A couple months ago I wrote a blog post about reaching out to 10 people who inspire me. My goal was to meet up with these people and this is how I did:
1. My parents – my biggest inspiration! They came to this country not speaking English, got Ph.D.’s, and I have watched them build multiple successful biotech companies from scratch. I owe my business confidence to them. They show me that ANYTHING is possible if you are willing to work hard for it.
I went up to the Bay Area to see them. I lugged my big desktop computer up so I could spend the week up there (because editing on a laptop just isn’t the same!). It was mellow, low-key. The good stuff!
2. James Altucher – My favorite blogger/author. I reached out to him and he was nice enough to email me back immediately. Our plan is to have lunch and do a little photoshoot. He said that I can photograph him and his wife Claudia as long as they get to photograph me. Haha. He lives in NYC and though I didn’t make it out there before the end of August, I will be heading out there in a couple weeks and I will see if he’s around. He’ll also be in LA to speak at the Amazon tech conference this week, so maybe I can see him here too!
3. Johnny Cupcakes – entrepreneur extraordinaire, Mr. Modern Day Willy Wonka! I thought I was going to have to fly out to Boston to meet up with him but I got lucky. He emailed me back and said he was coming to LA. We had breakfast, talked business, and he gave me a rubber cockroach. He continues to be one of my favorite entrepreneurs. When he has conversation, he is completely, utterly authentic and fully engaged. He truly looks and listens to whoever he’s talking to, as in, “It’s not about me, it’s about you.” He asks a lot of questions. He asks what he can do to help. I have found that truly successful people in this world have this quality. High-five, Johnny.
4. Eckhart Tolle – author and enlightened soul. I didn’t get a hold of Eckhart. He must be busy staring at the sidewalk and seeing the beauty in it. When I asked his “people” if there is any way I could meet up with him, the guy gave a nice “no” but his tone indicated something like – do you know how many people ask that? Eckhart has workshops every so often so I can attend one in the near future and see if I can meet him that way! I think this billboard of him and Oprah is funny.
5. Tim Ferriss – Whoa, he’s floating in this picture! I wrote him, tweeted him, and didn’t hear back. In his book the 4-hour Work Week he talks about reaching out to authors and celebrities as an exercise to build self-confidence, because it’s possible to reach ANYONE (even the president) if you are ballsy enough. I guess I still need to grow a bigger pair. I actually do know what to do to get a hold his phone number but I’ll admit it, I’m still too chicken to call him right now. There’s also this thought that sometimes I prefer things to happen more organically, like bumping into him at a conference. Life seems more romantic that way.
6. Kyle Cease – Comedy Central’s #1 Comedian. I think Kyle is one of the funniest people on this planet. His content speaks TRUTH and the timing of his delivery is hilarious. I reached out to him and he was flattered. I got to spend the day with him and his fiancé Amanda! We went to Agape and then Café Gratitude for dinner. It was a lovely day and I will continue to keep in touch with them. Maybe I’ll even photograph their wedding.
7. Joe Buissink – my FAVORITE wedding photographer! I have loved him since day one. He’s one of the pioneers in wedding photojournalism and still shoots using B&W film. He’s the one who taught me to photograph from the heart . . . to capture those “moments in between moments,” because that’s the good stuff! I first emailed him, and then called him, and then he invited me to come by his studio in Marina del Rey.
When I got there he was editing a celeb wedding and it was comforting to see that, even after decades in the business, he goes through the same exact things (the fun parts and also the frustration) that I do in the editing room. Shortly after he was able to take a break and we chatted about life and business. Love you Joe!!
8. Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Actor and founder of HitRECord. With The Dark Knight, Premium Rush, and Looper coming out in theaters, he’s probably been doing a lot of promoting. I tweeted him but that’s all I did. I feel the same way about him that I do about Tim Ferriss – I prefer to let the universe take care of this one and it might sound strange, but I really feel like I’m going to bump into him in the near future. I photographed one of his events once and I really feel like it’s going to happen again, on a more intimate scale!
9. Michelle Phan – This girl is harder to get a hold of than the rest of the people I didn’t get a hold of! I emailed her a few times, got her phone number, called her, text her, and all those times she did respond but was just too busy to meet up. I also invited her to my dinner party tomorrow night.
I get it – I know how hard she works. Working in social media takes up A LOT of time. She actually lives right down the street from me. I can camp outside her building and scare her one of these days.
10. Kevin & Leslie Alejandro – my favorite couple in the entire universe! I met them through a friend years ago and they have always been great acquaintances. You know how they say that you should get advice from people who are already at where you want to be? The Alejandros are a walking example of generous LOVE and pure GOODNESS. I got to see them before they moved to NYC a few weeks ago. Kevin will be starring in the show Golden Boy debuting this fall on CBS (which films in NYC). I will be going out there in a couple weeks and they have been so gracious to invite me to stay with them! I can’t wait.
Seldom do I look at life as failure, even if things don’t go as planned. I did not get to meet up with half the people on my list but I view it as SUCCESS! I got to hang out with people in the last two months who I didn’t imagine hanging out with. I got out of my comfort zone and put myself out there more than I normally do. I gave myself until the end of August to meet up with these people but that doesn’t mean I have to stop here.
Persistence . . . patience . . . and (as my parents have taught me) work hard and you will have it.