By: Marla Tabaka
Need a mentor? Why not reach for the stars? Five strategies to bring your idol into your life.
Imagine attending an event featuring a speaker or performer you absolutely revere: someone you nearly idolize. Now imagine gathering the courage to approach them and ask for a favor or opportunity. Go ahead, close your eyes and visualize this big break as though it’s happening right now.
How likely are you to put yourself on the line like that? You may be thinking: I would never have the nerve, or, what if he said no? Choose your excuse du jour–because I know you have one.
Setting all excuses and doubts aside, who would you choose to approach for a few words of wisdom or guidance if you could? What if I challenged you to initiate contact with this über successful, even untouchable person today? Would you brush it off, thinking it’s impossible? Don’t do that!
These opportunities are more readily available than you may believe. The problem is that most people won’t pursue them. But what have you got to lose? What’s a little risk compared to the challenges that you’ve already faced? That’s what one brave teen may have been thinking just a few months ago when he took the chance of a lifetime.
During a Q&A at Vanderbilt University, freshman Michael Pollack took a huge emotional risk by asking Billy Joel, his childhood idol, for an opportunity that would change his life forever. Motivated by his student peers, Pollack stood up, voice quivering, and asked if he could accompany Joel on the piano during one of the classics, “New York State of Mind.” To his surprise, Joel agreed. Pollack raced to the stage without looking back.
After a mind-blowing performance that’s since had more than one million YouTube viewers, Joel told the audience to never forget the name Michael Pollack. Since then Pollack’s story has been featured on major network morning and entertainment shows, picked up by Rolling Stone, and has landed him his first-ever music contract. All because Pollack went beyond the fear and took a chance on a dream.
Now, you may not aspire to sharing the stage with a well-known celebrity, but how about sharing a meaningful conversation with someone of celebrity status in your personal or business world? Think big–what’s your ask? How might a little help from someone who may have once been in your shoes affect your life? Sound intriguing? Then why not lay the groundwork today?
Consider these five strategies to bring a celebrity mentor into your life. Remember, it may take months or longer, but one of your personal idols is likely to come through if you’re willing to take the risk.
1. Choose your celebrity-mentor targets.
You may have one true hero, but it’s wise to have more than one person in mind. Who knows, you may not get an answer from Sir Richard Branson, but what about someone who’s achieved phenomenal success in your industry? Or someone who has overcome a huge challenge similar to something you might be facing?
2. Know what you want.
Be prepared with the most meaningful question that you could possibly ask. What is one way your proposed mentor could make a difference in your life? Perhaps a simple retweet from this person would make all the difference to your business. Or, they may be able to connect you with someone you need to know. Make a list of the possibilities and reach for the stars!
3. Put yourself on the playing field.
Where does your celebrity mentor hang out? That’s where you want to be. You could follow Pollack’s lead and buy a ticket to an event where he or she is scheduled to speak. If that’s not possible, at least follow and interact with your idol on social media. You’d be surprised at the number of successful people who do their own social updates. Is it possible to find out who their personal assistant is? If you can get through the gatekeeper the world is your oyster!
4. Look in your own backyard.
One of my celebrity mentors is Jack Canfield. But I once questioned how would I ever get someone of Canfield’s stature to spend time with me? It was easy. I went through my entire list of contacts and approached everyone who I thought might know someone who knows someone. I hit pay dirt when one of the experts I had interviewed introduced me to Canfield’s assistant. After a brief email exchange, she was more than happy to arrange a meeting. I learned more in 90 minutes with Canfield than I ever could have imagined!
5. Don’t take it personally.
Let’s face it: when we reach for the stars we have to jump pretty high. Not all of them are going to be within reach. That’s OK! You may not get a response from your ideal celebrity mentor, but increase the odds of success by bouncing back fast: don’t let the disappointment get to you. Just doing this exercise will increase your confidence by taking you beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone.