A friend of mine recently met her icon. An experience she described as life transforming. One week on, she is still invigorated and has not stopped ranting about it (I don’t blame her, I am still bragging about my Bill Clinton moment ten years on. That eye from the far right of the photo is me, I swear!). So impressed, my friend stole the Star’s toothbrush, three strain of hairs and a used tissue paper and framed them up on her wall. Ridiculous!
My friend’s enthusiasm was so contagious that it brings back memories of the famous heroes I came across. I saw The Venerable Dog Whisperer, Cesar Milan last year, but because I was too busy I never got to talk to him (ok, it was the other way round, actually). In the spirit of name-dropping, I also witnessed the thumbsize live images of Leslie Cheung, Michael Jackson (twice, I might add) and Robbie William in their concerts. However, I never had a private 3 hours of intense exchange with any of my idols, unlike this friend’s encounter with possibly one of the biggest star on the planet right now.
I couldn’t be happier for my friend, and it further reaffirms that there is a God, who knows that she has had a rough patch recently, hence organized for this audacious surprise.
I know what it feels like to meet one’s biggest idol, because I have flirted with the idea of meeting some people whom I deemed unimaginable, while reading their books or watching them on TV. Well, sort of. I met my idol, Guy Kawasaki, (the man in blue in the picture; and the man in black was me – I was young once) the Michael Jordan of Marketing, but I was too star struck to have any meaningful conversation with him. That said, months later he was featured on the front cover of Asia Inc magazine, being interviewed by yours truly(very few people knew that it was only an email interview until now). It was and still is the highlight of my humble career.
Needless to say, it has been a while since I met anyone I truly admire. Celebrity commands a presence unlike ordinary people. Which is why they are paid big bucks to do the things they do.
The conversation with this friend inspires me to dream about which great person I would like to sit down with for three hours, and think about the kind of questions I would ask he or she?
There are so many of them; there is a list which would be cool to brag with your friends about, and there’s a list that would really satisfy your soul. It is important not to confuse the two.
I have indulged in the former list in this entire essay, here is my list for the latter:
- Super Star: The Rock
- Celebrity Chef: Jamie Oliver
- Great People: Tony Campolo
- Sport Star: Kobe Bryant
- Business person: Tony Hsieh (It changes too often)
However, if I really really have to narrow down to only one person, it would have to be Tony Campolo. He is old, bald and the kind of grand father figure whom you would pass straight by on the street. Most of you would probably have no idea who he is. Neither did I, until 10 years ago, when I attended a talk by Tony that changed my life forever.
I describe him as the greatest communicator I have ever come across. One who challenges your moral value, whose stories have the propensity to shape a your character and the person who redefines the Christian Faith to me in the most tangible sense. Not only that, he is also a man who walks the talk; Tony raises on average $10M a year for charity and kept next to nothing for himself.
The last time I saw Tony was 5 years ago, when he did a charity talk in Perth. We had a brief conversation, when I caught him returning from the toilet. I told him how his messages made a blueprint in my life, and gave him a bear hug. What I should also have done (and have regretted until today) was to have taken a photo with him and had him to autograph my book. I was too chicken!
I do not know if I would stutter if I was ever given a 3 hours session with him. I don’t even know what I’m gonna ask, I would have been too in awe of Tony that I would have missed a photo op with him again. However, this is what I will probably do; I will gather everyone I know, my family, my best friends, and even my enemies alike and have him to repeat his story of the Birthday Party he arranged for Agnes.
Unlike the other four idols that may or may not disappoint, I know deep down inside, I would walk away challenged and enriched to become a better person. This, I believe is the ultimate responsibility of a great person, a celebrity or whatever label you bestow on these special breed of people in the planet.