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I would simply ask the person out for coffee, breakfast, or lunch... let them know he or she seems pretty successful at __________, and tell him or her you want to ask some questions about that. Make sure the person knows you have no agenda and that you will treat him or her to the meal.
As an FYI, I asked to do this with successful people on a monthly and rarely has anyone said NO to me.
Thank you Kent! One of the things I worry about the most is them thinking that I have an agenda trying to find out how much money they have.
Buddy...don't let you hold that back at all. That's all in your head. I have been meeting with people for a meal at least monthly for over 20 years and I don't think that has ever come up. I wouldn't bring it up, and if they brought it up, I would think that was weird.
Even more, remember...success is not money. Success means living a full and meaningful life. Success in making a positive impact in some way in this world. Position, power, prestige, and profit...these sometimes are the outcomes or benefits of someone who is successful, but they are not equivalent to success. The most successful people know this.
Help them out! Send them articles that pertain to their area of expertise. Volunteer for an event they run. Comment on their blog. Give, give, give.
And don't forget the power of virtual mentors. Our virtual mentors (books, podcast, etc.) have had a huge impact on our lives.
Thank you Holly! Never really thought about virtual mentors until now!
Hi Jeremy: I agree with Kent on approach and on mindset. What you believe is what others pick up on. So if you believe they're going to say no, they most likely will. They'll sense you have some agenda (but don't know exactly what it is) and will pull away from you. It's human nature.
Years ago, I broke this "they are unapproachable" mindset by buying a very expensive ticket to a charity event where one of my favorite authors was the keynote speaker. During the mix and mingle before the event, people were lined up to meet this author. I grew more nervous as I got closer and finally had to mentally slap myself out of it. I decided to ask him the one question I always wondered about his work. When it was my turn, I introduced myself as a writer (at the time I wasn't yet) and reached across the table and shook his hand. His face lit up and he stood up. Then I asked my question. He smiled and began to answer my question but stopped. He asked me to join him at his table during dinner. WHAT!!!! So we'd have more time to speak, he said, since there were a number of people in line behind me. I sat next to him during dinner and learned a ton from him simply by asking good questions. After dinner he said he invited me to sit with him because from my question he knew we'd have an interesting conversation. Apparently everyone else told him how wonderful he was and how they loved his work, etc. It wasn't "interesting" to him.
After that I approach everyone with a "let's have an interesting conversation" mentality instead of "you're on a pedestal and I don't feel worthy" attitude. I've spoken with several actors, producers, agents, politicians, mayors and even Michael Jackson (before he died, of course).
The lesson is: Don't be afraid. Successful people are people like you and me. The Bible also says, "Ask and you shall receive." You know if God promises it, it's a promise. :)
Thank you Kathryn! Very interesting and encouraging!