Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Meeting Your Idols and Heroes

I was listening to NPR today and they were talking about a director meeting one of his idols. Meeting an idol, as they mentioned, is not always a good thing. So far, thankfully, they have generally been pretty good experiences so far. I have had the great pleasure to meet many wonderful people during my life. Sometimes things go smoothly.

When I met Larry Augustin in 2004 we had a wonderful meeting. We were looking for some advice while we were starting SugarCRM Inc. He very quickly validated our business model and helped clarify the tools that we had at our disposal. That kind of background knowledge directly from one of the founders of the open source movement was invaluable. Over the years, his advice was very valuable and I am pleased to count him as a mentor, friend, and advisor. Larry has later gone on to have a much more active role in SugarCRM Inc. In his current role as CEO, he has helped ramp up the company towards its full potential.

I had the pleasure of meeting one of my favorite authors, when he spoke at our group's convention and then went out to dinner with us. He had tons of fascinating stories. I noticed after a while, that many of the regulars where quite a bit far behind where they could not hear well. I dropped back and asked them what was going on. The response was something like, "yeah, these stories are excellent the first two or three times." I am sure I have managed to bore a few people myself. Have you ever had one of those times where you could not remember someone when you were being reintroduced?

I managed to do that a few months ago with Chris Schiflett. I have actually met him a few times, read his blog on and off, and have read at least a few of his articles and possibly even a book. When Travis Swicegood verified that I knew him I totally spaced and forgot all of that. Sorry Chris. It was me, not you.

Sometimes, I find myself walking around a convention realizing that I recognize up to 50% of the people. After a very short while I find myself in a kind of trance. At that point, it is actually hard for me to recognize people that I know rather well.

There are a few people that I have met where I really don't have much to say to them. For instance, Don Box, when I mentioned that I loved "Essential Com" back in the day, appreciated it, but that was all I had. It made for a bit of an awkward moment. When I was studying excellent speaking, I had just finished reading about Carly Fiorina. A few days later, I had the chance to hear her speak and really wanted to say how impressed I was. Again, not a bad start, but I had nothing to back it up.

Thankfully, I have also had the opportunity to meet tons of other people and things usually proceed much better. Sometimes it is nice to keep people perfect idols and not pull them off the pedestal by meeting the actual human. Personally, I love the chance to meet people. Achievements are more meaningful because we are human, not despite the fact that we are human.

Find and idol and say hello. If they are busy, be respectful. If not, you might get a chance to actually meet them. I think it is worth surrounding yourself with as many wonderful people as possible. The world is full of them.

Happy Hunting,

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