What To Do When You Meet Your Hero (Plus: My Encounter With Chris Guillebeau!)

Ten feet away from Chris Guillebeau! Somebody pinch me. (Or at least wipe up the puddle I just made on the floor.)

I fully advocate stalking your personal hero.

But not in a creepy way. And definitely not in a ransom-note-written-with-cut-out-letters-from-newspapers kind of way.

What I mean is you should make it a priority to make contact with your hero, no matter how famous or inaccessible they seem to be. It’s important.

I say this from personal experience. Some of the most exciting and unforgettable experiences in my life involve meeting heroes who have inspired my work, passions, ideas, creativity, and spiritual life. And each time I’ve met one of my heroes, I’ve walked away with an unforgettable story…usually one that involves embarrassing myself, but still.

(Speaking of embarrassing stories: Visit ABL’s Facebook page to read what happened when I met President Bill Clinton.)

This week I met an A-list celebrity of the blogosphere: Chris Guillebeau, the genius behind  The Art of Non-Conformity, and creator of great books and products for entrepreneurs, creatives, and world travelers alike.

For the past few hours I’ve been trying to think of a concise way to describe his appeal, but I can’t. So I’ll just say that if there’s anything about my website that you like (content, style, perspective, branding, etc.), it’s all thanks to inspiration from Chris. And if there’s anything you don’t like about A Brave Life, it’s because I haven’t yet learned how to do certain things as well as Chris can.

So when I had a chance to meet him during the New York City leg of his book tour, I knew I wanted to maximize the awesomeness of the experience by entering with a good plan.

My strategy? Turn the experience into a story worth telling your grandchildren — a tale that’s messy, funny, beautiful and inspiring. And then document it.

Here’s how you can do the same when you meet your hero:

1. Be a photojournalist.

Take lots of candid photos. Tell a story with them. Capture emotion, not just posed smiles. Include shots of the venue to set the tone of your story. The little details matter. By doing this, you’ll be able to look back at your photos and relive the experience.


2. Stop taking photos.

Don’t forget why you’re there. Put the camera down, breathe deeply, and let your gratitude fill you up. Look around at everyone else and know that you are sharing a special moment together. Be present.

3. Support your hero’s special projects.

If your hero is really a hero, what will make him happiest is knowing that his contributions to the world have made a positive impact on others.

So when I arrived at the event I purchased Chris’ new book The $100 Startup. I was ready to receive what he is so passionate about sharing. And it felt great to know that my small action was supporting the life and work of a person who has inspired my own life and work.

Bonus: Autographed books are so much nicer than autographed napkins!

4. Let yourself get so excited that you make a fool of yourself.  It usually makes for a great story (or in my case, a dorky photo).

(Yes, I am pointing at the reason for my excitement. You know, just in case I look at this photo in the future and can’t remember.)

5. If you speak with your hero, do one or more of the following: express gratitude, ask a good question, say something funny, or share a short but awesome story about how your hero changed your life.


Here’s what happened as Chris signed my book:

Me: My husband was a little worried about me coming here today because he thinks I have a crush on you. But I reassured him that it’s more like my blog has a crush on your blog, and he felt better about it.

Chris: [Laughs] That’s really funny! Well, tell him everything’s cool, no need to worry!

…And then I merrily skipped home knowing that I made Chris Guillebeau smile.

Mission accomplished.

Your Turn: Tell us the story of when you met your hero! Or: Who are you dying to meet?



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12 Responses to What To Do When You Meet Your Hero (Plus: My Encounter With Chris Guillebeau!)

  1. Sam says:

    SO. My hero is this local musician here in Provo, UT. He’s just an indie-music GOD and I practically live off of his music. It’s all really inspirational and I just relate REALLY well to all of it. I’ve met him once before, just at this show that I went to spontaneously (SO COOL), but I was kind of all, as I saw it, drooling and smiling and telling him how awesome he is.
    HOWEVER. I email him back and forth every once in a while and he’s really nice–but that’s not the cool part–I’m helping him shoot a music video this weekend! So, I’m going to be around him all day. PLEASE HELP ME.
    I don’t want to be a drooling-fanboy-derp the whole time…

    • Kimberly says:

      Sam, I am SO excited for you and I don’t even know who this Provo, UT dude is! (Is his music online? I’d love to check him out.)

      As for your question, I’m really the wrong person to ask if you don’t want to be a drooling, goofy fool. Mostly because that’s me in a nutshell and I embrace it. But! There are certain things you can do to ensure you get the most out of this opportunity. And by that I mean there are ways to fully and deeply experience your time with him. (Because trust me, like any exciting event with a lot of build up, it will fly by in the blink of an eye.) And honestly, having a meaningful experience is more important than the goal of not looking like a fool.

      So…the only way to savor a moment is to not tie any strict expectations or agendas to it, and also to connect with him (and anyone else there) in a meaningful way by being supportive, positive, and authentic. One thing I wish I had asked my hero from this blog post is: So how did you think today went? It was a major stop at his book signing, and he’s an introvert who had to do some public speaking and mingling, so I’m sure there was stuff he would have liked to express with anyone who would take the time to listen. That’s how you make a connection with someone– ask how they’re feeling, and be fully present when they answer. Let it flow from there.

      Be yourself and you’ll do great! Please report back to tell me how it goes!!!

      • Sam says:

        Hey Kimberly!
        So I ended up spending a whole Sunday afternoon with him (his name is Drew Danburry, by the way! He has a blog and such . . . go check out drewdanburry.com) shooting a music video! He actually answered the door to his house and said, “Oh hey Sam!” (dressed in a ridiculous costume) and invited me in and introduced me to his wife and baby, then we went to talk about the plan for the music video and met the other handful of people that were there to help. It went really quite well from there! we set up the camera in various places and he sang his song to the track and the four or five of the others and I dressed up in silly clothes and danced! It was WAY fun, ’cause we’re all super lame like that. In the middle we went to Taco Bell and discussed the hilarious choice of music being played on the radio and some TED talks that we’d all seen over some cheap tacos. When we finished shooting and coming up with more ideas for the video, we pretty much asked eachother how we think it went and thanked eachother haha and went home! It was way cool and fun, and I’m pretty sure I’ll go see more of his shows (if he plays more–he’s “retired” from touring a bit) and I hope hang out with him more and hopefully get to talk more and I REALLY hope I can record some music with him!
        So, thank you for the tips–I managed not to be a drooling fool 89% of the time haha!


        • Kimberly says:

          That is so awesome, Sam! Glad it was everything you hoped it would be, with minimal drooling. Plus, you really can’t go wrong with Taco Bell and TED Talks. :)

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  5. Rex says:

    Not really a hero but somebody whose talent I admire. I met Jennifer Hudson after a concert performance of “Hair” in NYC. Most of the crowd had gone, and she was talking to some folks in the theater aisle after the show was done. I mustered the courage to walk up to her with a poster photo of hers in hand that I purchased several years before. I introduced myself and told her how much I admire her. She was so kind and sweet to us. We didn’t chat for too long as she had to be whisked away to someone who her agent said “she had to meet”. She did say, “I’ll be right back”. Lo and behold, 2 minutes later, she went back to where I was standing to finish our conversation, adding that “I’d rather talk to you guys!”. My heart melted :-) We talked about music and her experience on the Broadway stage for the first time (this was several years before her role in Dreamgirls). After a little while she autographed the photo of hers that I brought and gave us hugs. We wished her luck and success. I was just so grateful to have had that experience. What made it even more meaningful, was that she was actually SO SWEET and down to earth, and everything I hoped she would be. I was beaming for days :-)

    • Kimberly Eclipse says:

      Great story! I’m so glad to hear that you actually had a bit of quality time with her and that she was everything you hoped she would be. When I met Chris Guillebeau, he seemed more excited to see me than I was to see him, which was just so sweet. With all of the madness (good and bad) that is happening in the lives of these celebrities/ heroes, it says a lot when they are mindful of how they make their fans feel.

      By the way, have you seen this video? I was alone in my bedroom when I watched it, and by the end I was up on my feet cheering and saluting an invisible American flag, haha. Absolutely INCREDIBLE. What a gift she has.

  6. KMD says:

    Well I met the local weatherman when I was eight…at that time he was my hero. You could say I was star-struck :p

    I would definitely like to meet Temple Grandin. She’s near the top of my list. :)

    • Kimberly Eclipse says:

      Lol! I love that a weatherman was your hero. As for meeting Temple Grandin, I’ve seen her Ted talk and I can understand why she’s at the top of your list. Great lady. Hope you get to meet her one day!

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