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How Gratitude Got Me In Touch With My Favorite Author

After reading "Time Management Magic" by Lee Cockerell, I had a conversation with my co-worker and BreadBox writer Cam Coppelli about Lee Cockerell and my desire to meet him someday, "I would love to spend 20 minutes picking his brain. I really feel like I'd learn so much from him." Cam pondered for a moment, and then suggested, "You should send him a letter, ask him a few questions, and see if he responds." Simple, but brilliant. I decided to start writing a letter to Lee. After I was finished, I had Cam and a few other co-workers look over the letter to ensure its quality.

As I was about to seal the letter in the envelope, I had an idea: what if I put something in the envelop; something to show my gratitude for all I've learned from him? I thought of the perfect thing to put in the envelope: a Starbucks gift card! Lee wrote in his book how he spent every morning at Starbucks, so a gift card there would be of value to him. I drove to Starbucks that morning, bought a $5 gift card, and mailed the letter.

Two weeks went by with no response from Lee, but I remained hopeful. After waiting three weeks, I finally received an email from Lee Cockerell, the retired VP of Operations for Walt Disney World! I was ecstatic! He contacted me!

  Email response from Lee Cockerell

Email response from Lee Cockerell

His response was short, but it provided me with a new theory for getting in contact with role-model leaders: give them something they love as a form of gratitude.

Here's why I think the Starbucks gift card helped me get a response from Lee...

      1. He loves Starbucks coffee

By finding something Lee loved, I was able to honor him by providing him with a free cup of coffee. Doesn't sound like much, but it probably meant a lot to him. Do your research and find what the role-model you look up to loves.

      2. It had value

It's a free gift car, and that's hard to ignore. If I had simply sent him a letter, he could chuck the letter in the garbage and move on. By sending something of value to my role model, I engaged his interests in furthering a conversation with me.

      3. I gave it as a form of gratitude, not for a purchased response

My letter to Lee did not plead for a response, but thanked him for all he taught me through his books and podcasts. I did include a section of questions I'd love for him to answer, but I made sure he understood the gift card was a gift of gratitude, not a purchase of his response. 

Is there a leader, author, role-model, public figure or someone else you'd like to start a conversation with? Use the strategy above. It's not proven to work, but it will humble you and allow you to practice the art of gratitude.

 

Check out my one-on-one conversation with Lee!
Nick SasalaComment