Real visionaries are a rare breed. We use labels like ‘heroes’ and ‘thought leaders’ somewhat easily, but are the people we put on a pedestal really worth these qualifications? That question occurred to me when I stumbled into a video where Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg explain how they managed to get Steve Jobs to be interviewed at their All Things Digital conferences. Not once, but several times. And on one occasion even together with Bill Gates.
These are old school legends of the computer age. Jobs and Gates were empire builders, but at the time of these interviews they were also still geeks with grand views. Who would compare in 2020? Which leader is a real visionary in your industry? Who would you want to appear in your stage-show, and look back on with pride over ten years? What would it take to make them join your event? How do you find the visionaries of the future?
I guess it all revolves around networking. Keep an open eye for talent, for extraordinary people, for start-ups that make a difference. Ask questions, make suggestions, involve your favourites in industry activities, go for a drink at a trade show, be supportive. Of course you can book any speaker at an agency, but building your own back-up should be an alternative.
For your inspiration, we have included the interview with the two organizers of All Things Digital, a recording of the Jobs & Gates meeting on stage and a video of the commencement address Jobs delivered at the Stanford University. As a reminder: both companies that Jobs (Apple – 1976) and Gates (Microsoft -1975) founded have reached a value above 1 trillion dollar.