I recently had the pleasure of meeting Melissa Lombard at Gary Hoover's open house for the iSchool (U.T. Austin's Information School, a top-ranked program for it's kind in the nation). Gary is one of my favorite people in Austin, and he is generously serving as Entrepreneur-in-Residence for the iSchool after doing so a few years ago for McCombs (U.T. Austin's Business School). He invited "friends of Gary" to attend and Melissa was there with her husband. Melissa told me about her 5-year project to have coffee with 260 strangers and live this mantra:
"You will be the same person in five years as you are today, except for the books you read and the people you meet." Charlie "Tremendous" Jones said that and I took it to heart.
I thought this was really cool as I'm a lifelong student of leadership and entrepreneurship. I always think I have more to learn (and everyone does) and I constantly seek out great mentors and books myself. I've written about this in my Lucky7 posts on the 7 lessons learned on the journey from founder to CEO and how to leverage advisors and investors as your extended team. So, in many ways, Melissa and I are kindred spirits. She told me I was on her wish list of interviewees/mentors and that she would like to interview me for her special #52 edition - the final interview of her first year of "Coffee with a Stranger". I immediately agreed to do so, and then I learned that good friends like Clint Greenleaf (interview), who is in YPO with me, and recently Kevin Koym (interview), founder of Tech Ranch Austin, have done so.
The result is this interview. We met at Lola Savannah, of course, which I wrote about in this Lucky7 post. I applaud Melissa for this project, and I really enjoyed doing this. She is a great interviewer, and we discussed things that I've never talked about in interviews, such as a very formative class on individual and group psychology that I took at the University of Pennsylvania. What makes her great at it, in my opinion, is the same driving force that made her embark on this five-year project in the first place. Don't forget that even Steve Jobs asked for help when he was 12-years old (read this Lucky7 post on Steve Jobs, 1776, and Israel) - we all need mentors. If you think you know it all or have it all figured out, I suggest you read the book Egonomicsand take it to heart. Or give it to a friend that needs this medicine.
Next up on my to-do list? To connect Melissa with four great people (two of her wish-list strangers as well as two more strangers that I think she should interview) for the start of year two of her five-year project.