How to Become Friends With Your Heroes

Steve's note: A major key to my success in life is making my own luck. It's also responsible for a lot of the fun I've had along the way. Specifically, I've gotten to brush shoulders with a lot of folks I look up to because of it. In the essay below, I share the details and how it's worked for me along the way...


"You're so lucky, Steve... You've gotten to meet and work with all these famous guys..."

When I hear that, I usually say something like, "Yeah, it's hard to believe... I have been pretty fortunate!" And I leave it at that.

But the truth is much different... It's NOT luck. It's NOT good fortune.

There's a secret to doing what I've done. And I will share it with you today...

Maybe there is a bit of "luck" involved... But it didn't happen without me putting myself in luck's line of fire. Let me give you an example of what I mean...

A while back, I knew I was going to have the chance to shake hands with one of my heroes.

When I met him, I could have just said, "Uh, gee, it's nice to meet you. I'm a big fan." But that would have been a missed opportunity.

Instead, I spent a few days thinking before I met him. I came up with a plan to make an impact – to give him a chance to want to get to know me...

I got out a 3-by-5 note card. And I wrote out what I called "12 Ways to Take Over Your Industry." I included my name, phone number, and e-mail address. When I shook his hand, I smiled and handed him the card. And that was that...

He could have easily thrown the card away. He could have thought, "Who is this joker?" He could have taken my suggestions... but still never bothered contacting me. For any number of reasons, he could have ignored me.

Instead, he reached out to me... In the end, he tried all of my dozen ideas, except one. Now, when he wants a second opinion on something (outside of his corporate yes-men), he sends me an e-mail or gives me a call. And he has included me in events around the world and decisions that I've been grateful and flattered to be a part of.

The best part, to me, is that I can call a hero of mine a friend as well.

That didn't happen because I'm "lucky." It happened because of a simple secret. There are two parts to it:

  1. Whenever there is any moment – any crack in the door to put your foot in to meet your hero – you must shove your foot in... and not let it out.
  1. You must find a way to give a big benefit to your hero without asking for anything in return.

Then you're off... At that point, you have done your best to kick off a potential legitimate friendship.

I often had to create these moments. Usually, they don't just happen.

For example, a few years ago, I ended up on the phone with another hero of mine. He said, "Next time you're in Nashville, give me a call and we can get together." Look, I'm NEVER in Nashville... But I went to Nashville that week. (I re-routed a flight to have a long layover there.)

I made it happen when the opportunity came up. And it was a fantastic few hours. Another hero of mine is now a friend of mine, too.

Most of the time, it doesn't work out this way. But it's 100% worth trying... Your downside risk is a little wasted effort. Your upside is a legitimate friendship with one of your heroes. That's worth it to me!

You can do it. You have to get creative to create the opportunity. You have to offer something that benefits your hero. And you have to do it without asking for anything in return.

You have to create your "luck."

It has worked for me. I have been able to get close to many of my heroes – both in business and in my hobbies. And I believe it can work for you, too...

How cool is it to have your heroes as your friends? Just follow these tips, figure out your opportunity, and go for it... You can do it...

Good investing,

Steve

Editor's note: The markets and our offices will be closed tomorrow for Christmas Day. We'll pick up again with our classic essays on Monday, after the Weekend Edition. Until then, enjoy the holiday!

Further Reading

"You can't just hand off your life and hope it goes OK," Steve writes. Successful people aren't successful because they let other people take responsibility of their lives for them. If you want to make real money, you have to take control for yourself... Get the full story here: Investment Advice TO a World Champ.

"How do rich people continue to make money?" Steve asks. In a discussion with professionals in the stock market world, Steve discovers the answer... Read more here: Two Reasons Rich People Keep Getting Richer.