It’s happened to me. In the last several years, as I’ve blogged and written two books, I’ve had dreamlike experiences. I’ve interviewed well-known people in their fields. With nothing to lose, I’ve pitched stuff and asked for things. Surprising results often followed. I didn’t see any of it coming.
I’ve learned at least one thing: You never know what can happen unless you try. Usually, it’s only necessary to take one small step, or one small risk, at a time.
Which brings me to another Neil.
Neil Barsky hatched a journalism project called The Marshall Project and decided to approach Bill Keller, the former executive editor of The New York Times. As reported in a Newsweek Q&A, here’s what happened:
“What made you think of Bill of all people you could have hired?
“NEIL BARSKY: I literally, randomly emailed him. I said, ‘You don’t know me.’ I said, ‘My name’s Neil Barsky, I’m doing this project, this is a long shot, would you be interested in considering working together?’ Not only have I been reading The New York Times my whole life, certainly when he’s been running it, but I have tons of friends at the Times, who are reporters, who uniformly speak highly of him on the record and off the record.
“So he replied to your email?
“NEIL BARSKY: He replied to the email, we had breakfast, then we kept talking. It took about a month to finalize our arrangement, but it’s pretty thrilling.”
How about that? And it started “randomly” with an email.
Is there someone you’re itching to contact? Is the person famous? Do you consider him/her out of your league in some respect? Take a shot anyway.