It’s a nice thought experiment to think about which people you would like to meet in order to learn from them. I am a firm believer that you can learn something from anybody, at the least how you don’t want to carry yourself. But there are certainly people, which can teach you more than others. Sometimes a short encounter with someone can plant a seed in your mind and change the trajectory of your life profoundly. Without further ado, my list of 5 people I would like to have a cuppa with:
Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first. If you ask people around the world who they want to meet, he would probably be number one and rightfully so. He is smart, driven and knows how to carry himself. Despite all the stress and responsibility as a former POTUS, he managed to preserve his youthful charisma. Check out his historic keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004:
I recommend his autobiography, which was published in 1995, shortly before he was elected to the Illinois state senate, which is less polished and more authentic than it would be at a later stage of his career. It gives a glimpse into his early thinking and his struggles with his identity as a black man in the States. Our conversation would center mainly around foreign policy, especially US relations with Cuba.
Let’s say I have a wildcard and can choose one dead person. I would choose Bruce Lee. His work ethic speaks for itself, he became a master of martial arts and used his craft to become an action movie icon. Shaping the perception of Asians in the States in the process. Nonetheless, his most impressing characteristic is his charisma and outlook on life. His charisma shines through in this rare interview, give it a go if you have 25 minutes to spare:
The book “The Warrior Within” breaks down his life philosophy, which is a synthesis of eastern and western thinking. I am drawn to practical philosophy, and his outlook on life is timeless. Our main topic of conversation would be philosophy and how to carve out your own path in life.
My third choice is also an athlete: Kobe Bryant. He was the first guard drafted directly out of High School at age 17 in 1996, and he went on to become one of the greatest players in NBA history. After he finished his Lakers career in 2016, he became a venture capitalist and won an Academy Award for his animated short film “Dear Basketball.” Some consider him the Michael Jordan of his generation. While Jordan’s signature trait was his competitiveness, Bryant is famous for his incredible work ethic, which is described in the book “Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant.” The book is a good read for everyone because his example pushes you over the edge to up the ante workwise. We would converse about investing in sport brands and the current state of Basketball. Check out the cold-blooded Black Mamba here:
Elon Musk is the only entrepreneur on my list. He is a visionary and has disrupted at least three different industries (banking, space travel and the car industry). His rise and extraordinary life are chronicled in the book “Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future.” I don’t share his fascination with the colonization of Mars, but I am impressed by his willingness to repeatedly go All-In and risk his fortune in his business ventures. We would talk about the future of the car industry and mobility in general. I like the video of him bragging about his new McLaren as a young millionaire, which shows he is human after all:
Arnold Schwarzenegger is my last pick. He excelled in vastly different fields (bodybuilding, acting, politics) and he used each accomplishment as a stepping stone for his next career move. I like his goal setting and determination, which is described in his autobiography “Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story.” I would ask him for advice regarding my workout regime and general diet. His level of self-belief is also fairly impressive. You can see it in action in the docudrama “Pumping Iron,” which focuses on the IFBB Mr. Universe and 1975 Mr. Olympia competitions. It’s one of my favorite movies because it shows his unique mindset and it captures the 70s gym culture:
Unfortunately, the men on this list have one thing in common, it’s highly unlikely that I am going to meet any of them, because of their status and time restrictions. Therefore, I created a second list of five men I would like to meet, who are slightly less famous and therefore more accessible.
He is a former monk and the founder of Headspace. I use the Headspace App for guided meditations on a daily basis and I like his practical and straightforward lessons presented in his calm voice. If you don’t want to pay for a monthly subscription you can check out his audiobook. Our conversation would center around the role of mindfulness for a happy and fulfilled life. Obviously, I would ask him for a guided meditation at the end of our conversation. Check out his 10-minute Ted Talk on the power of meditation:
The second NBA player on my list. Steven plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder as a 7’0 center. His game is characterized by his physical dominance and relentless rebounding. I like him for his authenticity, which makes for entertaining interviews, which is fairly rare in the current sports media landscape. We would yap about Basketball and random bullshit. Check out this documentary, which chronicles his unique journey from New Zealand to the NBA:
The Scottish adventurer and cyclist Mark Beaumont. I am interested in cycling in South America and stumbled upon his book “The Man Who Cycled the Americas.” I liked the book and read his three other books shortly thereafter. I like his dry sense of humor and adventurous spirit. His background as a university grad, who dreaded the typical 9-5 grind resonates with me. We would talk about cycling and endurance sports in general. Check out his TEDx Talk about following your talents:
The Mexican-American sports writer Shea Serrano. He is working for the Ringer and has written two hilarious books about hip-hop and basketball. I like his unique writing style and sense of humor; his Twitter account is pure gold. He seems like an overall cool cat, and I would ask him to break down my writing. Check out this video with Shea Serrano (video is not his medium) and Scottie Pippen, the dunk is fire though:
The technology writer Ben Thompson. I read his Tech Blog Stratechery religiously, and the level of his analyses is ridiculous. Some next level shit right there. Forget Financial Times and WSJ, Stratechery is where it’s at. The majority of Silicon Valley executives are reading his blog and the rest invested most likely in Juicero. Our Conversation would center around new trends in technology, and I would ask him for a few tech portfolio tips. Nerdy is the new cool:
The truth is that you don’t have to look for famous people in order get valuable advice. You can also look for successful and interesting people in your city, these people are generally more willing to help local up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
I like biographies of successful people because they inspire me to set bigger goals and work harder. While I also read regular business books, biographies are far more useful for me. All men on both lists have one trait in common, which separates the wheat from the chaff: They are all process-driven, which enables them to excel in different fields over the long run. It’s a powerful reminder to always trust the process and put in the necessary work.
The rest is up to you,
1) Barack Obama:
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
2) Bruce Lee:
The Warrior Within: The Philosophies of Bruce Lee
3) Kobe Bryant:
Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant
4) Elon Musk:
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
5) Arnold Schwarzenegger:
Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story
1) Andy Puddicombe:
The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day
2) Steven Adams: –
3) Mark Beaumont:
Africa Solo: My World Record Race from Cairo to Cape Town
The Man Who Cycled the Americas
The Man Who Cycled the World
Around the World in 80 Days: My World Record Breaking Adventure
4) Shea Serrano:
Basketball (and Other Things): A Collection of Questions Asked, Answered, Illustrated
The Rap Year Book: The Most Important Rap Song From Every Year Since 1979, Discussed, Debated, and Deconstructed
5) Ben Thompson:
https://stratechery.com/ (Tech Blog)