Gregor Cuzak

on marketing, business and philosophy

How to talk to a guy like Richard Branson?

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How far are you from anyone in the world? Some say it’s about six handshakes, and probably it is becoming closer, especially through the new tools of communication that we have on our hands.

I think Jure Leskovec, our Slovenian young data mining prodigy even showed that the separation between people on the net today is around four. Actually, as you will see in the post below, all my cases are four or less.

Now let us bring this down to practical examples. Let’s choose a few of known people from Slovenia and from around the globe and let me show how far I think I am from them?

#1 Danica Purg, head of IEDC Bled School of Business

The link here is direct. I can talk to Mrs. Purg firstly becuase I am an alumnus of MBA from her school. Secondly I attend activities organized by the school and I generally like what the schools does. Mrs. Purg is an amazing person, yet she may be too forceful to some. It is known that you can’t say no to Danica, as expressed by many who have met her, including most of the professors.

Actually in Slovenia almost anyone is at most two handshakes away. All you need to have is good relations with a few human-hubs, the people who know really a lot of other people. I am lucky to know such types of people and am more and more becoming a human-hub myself.

#2 Michael Schumacher, the record breaking Formula 1 driver

The link here is three levels deep. All of Slovenians know Miran Ališič, the F1 reporter. He is one handshake away from Mr. Schumacher. I don’t know Mr. Ališič personally, but again, there are so many obvious candidates who could know him that I know too. They are either people in Adria Media, where Mr. Ališič was a journalist and even an editor of Playboy. Secondly I could ask my colleagues at Pop TV, the broadcaster of F1.

There is also another link to Mr. Schumacher through a well known Slovenian businessman, Mr. Tomaž Lovše. I know he has links to F1. It is relatively easy to come to Mr. Lovše through Diners Club Slovenia, or the Skiing Federation of Slovenia, or even through Mr. Križanič, the minister of finance in Slovenia (the latter is a freshly baked political joke 😉

And a little anecdote to put the cherry on the cake of this case is an event that happened in Madonna di Campiglio. My family was skiing there several years ago. Ferrari also had their winter week meeting there. So there we were together with Mr. Schumacher himself. And he didn’t hide out in some separate areas but went to ski. And we actually met him and almost shook hands when mounting a ski lift.

#3 Sir Richard Branson, Mr. Virgin himself

Sir Richard Branson is probably the best known business person in the UK. We had the idea to contact him in June last year. The reason was the crazy project that I have already written about some months ago. A friend of mine told me a year or so ago that she was in touch with Mr. Branson, so I asked here to help me out. She did, and he helped. We are now trying to convince my friend to bring Mr. Branson to meet us in Slovenia.

So, Mr. Branson is two handshakes away from me.

#4 Bill Clinton, former president of USA

Through Mr. Lovše he would be three handshakes away, however in my case I am two handshakes away from Mr. Clinton. The link is Mr. Kevin Allen who used to work as the New Business director in McCann Worldwide. I met Mr. Allen at McCann’s i:m-e conference in Berlin in 2000 and we’ve been on a friendly basis since.

#5 Oprah Winfrey, TV host

Here I don’t have a clue, honestly. But I would guess that this could not be more than four handshakes. But as said, I am not going to elaborate on this one.

#6 Nelson Mandela, legendary political leader

I have just found out that our general manager in Nil South Africa has access to him. And I have access to our general manager. So, it’s two handshakes.

#7 Ricardo Semler, author of The Maverick, Businessman of the year in Brazil

I have written about Mr. Semler already, and he really does operate an incredible type of open company culture at his company, Semco.

Mr. Semler is in Brazil, so my link to him could be through some Slovenians who do business in Brazil. Since I don’t do business there I don’t really know how far it is for my colleagues to reach Mr. Semler, but I would assume that it can’t be more than three, rather two. Mr. Semler is a celebrity in Brazil, so any recognized businessman should be able to contact him directly.

I have two people for whom I know directly that they do operate in Brazil. One is Mr. Tuš and the other is Mr. Žejn. I do hope we will get to meet Mr. Semler through them sooner or later.

So, these were a few cases. I am not saying that each one of us has the same kind of access. I am also not claiming that it is always easy to move along these handhakes because the more handshakes there are, the more interests you have to cover. But I am definitely saying is that one can reach almost anyone in the world really fast. So here you go, choose your contacts globally and start talking to them. There are almost no excuses left for you not doing it.

One Comment

  1. Hi there! I hope you will get this post, i have a very particular question to ask you, but i would like to have this conversation a bit more private over email, i need your advice on a project i am doing. Please contact me on my email,

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