard to reach)likes the Gim-me rants or “can you help me” from strangers, but after receiving a gift or an interesting dialog, the dynamics often quickly change.

    example, I once sent an article out of the economist to a busy broker whom I barely knew, he sent me an in-depth research report ($1000 subscription) and put me on the mailing list for future market updates, then we shared baby pictures! Similar things happen all the time. Keep it up and you realize why they say Network=Net Worth.

    Thanks Tim for keeping life inspiring! And keep dreaming BIG!

    Nate

    Like

  10. Nate,

    Thanks for sharing that bit of information. I liked your story, its inspiring to hear about people actually getting results.

    Have a great day

    Jose Castro Frenzel

    Like

  11. Tim –

    I love the round-trip ticket challenge. Here’s a suggestion for an additional prize: Offer a round-trip bus ticket (anywhere in the US or Mexico) to the person who receives the rudest rejection email from a high-profile target. Could be a nice way to teach people not to take rejections too seriously/personally.

    Finally, when you get through to Jamiroquai, do me a favor and ask him if he felt slighted my the music media when the members of OK Go were labled as “visionaries” for their “Here is goes again” treadmill video (when in fact, one could make the argument that the “Here it goes” video was just a low-budget basement knockoff of “Virtual Insanity”, Jamiroquai’s pioneering treadmill video)

    Have a good one,

    Jake Greene

    Like

  12. Sean, I’ve met Richard Branson and he is one nice fellow! I loved your article Tim, it just goes to show how you can really go beyond your comfort zone, do what few people do and achieve results. My family came to New Zealand as foreigners from a poorish background so I wasn’t born into a well connected family, I’m trying to make my own network.

    I met RB at Christhcurch, New Zealand airport earlier this year as he was coming in for a Virgin staff celebration. I waited at the airport for him all day when all my friends and co-workers at the time said I was crazy and wasting my time. Lo and behold when he stepped off the plane I was one of the first people to greet him and in thus secured and invitation from him to the private party (I set myself a personal challenge I was not to ask anything of him). Not only that but I have a nice signed photo of me and him together on my wall.

    In brief, boldness pays off. (and don’t listen to the naysayers all the time)

    I would love to meet the Google guys, Martha Stewart, and Oprah for a start.

    Like

  13. I’m satisfied about breaking the patterns. Thinking and acting out of the box. Makes a start for a paradigm shift. I’ve had several trainings from Anthony Robbins himself. I attended UPW in 1996 and learned to think out of the box. Sociaty doesn’t understand what you do, let them. I’ve read the 4-hour working week and I’m amazed of the bright ideas. I’m aplying them step by step.

    I wish you all the luck in the world.

    Kind regards

    Peter Wijn.

    Like

  14. Wow! That’s a great story. The five people I would like to meet are (similar to Sean) Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Warren Buffett, Zach Braff and Tim Ferriss. I know. I know. But I seriously think Tim would be a neat guy to get to know. He definitely has a lot of interesting stories.

    Like

  15. Very good and useful article, especially the “less is more” riposte to LinkedIn and its Facebook/MySpace ilk.

    But Marrinan completely abuses Samuel Beckett. He didn’t write, “Fail better. Then win. Then take mini-retirement to Sihanoukville.” Ah, youth.

    Like

  16. Something I read today said that you should ask everyone you meet if they can help you solve your problem. For example, you wind up in Aspen and don’t know of an excellent bed and breakfast that also offers swedish massages (just an example)… To achieve your goal, ask everyone you meet/see if they know of a B&B that offers what you want and eventually, you will find someone who can assist you. There is someone out there who knows what you want to know.

    People I want to meet in 2008:

    – Tim Ferriss :)
    – The Toronto Maple Leafs (or, I would settle on just Brian McCabe)
    – John Mayer
    – Stephen King

    Erin Blaskie
    http://www.bsetc.ca

    Like

  17. Tim all sounds great. I haven’t read your book yet as they’re not in NZ for a few more weeks. I’m really hoping its not just another “Rich Dad Poor Dad” motivational only book, hope its got some real grunty advise.

    Like

  18. Initially I thought I’d like to ask Tim Ferriss a few questions–then I remembered that you’ve already given away plenty of information in your book. Plenty!

    Here’s a problem I have though: My three favorite writers are Ernest Hemingway, Hunter S. Thompson, and Jose Saramago. Two of them took their lives with a shotgun, and the other, as far as I know, only speaks Portuguese. Have you ever had to combat the language barrier in your travels (my guess is no). If so, do you have any suggestions that may help me contact my last living favorite?

    Like

  19. Haruki Murakami
    Jonathan Safran Foer
    Nicole Aragi
    Al Gore
    Sessalee Hensley

    Murakami is known for being a recluse.

    Foer seems somewhat plausible.

    Aragi and Hensley have taken extraordinary precautions to remain unreachable — including, I’m almost certain, never including any contact information online. Although Foer knows Aragi…

    (someone should be able to guess at the “career” I’m going after right now)

    Gore seems more or less undoable. Given some time and the ability/resources to travel, sure, but both are in short supply for me right now (I’m a grad student). And it would really be more for fun than for anything practical (as opposed to the other four).

    So, try to get to know Foer this year? Maybe. But I think it would take me some serious time to figure out how I might pull it off, and I can’t help but wonder if that time might better be spent on the writing itself…

    Like

  20. I thought that was a good point that influencial people and celebrities might be more open to emails about life starting, ‘I’m a student at Princeton..’ rather than ‘I’m a teacher in Japan..’ but we’ll see.

    My List,
    Tim Ferriss (of course!)
    Anthony Robbins
    Richard Branson
    Bill Clinton
    Elon Musk

    Like

  21. People I’d like to meet/ connect with in no particular order

    1. Tim Ferriss (I read about your visit to MIT too late)
    2. Natalie Portman
    3. Matt Damon
    4. LTJ Bukem (inventor of Drum & Bass)
    5. Tom Brady (saw him up close but didn’t actually meet him)

    Like

  22. Be warned – if you want to meet the Crystal Method boys they sure can drink. Not that I have drunk with them, but I did see them play live in an obviously inebriated state. It was still a great show though!

    Like

  23. After some thought my top list would be:

    Anthony Robbins
    Richard Branson
    Oprah
    Bono
    Carlos Slim

    and of course Tim Ferriss, I am certain we will meet, I travel a lot to Germany, especially Hamburg. Keep it coming!!!!!!!

    Enjoy the ride………

    Jose Castro Frenzel

    Like

  24. OH i almost remembered: going to seminars is always a great way to get to meet these innovators. I got a chance to meet Anthony Robbins & Robert Kiyosaki at the Learning Annex in Dallas, 2006. I hope this helps someone.

    Jose

    Like

  25. another great article Tim!

    question:
    do you think attending big seminars is a good way to meet a lot of people fast?
    any advice for maximizing that?
    Any great seminars you recommend? SXSW I will definitely be at.

    thanks
    Victory Darwin

    Like

  26. Since 13, I’ve personally contacted some of the world’s elite for knowledge, friendship or interviews. It was as simple as writing a letter, sending an e-mail or being within a degree of my target. This same ability is also responsible for attracting press coverage — via my OWN PR work — in the Detroit News, Nashville Business Journal, TechCrunch, etc. for “business experiments” I conducted over the years (I’ve been covered by the media since I was 15).

    At 28, I’m still amazed by what I’ve achieved in business relationships and the media. I’ve told myself for years that what I’ve accomplished is of value to someone and that I will eventually discover a vehicle to make a living from it — I simply haven’t figured that out yet.

    Quick backgrounder: I am the product of a deceased Vietnam veteran who fell victim to drug abuse. I spent most of my childhood, adolescence and very early adulthood (through 21) life with a single mother just above the poverty line until the early 1990s. I am also the only child.

    Some of the people I’ve been in contact with:

    1. Bill Gates (Chairman and Former CEO, Microsoft)
    2. Donald Schneider (Chairman and Former President, Schneider National Carriers — $3.1 Billion net worth currently)
    3. J.B. Hunt (Founder and Former Chairman, J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. — Company’s revenues exceed $3 Billion annually)
    4. Mark Spencer (Founder and CTO, Digium — Develop’s the world’s most popular open source PBX, Asterisk)
    5. David Mandelstam (Founder and President, Sangoma)
    6. Alec Saunders (Former Microsoft executive — Responsible for launch of Internet Explorer, Windows 95, etc.)
    7. Craig Newmark (Founder, Craigslist)
    8. Michael McDonald (Grammy winning recording artist and former lead of the Doobie Brothers)
    9. Kem (Multi-platinum Universal Records recording artist)
    10. Kent Wien (American Airlines pilot and Grandson of aviation pioneer Noel Wien)
    11. Linda Rutherford (Southwest Airlines)
    12. CMU’s Dr. David Farber (“The Grandfather of the Internet” — Here’s the audio interview I conducted with him: http://interviews.direcpod.com/2007/01/08/interview-with-the-grandfather-of-the-internet-dr-david-farber)
    13. David Friend (CEO, Carbonite)
    14. Stephen Meer (CTO and Co-Founder, Intrado — Responsible for the technology behind our nation’s 911 infrastructure)
    15. Kevin Rose (Founder, Digg.com — The world’s leading social networking and news site)
    16. Rakesh Mathur, Brad Husick and Beerud Sheth (Co-Founders of Webaroo, creator of the “Offline Internet” technology)
    17. Alex Tew (Founder of the Million Dollar homepage — My interview with Tew was the only one granted outside of the mainstream media)

    This is just a sample of folks I’ve managed to contact all on my own. I estimate that I’ve corresponded with at least 50 such individuals. There’s also the former CEO of Covad, executives at Qualcomm and others.

    The one thing I’ve noted was the mindset when I set out to contact these people. It was a “can do” attitude and it’s the primary reason why I succeeded in reaching them.

    Tim — I think I’ve more than exceeded the challenge in your book. I’ve been doing so well before your book was ever released. What’s my prize? :)

    Ronald Lewis
    Denver, Colorado

    Like

  27. I have a tendency to write kudos or nastygrams to people who do particularly noteworthy things for which they might not normally get feedback. One time I was moved by something that the now former Chief Astronomer of the Vatican Father Coyne had said. A little bit of searching and I dashed off an email. Sure enough he responded and we had a short but very interesting exchange. Awesome guy!

    Like

  28. Tim,

    What does it constitute a personal contact? What are the measurement?

    Does getting contact through blog comments and forums from a hard to reach person counts or do I need to accomplish through personal contact such as personal telephone number or e-mail address?

    Does meet someone at some event such as conference or seminars counts? Or you must hold them to some personal event such having dinner together, a meeting, or playing golf?

    Thanks,
    Joe

    Like

  29. hola from india, tim! i am amar deb – and i head a music television channel in india – channel [v]. this piece blew me away for 2 reasons: 1/ i was just telling someone at work about trying and trying again till they succeed-that’s how i keep going.

    2/ and after i read jim rogers’ [big commodities guru – got very inspired and mailed him – and got a reply in 2 hours because i mentioned indian sea food and beer!
    point taken, now when can we see you on our sets?!!
    cheers,
    amar

    Like

  30. Great post. I’m an entrepreneur and fitness trainer in L.A. who discovered you by way of Eric Mueller. A few weeks ago, I decided to 93-year-old fitness legend Jack LaLanne, for an interview. Imagine my surprise when he AGREED. You might enjoy reading the interview, online at my blog, PEACE LOVE LUNGES (www.peacelovelunges.com).

    My fitness related Interviews for 2008:
    -Arnold Schwarzenegger
    -Alanis Morrissette
    -Oprah Winfrey
    -Bill Clinton
    -Bob Paris

    Like

  31. I’ve met Scott McNealy (CEO of SUN Microsystems) and Zino Davidoff (Cigars Manufacturer) a long time ago.

    People I’d like to meet?
    – Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad)
    – David Bach (Automatic Millionnaire)
    – Tim Ferris (after I’ve finished your book…)

    and a few other less known personalities…

    Like

  32. In no particular order:

    Sir Richard Branson
    Bill & Melinda Gates
    Timothy Ferriss (seriously)
    Evander Holyfield
    Michael Johnson (Olympic Sprinter)

    Then I have 2 more after my initial 5:

    Peter Lik (famous landscape photographer)
    David Jay (wedding photographer)

    Like

  33. Dear Tim,

    This is off topic, but your contact page says the best way to pose a question is to post it on the blog.

    Ever since I read the book I’ve been fascinated by your audio tape, How I Beat the Ivy League, and wish that your mom had saved at least one copy for me.

    I have 15 year old boy and the thought that he may not make it into college haunts him. He is disorganized, terrible at math and will probably never get great SAT scores. His modest dream is to go to the local state university (not so modest these days with stringent requirements).

    Can you write a post sometime with the wisdom that was in those tapes? I would be so grateful!!

    Now my list so as not to be totally off topic. I want to meet.
    1. Tim Ferris
    2. Amy Ephron (writer and film producer)
    3. The Dali Lama
    4. Dakota Fanning
    5. Alan Ladd Jr.

    Thanks, Tim.

    Heather

    Like

  34. I have tried this – and it works! My first attempt was to contact you, the man himself, Tim Ferris, and after a few witty emails and some light self-deprecation relating to learning disorders and fortune 500 ceo’s, you responded personally. Though, Mr. Ferris, we only had one exchange! I needed to work on building a relationship – so my next attempt was Guy Kawasaki, and now we have exchanged a few emails and have critiqued each others’ web sites – and he’s a great guy to email with.

    Thanks for the article Tim and I hope to hear back from you!

    Matt

    Like

  35. Had to chuckle a little when you mentioned Jamiroquai. That was definitely my get drunk and dance around my friends apartment when I was 21ish. So many laugh my ass off good times to that music.
    Someone above mentioned Chuck Palahniuk (sorry, I know theres an H and cant quite figure out where to put it) and a friend of mine actually met him a few times in Oregon. I guess he was a regular where he was working. He had come very interesting conversations with him, so let me say that would be a contact well worth pursuing.
    As far as my list goes, I tend to be inspired by a certain experience – I dont really have a running tally of people I would like to meet. I suppose I should start one.

    Like

  36. Sports Business Blogger: A friend of mine knows Mark Zuckerberg through extraordinary circumstances. He’s planning on bringing him down for a Facebook Developer Conference in Malaysia next year. Drop by ;)

    Amar: Funny you mention Channel [V]. I was once a massive fan of the International channel and made a fansite for them. That one website made me [V]‘s star girl and I became friends with a lot of the crew. Although the crew has changed and they’ve relocated, I still managed to score myself a job with them last year (unfortunately by that point I had already fallen out of love with music TV, but it took being in that job to learn that!!). I struck up a penpalship with Asha Gill, who was their flagship host, and now we’re as close as sisters. One of my ex-colleagues at [V] also won the Asian Amazing Race and is now world famous, haha.

    As for me: I’m trying to apply and fundraise for the KaosPilots at first and I’m pulling out all stops on getting there. I emailed as many KP International Board members as I could find and it’s surprising how responsive they are! Most of them replied wishing me luck and giving some suggestions. One (Michael Doneman) was in my university and we’ve struck up a friendship. Another, Ouafa Rian, was AMAZING – she replied in seconds, gave all sorts of ideas, and even connected me to a whole bunch of other people. Their founder, Uffe Elbaek, was also friendly and approachable. Yay :D

    I’ve written letters to people in Australian parliament too asking about youth issues – in Australia, law states that any letter sent to Government must be replied to, and my replies were actually quite well thought out. I also met the Mayor of Brisbane, Campbell Newman, and he’s lovely – when I asked him about making a difference back home under the fear of being arrested, he shook my hand and wished me luck. I was the only one in the whole conference to get a handshake. I also got to meet the Governor of Queensland during a thank-you gathering for volunteers for a festival I worked at. (All this contact with Aussie politicians made my Aussie boyfriend ask “how come you know more in the Government than I do?!” XD)

    In Malaysia bumping into politicians and known people isn’t too uncommon – the entertainment/arts/activist/blogging scene is highly insular so everyone knows someone or is related to someone. My old university used to be a hotbed for young celeb upstarts (or their siblings) and I had classmates in school that were the daughter of a Crown Prince or a Minister or something. Not always the brightest crayon though…

    People I’d Like To Meet In 2008:

    1. Darren Hayes – I have been a fan of his for about 10 years now. He’s responded to things (via fanclub/[V]) by writing and email, but damnit I want to give him a hug.
    2. Richard Branson
    3. Oprah Winfrey
    4. The current Minister of Youth in Australia now that they restarted the position
    5. Anyone in a position to fund my KaosPilots journey, lol

    Like

  37. Hey Tim,

    Thought our most recent post on http://www.successtelevision.com might be of interest to anyone out there looking to connect with a writer to help them with a book project…

    “Ever thought about writing a book? Ever stalled out – or just never made it to the starting post? Suspect you just might not be made to do it on your own?

    Well, there’s this best-selling writer we know by the name of Peter Economy whose looking for somebody he can write and publish a book with in 2008, absolutely free of charge!

    Might that person be you?”

    Read the whole post (and listen to our podcast about Peter’s One Book Each Year For Free project) here: http://www.successtelevision.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4879&Itemid=

    Holiday Cheers to all!

    Lissa

    Like

  38. Tim,

    Hey, man!

    Well, I don’t know any on the list but I have:

    1) Given Jeff Corwin a spot on the DB bench press. He can get 70’s for a good 8-10 reps. He also wears organic cotton and hemp clothing. Good to know.

    2) Dined at Coppola’s Turtle Inn restaurant in Placencia, Belize. Yesterday in fact. I had a fantastic beef medallion with balsamic and a bottle of his Diamond series Zinfandel. Superb.

    Let’s just hope I can get the bottle across the border and back to Whitefish, Montana in a week!

    Cheers,
    Nate

    Like

  39. Great post and very good insight. I don’t seem to have developed the courage to fail better. I am still afraid to contact people and to put myself out to ask a question or to make a sale. It does take immense courage to do this. The stories that you give are inspiring and I am glad that your students have taken the challenge and found that they can develop relationships that are meaningful, beyond their comfort zone.

    Like

  40. Thank you very much. This was a great post, and one that I expect will have profound implications for my life. Again, thank you.

    The list of people I would like to meet isn’t quite five long, but I’ve included it below;
    Zach De La Rocha
    Alan Moore
    The Dalia Llama

    A lot of the people I’d really like to meet are dead (John Denver, Philip K. Dick, Jack Kerouac). Oh well.

    Like

  41. I would like to meet the following five people in 2008:
    1.) Angelina Jolie
    2.) Sofia Coppola
    3.) Feist
    4.) Julia Butterfly Hill
    5.) Charlie Red Hawk Thom

    Thank-you for this fun suggestion!

    Like

  42. Hey Tim.

    I read your book over the holidays and enjoyed it very much. You covered topics that I think about a lot – maximum income for minimum time commitment, enjoying life while you are still young, etc.

    One idea that I would like to challenge is the idea that a retail business model is superior to a service business model. I think if the service is delivered by people, then I agree that business kind of sucks because you would need employees and all the headaches that go with that. But if the service is delivered by assets that don’t require maintenance, that is the best business possible.

    As an example, I own an outdoor advertising business (billboard rentals). Businesses rent the billboards on long-term contracts (3-5 years) for a monthly fee. As long as your billboard structures are built properly, you don’t have to do a thing. Just cash cheques every month.

    I could go on and on about the advantages of asset-based businesses that generate recurring revenue. And there are lots of examples. They don’t have to be hard assets either. e.g. subscription-based on-line service.

    Anyway, just wanted to point it out. If you want to talk about it over a margarita in the Carribean some time, send me an email. ;-)

    Like

  43. Not in a particular order:

    * Woody Allen
    * Prince Rogers Nelson
    * Alex Mandossian
    * Mark Shuttleworth
    * Alexandria Brown

    I really start to like your blog and just ordered your book on amazon.
    Yours
    John

    Like

  44. RE: Bruce Springsteen

    Weird.

    Before I read the book I told a Bruce Springsteen fan that I would get him in a room with Bruce. I don’t know Bruce or anyone he knows, I just thought it was an interesting challenge. I was sort of loosing faith as Bruce is very closed and private and I don’t blame him, but my pal is a 40 year-old-father of 3 who is one of the coolest, smartest people I know and it would literally make his year to simply just shake Bruce’s hand. He’s been to over 20 concerts (nothing all that un-heard of in the Bruce Mania world) but I’ve never seen anyone more than twice…so he’s way out of my league.

    Just interesting that this happened and then 2 months later I’m reading this book. Energy and ideas are so very connective it’s amazing.

    Cheers!
    jen

    Like

  45. Tim,
    love the article.

    I have myself experienced the results of connecting and networking with others and my success wouldn’t have been the same without some of the mentors and the people I have had the priviledge to network with.

    Two years ago I had the chance to meet with Hillary Clinton – not much into politics at the moment – although that intrigues me as well – but the meeting was a result of networking too – and it was almost random.

    I know I am late perhaps compared to other people here, but just bought your book a couple of nights ago and can’t put it down man, I am almost done with it – Great Stuff!

    I had meant to buy it after finishing the ones I had on hand, but I was persuaded quite well by a mutual contact of ours… you were at her house on her birthday recently!

    You and I seem to have been in a few similar situations so I can relate to the book quite well.

    I too had an office job until I quit it and am making lots more than what I was, working less…at 25-yrs old. Not to mention my passion for ballroom dancing… studied it in MN with some of the best and vibrant instructors in my opinion!

    Was wondering… of all the places you have visited, which has been one that if you were to pack up and leave today, you would do it in a blink of an eye?

    Best,
    Nik D’Angelo

    ###

    Hi Nik,

    Of all of the places I’ve been? Hmmm…. I’d put Argentina and Berlin at the very top. I could live, and have lived, in both. Good dancers in both spots :)

    Pura vida,

    Tim

    Like

  46. Tim,

    Just wanted you to know that your work has affected another young guy’s course in life. I’m a 19 year old winemaking student at the University of California at Davis and am currently implementing some of your ideas after reading 4HWW.

    This article just helped me land a job in the department chair’s research lab. I had a lot of trouble getting in touch with professors and getting advice/audience from them. However, I am now working my own hours after expressing my desire to be most efficient. I suggested that my duties would be best accomplished in about 30 minutes several times a week while I have classes nearby the lab. This has proved to be so much easier than spending all day on Thursdays cleaning glassware like I had initially agreed to. I hope my new accomplishment will give me the connections and recommendations to make it to the top of this business.

    Your the man Tim Ferris. I will continue to utilize some of your other ideas, especially in regard to travel and quickly learning languages. I know you are a wine aficionado; expect a case from my first professional vintage on the doorstep of whatever corner of the world you are vagabonding in.

    …and please stop by for a drink once I somehow engineer a way to acquire my own vineyard in Argentina.

    Much respect,

    Michael Keba

    ###

    Congratulations, Michael! Meeting up for wine in Argentina is on the map :)

    Tim

    Like

  47. Tim,

    You are awesome and inspirational. I’ve organised several volunteer trips to CR, and when I saw your video at La Forutuna, I just about died. Its crazy to think that I was swimming under that very fall just a few months before you. (BTW when I went it was PACKED, I was shocked to see that you were the only person there.) Anyway, be sure to post ahead of time if you ever decide to go there again; perhaps we can meet up for a cup of coffee, or I can show you the school that I helped renovate.

    Anyway I am in dire need of your (or anyone’s) help. I NEED to get Dr. Jerry Buss in my circle. He owns the LA Lakers. He went to USC, I go to USC. He made his money in Real Estate, Im majoring in Real Estate Finance. He made it to the final table at the world series of poker, I am an avid poker player. I have exhausted every thinkable avenue, and am basically still where I started. USC is of NO help. I think I am going to target his daughter, Jeanie Buss next (She’s the VP of Business Operations for the team and girlfriend of Phil Jackson). If anyone has any idea as to how if could even acquire Dr. Buss or Jeanie’s e-mail or phone number, I would greatly appreciate it.

    Thanks.
    And keep up the great posts,
    Tyler V.

    Like

  48. 1. Samantha Power
    2. Angelina Jolie
    3. Mary Robinson, former high commissioner of human rights
    4. Paul Farmer
    5. Ronald D Moore or Joss Whedon or cinematographer from Children of Men

    Like

  49. Radar has a hilarious segment where Bill Geerhart posed as a 10 year old boy to contact people like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld (on tree-fort diplomacy) members of the Supreme Court, Larry Flynt and others. The site has scans of the actual responses! Charlie Manson is scary.

    If a 10 year old can get a response, surely we can!

    http://www.radarmagazine.com/from-the-magazine/2008/04/letter_to_charles_manson_richard_ramirez_ted_kacyinski_bill.php

    Like

  50. Tim Ferriss,

    Just came across your blog through a friend referral. Good stuff man..so much to learn..keep up the good work!
    Here are 5 people I would like to get to know in 2008

    1.Lance Armstrong
    2.Steven Spielberg
    3.Eric Schmidt
    4.Warren Buffet
    5.Arundhati Roy

    Like

  51. Guess what? We all just built our own network with these comments. Now I know I’m just an email away to some of you members in case I need to contact someone important.

    Like

  52. Hi Tim, I just found this link on NSCS’s website for your challenge… I had previously been posting my responses on your latest blogs. ..SORRY. I was able to meet an untouchable but I didn’t know it had to be on the phone… a minor detail… anyways, I met Tony Dungy, the Colts football coach and I asked him “If he ever considered recruiting from North Dakota State University” which he said and wrote “Yes we look everywhere” and then I asked him “What has helped him get through the tough times in life” and he responded “Keep eyes on the Lord.”

    Lance

    Like

  53. Hey there Tim, I attended the NSCS convention and decided to rise to your challenge. Today I talked to Hugh L. McColl Jr. on the phone. He is the former CEO of Bank of America widely noted for the bank’s immense growth over the years. Currently he is the chairman of McColl Partners investment bankers. I asked him “if he had any current projects going on to better the Charlotte community,” as he is known for dropping millions on projects that the city would normally be required to pay for. He responded saying “Possibly the only major project I have going on right now is talking to Rhode Island School of Design in order to persuade them in bringing a branch here to Charlotte, much like we did to get Johnson & Whales University to come to Charlotte.” I then asked him “Why, if any reason, he had such a large collection on Marine paintings in his McColl Fine Art museum.” He told me “that he loves to go sailing, loves the sea, and often reads novels based in a marine setting, so that must be why I liked those marine paintings so much.”

    Thank you for this opportunity Tim Ferriss, it has really opened my eyes to what we are capable of doing with a little effort. Even if I don’t win this competition do you think it would be possible for me to get a copy of your book with the original title? Once again thank you for this opportunity and just so you know I still plan on meeting my back-up untouchable, Muggsy Bogues, former pro basketball player for the Charlotte, Hornets. Just for fun.

    Like

  54. NSCS Convention
    Tim Ferriss Challenge
    7/31/08

    Dear Mr. Ferriss:

    I am writing in regards to your challenge of contacting a celebrity or president from the NSCS convention. Here is my result from contacting the president of a major company:

    I am a collector of Swatch watches (a Swiss watch company which is also the largest in the world), and I am a member of the Swatch Club. Since there are no Swatch stores relatively close to Minnesota, where I live, I thought it would be a great idea to open a store in the Mall of America. This mall generates a large amount of traffic, as well as international tourists, so it is a good location. A while ago, I wrote a persuasive letter to Mr. Nicholas G. Hayek (the president and founder of Swatch) of my idea. He responded with a letter stating that he thought it was a really good idea, and that he would put the U.S. Swatch Team to work on it. Today there is a Swatch store in the Mall of America, as a result of my contact with Nicholas Hayek, and I was also offered a job there. I have visited the store often and it has been a successful venture for the Swatch company.

    If you are interested in more information about Swatch, the Swatch website is: http://www.swatch.com. Also, if you would like to see a copy of the letter or if you have any questions, please contact me.

    Thanks,

    Dana Springer
    NSCS Treasurer
    St. Cloud State University
    spda0501@stcloudstate.edu
    320-491-9607

    Like

  55. NSCS Convension Challenge
    8/1/08

    Mr. Ferris,

    My name is Danielle Bradley from Baylor University. I attended the NSCS Convention in Florida where you presented us with the challenge to reach an unreachable person. Normally, I am not one for confrontation, but after hearing the challenge I resolutely decided that I was going to do it. I knew that if I set my mind to it, I could accomplish the task. The first step I took was to call my mom in order to have accountability. We began brainstorming all the people that I had connections to or could get connections to. We ended up with a list of various people including President Bush, Charlie Crist, Governor of Florida, Jack Nicklaus, professional golfer, Health Evans of the Patriots, Justice Thomas Chambers of the Supreme Court, Donald Trump, and John Maxwell. The questions I wanted to ask were, “What were your goals and dreams that got you to where you were today? and What would you say were the main contributing factors to you reaching your goals?” I thought, “Why don’t I just contact all of them to see how these people in these different professions relate and differ?” So that is what I did. After several phone calls through scheduling offices and personal lines, and emails and faxes, I ended up with a response from John Maxwell. He said his dream was to make a difference in people’s lives and the contributing factors are loving what he does and being gifted to do what he loves. I actually got his response within a day, just before he left for a family vacation. I also talked with the scheduling office at the White House numerous times. I talked to them on July 22 and was told that I would receive a response but it would be in 2 to 3 weeks. When I receive his response I will post it on the blog. As for the other people, I talked to all their secretaries many times and was told by each of them that I needed the information written. So I faxed them everthing. I followed up as well many times but still received no reply.

    However, to reach the climax of my adventure, I will be receiving a reponse from the President of Israel. This has been the most recent development. At the beginning of this week, I talked with friends that are over in Europe and they told me that I could get a response from either Bill Clinton or the President of Israel, Shimon Peres. I was given the email of the lady I needed to contact and emailed her the information along with my resume. After a few days, I still did not receive a response. However, today I found out I was given the wrong email. Yet, I have spoken with my friends in Europe and it has gotten worked out that I will receive a response from President Peres. I should receive a response today, and if not today, then it will be posted by Monday.

    I realize that I may not have been 100% successful in my goal, however, I learned a quote by John Wooden that says that success occurs when you know you made “the best effort to become the best of which you are capable.” I learned a great deal about myself through this challenge. I learned that I can do whatever I set my mind to. I leaned that anything is really possible if you set your mind to achieve your goals. This challenge has set me up for success in life. No longer am I fearful of contacting a person in a respectable position, rather I have confidence in myself to achieve my goals. This challenge has been extremely rewarding.I look forward to updating you on the responses I receive in the next few days, if not later on today.

    Thank you for this challenge and for pushing students beyond their limits.

    Danielle Bradley
    danielle_bradley@baylor.edu
    561-315-4041

    Like

  56. If you run for office, even a local office like mayor, work that into your initial contact with people and businesses. I found that it gets past the gate keepers and the important people return you call or email faster than you would imagine.

    Most people don’t have the courage to run for office because they are afraid of rejection and failure, therefore you will command respect just by taking action and throwing your hat into the ring.

    Like

  57. I really enjoyed this post. My question to you is how do you go about finding the right mentor? I for some reason feel really empowered by this post and really want to try it, except I don’t know where to begin!

    Like

  58. Hi Tim,
    My name is max ,I am nineteen years old and live in Sacramento CA. After reading this article its given me the know how and courage to help pursue, my still seemingly impossible dream of being a well connected and successful professional photographer. The saying of its not what you know its who you know couldn’t be more accurate than in the art world. you see how this tool could help me. I want to first try and contact either Linda Ronstadt . My plan is to contact my city’s mayor,( Kevin Johnson)who I have met on several occasions. Johnson could get the personal email of San Jose, Chuck Reed who recently was a part of an event involving Linda Ronstadt. I sure hope this works.

    Ps: I wouldn’t mind meeting Jeff Corwin also, I think he is awesome. You should drop by sac some time I would love to attend one of your talks.

    Like

  59. I stumbled upon this page with little or no thought into what it was, now it feels as though I am meant to be here. Never before have I felt like reading a blog had so much meaning nor that I didn’t want to stop. I have fallen madly in love with Tim Ferriss’s work, and now I feel like someone trying to contact Bill Clinton (someone who seems famous to me).

    One day, I will have as much meaning in my life as the people in this blog.

    Thank you Tim.

    Like

  60. Hi.
    Thank you for this most pleasant and cultivating lecture. It’s nice to know that there are reachable ways to get in touch with “the peak of the iceberg”.
    Advise, and more often, just the opportunity to have a decent conversation with a top-name is more than helpful in opening one’s eyes to their own capabilities.
    The downside to all this is that the community is quite geographically separated, and for someone from a country that is not that opened to high-end science and technologies, it is quite a challenge to get in touch, and, better yet, maintain a “virtual” relationship with leading voices of the IT, web, or graphic design community.
    Anyway, let’s hope that the globalist tendencies will overcome this geographical barriers.
    Regards,
    Daniel.

    Like

  61. Dude.
    I read your book.
    Got to the part about cold calling people who are really awesome.
    Cold called Bob Dudley, the new CEO of British Petroleum.
    Traded email addresses with his wife.

    Best part:
    It has only been 30 hours since I decided to call him.
    You have changed my life forever.

    Thank you so much.

    Like

  62. In no significant order (I know it’s not 2008, but I feel this is relevant to me):

    1.Oprah Winfrey
    2.Jay Leno
    3.Clint Eastwood
    4. You!
    5. Arlene Dickinson

    Like

  63. I was wondering when you suggest contacting individuals in power or with a certain kind of status, are you saying just for curiosity purposes or would it be okay to attempt to discuss business, if you have a product that you believe they could use or have interest in?

    Like