Over the past year of interviewing CEOs and venture capitalists, I noticed an interesting, potentially counter intuitive trend: some of the most successful people are also the most accessible.
It’s counter intuitive because one would think that as someone becomes more famous/important/successful, the importance and number of people calling on that person would rise, leaving no space for the “average” person in their busy lives.
My experience completely contradicts this. sits on half a dozen boards, writes three blog posts a day and is always training for a marathon and yet he took the time to give me several interesting ideas for my Fulbright research. looks at between 5-10 bplans a day, blogs/microblogs/audioblogs incessantly, and seems to constantly be hanging out with his kids during any spare moment, and yet finds time to comment on my blog, circulation circa 60. Peter Barris had to cancel our first meeting because he had to smooth talk some foreign diplomat into letting his company launch a satellite into space, but he made absolutely sure to follow up with me. The list of amazing people i’m indebted to goes on and on. Thank you so much.
Why do successful people make the time? I think there are a couple of reasons:
1) Successful people are open to opportunity. You never know where it is going to come from, so you’ve got to keep your ears open. If you tune people out with a superficial filter-just because they aren’t already important, famous, or powerful- then you are never going to catch the superstars of tomorrow.
2) Successful people pay Karma forward. I’m not even being spiritual here. If you give someone an opportunity, even if they don’t end up benefiting you immediately, they will remember that you helped them and will go out of their way to help you down the line.
3) Successful people are just plain efficient. Who in gods name is typing blog posts from the treadmill anyway? Further support for the maxim “If you need something done, give it to the busiest person you know.” Lord knows this has held true in my own life.
4) Successful people are nice. These people are people too. If you are nice and are talking about something they are interested in, why wouldn’t they want to talk to you?
Note: I’m not saying that everyone should start harassing the most famous people they can think of, but I am saying that anyone can contribute to anyone else’s life. There’s no reason to be afraid to approach someone if you have their best interests in mind. It pays to be good.