A chance encounter with a literary giant

gladwell_malcolm_fIn the work I do I regularly quote some of the best business literature on the bookshelves. I run discussion groups where we discuss the work of Seth Godin, Tom Peters, Ken Blanchard and Malcolm Gladwell – and of course how to apply these ideas and insights in our everyday lives. I was sat in Starbucks (Manchester Piccadilly) yesterday with Dr Pete Hawkins, a world expert on career and life management, and a visiting lecturer at Harvard University. Pete took an interest in the book I recently published and I was fascinated to hear of his work on the Windmills project, a highly innovative approach to work and life planning. (I love their strap line ‘When the wind blows some people build walls…others build windmills’). Pete is no slouch himself on the authorship front, having published several works, but we were talking about some of the giants of the business world and how their writings had influenced us. Only that morning we’d been talking in a training session about Gladwell’s bestseller The Tipping Point. A New Yorker with a mixed Jewish/Jamaican background, Gladwell is the JK Rowling of published ‘thought-leaders’, having made a fortune from speaking and writing.

Sat with Pete, I was halfway through my decaf latte when BLOW ME DOWN if Malcolm Gladwell didn’t walk right past me to the Starbucks counter! Being a fan of his work, I walked over, said ‘Hi’ and explained that I’d been talking about The Tipping Point and other books to my clients that morning. It was a brief conversation but he was very polite and charming and of course I was thrilled to meet him.

I’m treating this as a sign. I guess he was on a speaking tour of the UK, but what were the chances of him walking by at that very minute (in all the Starbucks in all the world…?).

I read once that we get more of what we focus on, and it’s absolutely true. Ever since I realised what I wanted in life, some extraordinary things have happened, things which are moving me towards where I want to be. I’ve met Jack Nicklaus and Malcolm Gladwell in the space of a week and a host of new collaborations (eg with Waterstone’s) are starting to bear fruit.

I think it’s also linked to an attitude of reaching out, recognising opportunities that I’d have missed before and, as Zig Ziglar would have us do, helping others get what they’re looking for – then the things you want in life come your way too.

Now before I get too philosophical and start hugging trees, I’m off to prepare for Book Launch Night in Manchester – very excited!

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