Meeting heroes : the power of networks

Two heroes in 1 week. Best score ever!

I met two of my heroes in the same week.

Meeting heroes is not the same as meeting rock stars. Similar but more humbling.

I am an overt groupie! I love to get autographs at concerts. I will buy a special edition of my favorite records… oops… yep… Records! I recently purchased (after a long 20 seconds reflection) two historic heavy metal albums that were given the special treatment by the band.  Price is not even a topic to be discussed. After all, owning (I know, I know, “access” vs “possess” is all the rage in the 21st century but hey… being over 50 has its advantages!) these special historic albums means soooooooo much.


I am a groupie.





I also love writing to my favorite musicians and buying their record or CD collection directly from their web site. Not only it this better for their finances (no intermediate), not only do I usually get a bundle price, not only do I get free CDs, not only do I get special editions but, most importantly, I can connect directly with them. We write back and forth for a while and stay connected after the purchase.

This is real.


But meeting heroes…. Ah, this is a different ball game.

Heroes inspire us. Elevate us to a different thought level. They allow us to see what was not possible before meeting them.

Oh, before anyone gets suspicious, these heroes of mine are not modern gladiators (football, hockey or whatever sport) or dogmatic preachers (religious or not).


They are thinkers.

And they are writers.

I usually start the relation by reading a book of theirs. Or I try to shake their hands after a conference.

Then I write a short email, connect via social networks, subscribe to their blog, leave comments on some blog posts and interact in some way with them.

And in some very special cases, I get to meet them.

I am a lucky guy.

It happened repeatedly in 2014 and 2015.

Meeting Jon Husband and Nigel Paine after his conference at the 2014 Training Bootcamp in Montreal was such a treat!

So different than my meeting (pfff… not a meeting but rather a very fast hand shaking) with Brendon Burchard in 2013. THIS guy appeared like such a nice guy on stage and was such a cold and calculated person, it left me with cold feet for this relationship. Never again.

But Jon was generous.

Nigel was generous and funny!

Both introduced me to some of their friends…. And I started reading THEIR books, writing to them and… meeting them too!


PUniels pfleaging and Francois Lavallee RE MAGIC!

One of them who literally blew my mind was Niels Pfleaging. His book “Organize for complexity” was quite an eye opener. So many concepts in such a small book. I read it thrice! (I know! this is a dated word but I just love the sound of it…!). So I wrote to Niels to thank him. And I purchased many books to make them available during my events on the Intelligent Organization. I purchased some more to give away. And we corresponded for over a year.

And we met in June 2016.

My goal was simply to meet and chat. Discuss and share insights. And connect.

Mostly to connect.

It worked. Awesome!



A few days prior to this meeting, another hero of mine accepted to come back to yet another one of my meetings on The Intelligent Organization. Both being speakers at the 2016 edition of the Montreal Training Bootcamp provided a unique opportunity to spend 3 days together discussing our experience, experience local restaurants and basically connect, once again.

Harold Jarche is one of my heroes. Oh, he might say he is not a hero…

HArold Jarche Collectif de Réflexion sur l'Organisation Intelligente

But what do you call someone whose first language is English and speak French better than most people in Quebec, someone who has been writing a blog for more than 12 years diligently and made available for free more than 3500 blog posts containing a wealth of knowledge I have rarely seen elsewhere and is more than willing to let you use it to promote knowledge mastery, over and over again?

A hero.

End of discussion.

Again, the same pattern evolved over the course of several months. Reading Harold’s posts and ebook, commenting, attending his excellent PKM workshop and writing back and forth.

AND… Having the immense privilege to meet him. TWICE in a year!

And connecting. Slowly and truly.

As human beings.

Meeting heroes : the power of networks

Social networks are often blamed for the weak connections they induce between people. Well, as the saying goes, if you want to hold 100 000 kg of water in the air, build a cloud. Talk about weak links!

Weak links do not equal weakness.

Initiating a relationship slowly by writing, communicating, sharing ideas, talking over Skype and ultimately meeting eye-to-eye… All this is the basis of all human needs. To connect. To belong. To share and to know that someone is there for us.

Bill Jensen (yep, another hero of mine… Read his book, wrote to him, purchased multiple copies of his books, Skype repeatedly… Not met him. Yet… But I feel it will happen soon!) wrote in his latest book “Future Strong” that one of the 5 characteristics of people who are ready for the future is to have a network of people who will “have your back”.

Harold mentions the “knowledge network”…

Niels has the “peach” organization…

Frederick Laloux and his “teal” organization is yet another version of these very important connections that hold people together.

“There is nothing new under the sun” as an old and revered book contains.

Social networks do not change the basic assumption.

Humans love to connect.

Wonderful things happen when we connect.

Especially with heroes!

Oh boy… I am such a groupie!


But then… thinking back on my “strategy” and reflecting on a superb exercise that my hero Harold proposes in his PKM workshop, connecting with people from my knowledge network always falls down to a few simple things :

Are they credible?

Are they your friend?

And if so, do you connect frequently enough for them to feel the connection is real?


Credibility and trust are both fuzzy concepts but after a while you develop an intuition… especially if the rest of your network keeps referring to these individuals!



Oh yes… not at first, of course. But if that very credible and famous person you are trying to connect with does not have some affinity with you, sooner or later (or most probably sooner) you will stop connecting.

Are all my heroes, my friends? No. But those I connect with on a regular basis are becoming friends. At least from my side. I can rely on them when I need to pick their brains or share an insight.


But the secret, the one thing you can control is frequency.

Nobody can control credibility of his or her contacts on social networks. Ah, no. You can control who is part of your network.  So, you CAN control the overall credibility of your network but not of individuals in your network.

By the same token, you cannot force someone to become your friend.

BUT you CAN control the number of interactions between you and your network. Blogging, adding comments, writing directly, sending suggestions or even books to some colleagues… It goes much farther than simply sending a virtual Birthday card once a year.


Credibility, friendship, frequency… not rocket science.

Discipline, willingness to connect and a little time.


Steven Johnson said that chance favors the connected mind.

I must be lucky then.

About meeting heroes : the power of networks at work !

But boy,  I am such a groupie!!!


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