Contacting celebrities can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming at first. But in his New York Times bestselling book,‘
,’ lifestyle guru
urges us to step out of our comfort zones with thisassignment:
Call at least one potential superstar mentor per day for three days. E-mail only after attempting a phone call. Irecommend calling before 8:30 a.m. or after 6:00 p.m. to reduce run-ins with secretaries and other gatekeepers.Have a single question in mind, one that you have researched but have been unable to answer yourself. Shoot for ‘A’ players – CEOs, ultrasuccessful entrepreneurs, famous authors, etc. – and don’t aim low to make it lessfrightening.Use
if need be, and base your script on the following.
This is Acme Inc. [or the 'office of Mentor x'].
: Hi, this is Tim Ferriss calling for
, please. [Said casually and with confidence, this alone will getyou through surprisingly often. 'I'd like to speak with Mr./Ms. X, please' is a dead giveaway that you don't knowthem. If you want to up the chances of getting through but risk looking foolish if they call the bluff, ask for the targetmentor by first name only.]
May I ask what this is regarding?
Sure. I know this might sound a bit odd [I use this type of lead-in whenever making off-the-wall requests. Itsoftens it and makes the person curious enough to listen before spitting out an automatic 'no'], but I’m a first-timeauthor and just read his interview in ‘Time Out New York.’ [This answers the questions they'll have in their head:'Who are you and why are you calling now?' I like to be a 'first-time' something to play the sympathy card, and I finda recent media feature online to cite as the trigger for calling] I’m a longtime fan [I call people I'm familiar with. If youcan't call yourself a longtime fan, tell them that you have followed the mentor's career or business exploits for acertain number of years] and have finally built up the courage to [Don't pretend to be strong. Make it clear you'renervous and they'll lower their guard. I often do this even if I'm not nervous] call him for one specific piece of advice.It wouldn’t take more than two minutes of his wtime. Is there any way you can help me get through to him? [Thewording here is critical. Ask them to 'help' you do something] I really, really appreciate whatever you can do.
Hmmm… Just a second. Let me see if he’s available. [two minutes later] Here you go. Good luck. [rings toanother line]
John Grisham here.You: Hi, Mr. Grisham. My name is Tim Ferriss. I know this might sound a bit odd, but I’m a first-time author and alongtime fan. I just read your interview in ‘Time Out New York’ and finally built up the courage to call. I have wantedto ask you for a special piece of advice for a long time and I shouldn’t take more than two minutes of your time. MayI? [Just rework the gatekeeper paragraph for this, and don't dillydally - get to the point quickly and ask for permission to pull the trigger]
Uh… OK. Go ahead, I have to be on a call in a few minutes.You (at the very end of the call): Thank you so much for being so generous with your time. If I have the occasionaltough question – very occasional – is there any chance I could keep in touch via e-email? [End the conversation byopening the door for future contact. Start with e-mail and let the mentoring relationship develop from there].”
How to Get George Bush Sr. or the CEO of Google on the Phone
The article below, titled “Fail Better” and written by Adam Gottesfeld, explores how I teach Princetonstudents to connect with luminary-level business mentors and celebrities of various types. I’ve edited itfor length 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.