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4 steps to get a successful or famous stranger to say yes to you…

Would you like to invite someone successful, fascinating or famous to talk to you? Would you like to help a client pitch to an investor? Would you like an extraordinary leader to become your client?

Then you need to put yourself in the shoes of the person across the table. 

You need to think like they think…

Alex Danco is a blogger who started a new job at Shopify, 6 months ago. 

When he began, he asked everyone at the company for their best advice on how to succeed in his first year.

The advice he got is something every coach and leader needs to internalize, if they want strangers to say yes to them, on a regular basis… 

“In your first 6 months, here is your number one job… Familiarize yourself with the dozen senior people at Shopify who have the final call on really important decisions, from Tobi and Harley on down. You need to familiarize yourself with their operating philosophy around business and around how Shopify works. 

Go consume every written memo and every podcast episode they’ve ever done, get inside their heads, learn their perspectives and their preferences, and learn what gets them to say Yes to things. 

Here’s why this is your most important job… In your first six months, you’re gonna be useless anyways. You’re going to be drowning in new information and context and it’ll take you a few months to learn how to swim. But then once you do, you need to become effective. 

And in order to be effective, you need to know how to get those people to say Yes to things, and how they would think through a decision down to a detailed level. 

If you can do that, then you can get basically anything you want done. If you can’t do that, then you’re never going to get anything done. Therefore, this is your most important job right now.”

4 steps to get a stranger to say yes… 

  1. Think of someone successful, fascinating or famous you’d love to talk to. Or think of an extraordinary leader you’d love to have as a client.
  2. Research them. Listen to every podcast they’ve recorded, watch every video they’ve made, read every interview, book or article they’ve written. Read every company report, CEO newsletter, annual letter to shareholders, or newspaper article about them. 

Get inside their heads, learn their perspectives and their preferences, and learn what they say yes to… 

  1. Research who you have in common. Facebook and LinkedIn are fantastic for this. You’re often much closer to people than you would imagine. 

If you discover that you’re one or two degrees of separation away from them, your first mission is to speak to the person you have in common. 

A genuine heartfelt conversation will feel good to them. Don’t try to pretend you’re not interested to speak to their friend. Be honest. “I saw on LinkedIn that you’re connected with ______. I just read her book. Do you know if she ever does interviews?” “I’ve been researching ______ for a book I’m writing. Do you think they might have ten minutes for me to ask a couple of questions about their latest project?”

  1. Cold emails are a little strange. They mostly won’t work. But they’re 100% guaranteed not to work if you DON’T send them! And most people are so scared to send them, or they write them so poorly, that you will stand out if you build your cold email muscle by sending them on a regular basis. 

Here’s how to write a great cold email: 

Write a short, 3-paragraph message, with no more than two sentences per paragraph. 

Paragraph 1: write something highly specific you admire about them or that you have in common. It must not be generic praise or flattery. That’s an immediate turn off for busy, successful people. 

Paragraph 2: write what you are doing and why you are inviting them. Make this highly personal—relate it to their mission or values. [Offer a little social proof—the job title from your previous career, the name of an organization you coach, the title of a book you’ve already published, the name of someone well-known you’ve already interviewed. Resist the urge to write more than a single sentence about yourself.]

Paragraph 3: give a simple, small call to action—that’s easy for them to say yes to. 

Here’s an example of a cold email I helped a coach send to one of the world’s leading research scientists in the field of AI:

Hi ____, 

While you studied at Cambridge, I was studying at Edinburgh. While you are originally from Egypt, I grew up in the Indian city of Mangalore, before I moved to the US.

I love your mission to create a tech culture where women are leading, shaping, and funding the future. I coach tech start-up founders on the Nasdaq Center’s flagship program, but more importantly I’m a dad who is raising a daughter to defy cultural and gender norms to become a leader in a male-dominated industry.  

I’ve written children’s books about emotional intelligence and I even had my own kids show at The Edinburgh Festival. I’m currently writing a book called Raising Capital, Raising Kids. It’s a book for leaders who are also parents—because too many succeed in the game of raising funds, only to fail in the game of raising children.  

I would love to interview you for this book. It would take no more than 20 minutes on a Zoom call. I know your time is precious. 

Let me know if this can work and we’ll schedule a time that works for you. And if you don’t have the time right now, thanks for inspiring me and my daughter.

Kind regards…… 

Think of someone successful, fascinating or famous you’d love to talk to. Reach out to them today—before your fear and doubt get in the way. You might just be surprised at what happens next.

Let me know. 

Love. Rich 


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