Week 16: Connecting with my childhood – Nicholas Sparks

My name is Davis. I am spending a year reaching out to my role models. Here’s why

Credit: http://speakerpedia.com/

Credit: http://speakerpedia.com/

My friends used to (and probably still) laugh when I mentioned how much I enjoy reading Nicholas Sparks novels. But I still remember those summer days in middle school reading The Choice or A Bend in the Road at my local library. Sparks’ beautiful language and attention to detail would keep me at the library from when it opened at 9 am until the security guard would ask me to leave at night.

Since my middle school days, Sparks has achieved mainstream popularity especially with the movie adaptations of many of his more famous books: A Walk to Remember, the Last Song, Dear John, and The Notebook. And I’ll admit I’ve coughed up $11.25 each time to see these movies, but none of them have been as good as what I remember reading in the novel all those years ago. From the moment I read my first Nicholas Sparks novel, I aspired to write as beautifully one day.

I’ve always wanted to meet the man who gave me so many hours of reading pleasure during my pre-teen and early teen years.

The Give

Mr. Sparks has a new movie (The Longest Ride) coming out next year. I’d like to give him a platform to speak on his personal journey and promote his movie if he wishes. The event would be in New Haven and open to anyone who wants to come.  I would figure out a way to raise money for transportation, lodging, and meal expenses for Mr. Sparks.

Connecting with Nicholas Sparks

Last year, I invited a role model of mine (Jenny Blake from Life After College) to speak in New Haven (the give was that Jenny was developing a talk for recent graduates and wanted an audience to practice on and I have plenty of college friends who wanted advice Jenny had to offer and willing to give her feedback). While Jenny has a large following , reaching out to her was easy Jenny sends her bi-weekly newsletters from her personal email. I just had to make sure my email packed enough value to warrant a response, but I knew at least  Jenny would get my email in her inbox.

I was not able to find a direct email for Mr. Sparks. Immediately after I started thinking about ways to get into direct contact with Nicholas Sparks, I ran into the same roadblock: given how busy he is, I understand why he would redirect inquiries to agents who handle them so he can have time to write and work on other projects.

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Given that I do not have a direct connection, I decided to use what I did have: a link to the various agencies that represent Mr. Sparks. I reached out to Mr. Sparks’ Speaker’s Bureau and found this list of contacts (this was on their main site from the link I followed on Nicholas Spark’s main page).

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This list is a diamond mine for me (or at least a potential one). With a list like this I can do what I do what I do best: try, fail, and maybe eventually succeed. I’ll reach out to each of the people listed by phone, explain my value proposition, and hope they will find enough value in my proposal that I will be redirected to the right person (or maybe Mr. Sparks himself).

When reaching out to someone for the first time, your most important tool is your value proposition/give. A poorly thought out will fail and having a great one you get you in the door.

Sometimes you just have to put on your salesmen hat and be prepared to get rejected multiple times before your value proposition is heard. I don’t like cold calling as much as anyone else, but what do I have to lose?

Current Progress

On Friday (12/12/14), I was contacted by a VP from the Greater Talent Network Speakers Bureau to discuss having Nicholas Sparks coming to New Haven. Nothing has been confirmed or committed, but getting on the first phone call later this week is a great first step. Still a long shot, but at least we made contact!

I will update as our talks develop (or end).

Next Tuesday

I will be home for Christmas break Friday and will reach out to my Congressman, David Scott (D-GA 13th District). Since my freshman year of college, I’ve kept a list of areas where I believe my home district (Georgia 13th) can improve.

The Congressman and I have never had a chance to talk (we came close one time at a luncheon, but I was unable to attend the event due to exams) so I’ve never been able to share my ideas. My ideas might prove to be silly or non-feasible but I want to make sure they are at least heard.

Week 15: The Power of Emailing People You Admire – Dr. Davis Nguyen

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My name is Davis. I am spending a year reaching out to my role models. Here’s why.  I’ll admit it. I like to google myself. But as uncommon as the name “Davis Nguyen” is, I am not the first, second or even third result that comes up. Those honors belong to Dr. Davis B. Nguyen of Beverly Hills, California. Last […]

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Week 14: How to make your mail standout – John Cena

Credit to DouglasShillPhoto

My name is Davis. I am spending a year reaching out to my role models. Here’s why.  As a kid, I was constantly bullied. I was smaller than the other students; I was one of few people who wasn’t African American; I wore second-hand clothes because that was what my family could afford; and I chose to read during recess instead […]

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Week 13: How to connect on interests – Ryan Holiday

Credit: DMXDublin

I lost my aunt a year ago. Since my whole family is small (there are only 14 of us) we saw each other weekly and had dinner together often. My aunt was a second mom. In the months following, I distracted myself at school with classes and extracurriculars so I didn’t have to think about her death. But […]

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Week 12: How to Personalize an Email – Michael Ellsberg

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My name is Davis. In September 2014, I decided to spend a year reaching out to role models I’ve never met. Here’s why.  This week, I reached out to author Michael Ellsberg. Who is Michael Ellsberg I came across Michael’s work a year ago at Barnes and Nobles. Michael’s book wasn’t strategically placed, but the title caught my […]

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Week 11: The Keynote Speaker – Andrew Klaber


My name is Davis. I am spending a year reaching out to my role models. Here’s why.  “I’ve had more than 10 times as many failures in my life as I have had successes. The good news is that no one talks about my failures.” – Andrew Klaber. Who is Andrew Klaber Last weekend, I was invited to […]

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Week 10: Connecting with a past coworker – Mike Erwin

Credit Jeffrey Smith | AnnArbor.com

My name is Davis. I am spending a year reaching out to my role models. Here’s why.  Why I chose Mike Erwin this week Mike Erwin is the coworker I wish I could have connected with when I interned at Quiet Revolution this summer. One thing that made working at Quiet unique was that most of our team worked remotely. We […]

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Week 9: An odd request – Scott Berkun

Book from Mark Earls

My name is Davis. I am spending a year reaching out to my role models. Here’s why.  Update From Previous Weeks: Last month, I reached out to Mark Earls and asked if he would sign a copy of his book. After a month of getting mail through customs, guess what came in the mail today? I was pretty […]

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Week 8: Asking Advice from a Role Model – Jesse Bonanno

LinkedIn JB

My name is Davis. I am spending a year reaching out to my role models. Here’s why.  I love listening to Pandora. I get to hear my favorite songs and every now and then, Pandora will play a song it thinks I will like based on my past preferences. A month ago, Pandora introduce me to this song: I fell in […]

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Week 7: Finding a difficult email – Brené Brown

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My name is Davis. I am spending a year reaching out to my role models. Here’s why.  This week was quite challenging. My goal was to reach out to Brené Brown, best known for her work with vulnerability and shame. She delivered this TED talk on embracing the power of vulnerability that I listened to for the first time […]

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