I am like most of you. I have attended networking functions, book signings, conferences, etc., where I got a chance to meet some famous people who some might call movers and shakers. I have stood in line waiting to shake their hand and sometimes pose for a photo. You have little time to say much of anything except smile, shake hands, say hello or nice to meet you, I am a big fan, I enjoyed your book or movie, and then you move on.
These encounters are not designed to engage in a meaningful discussion. However, sometimes you find yourself in the right place at the right time with the right person. When that happens are you prepared with more than a firm handshake, a smile and a hello?
I just finished reading Frances Hesselbein’s book entitled My Life in Leadership. Prior to finding this book on the bookshelf in my local library, I never heard of Frances Hesselbein. Frances was the former CEO of the Girls Scouts of America. She was the first CEO to come from the rank and file. She also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded to her by President Clinton. So, despite my limited knowledge, Frances has done quite well without me. She is currently the President and CEO of the Leader to Leader Institute formerly the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management. I was curious to learn how Frances got involved with Peter Drucker.
Frances writes about when she first became the executive director of the Talus Rock Girl Scout council. “The first day I walked into the office, under my arm were six copies of Peter Drucker’s The Effective Executive, one for each staff member. I did not know Peter Drucker…” Frances became a big fan of Peter’s work and incorporated many of his ideas. Fast forward eleven years and Frances is invited to an event where Peter Drucker was the featured speaker. The dinner included a 5:30 pm reception.
Frances arrived right at 5:30 pm and the only people there were two bartenders. However, that changed seconds later when a man walked in. Can you guess who it was?
Good guess, that’s right, Peter Drucker and he said to Frances, I am Peter Drucker. Frances was stunned and instead of saying, how do you do, she blurted out, do you know how important you are to the Girl Scouts? Peter said, no tell me, and Frances proceeded to tell him. That chance encounter resulted in a lasting friendship and professional relationship.
I know some of you think this could or would never happen to you. I believe this happens quite often. However, before you dismiss it as an unlikely possibility answer the following.
Was Frances prepared for a chance encounter? Are you?