February 05, 2007

Three People I Admire Who I'd Like to Meet

While in Chico this last weekend, my friends and I somehow stumbled into one of those mundane rounds of "Truth or Dare", which ends up being 100% truths, since nobody will accept a dare. Most of these end up being hour-long confessionals of past trysts and unlikely conquests, but one question was asked that stuck with me.

If I could meet any three people in the world who I admire, who would they be?

While I could try to put myself on a lofty, intellectual pedestal, and mention religious leaders, that's not where my mind led. Instead, I came up with three solid names: Stephen King, Steve Jobs and Bill Clinton. Each of these three has defined a legacy, and carved out a place for themselves in history. Each of them, I admire, and for vastly different reasons. Each of them probably has amazing stories to tell, ones I would love to listen to.

Stephen King

I often say that Stephen King is like a modern-day Picasso, but for novels. He has absolutely no peers when it comes to the frequency of books he publishes, their quality, and success. He has redefined the horror genre, to be sure, and while some find his books dark or chilling, he is a fantastic writer who loves his craft. His book "On Writing", which taught the process of novel creation, should be a must-read for any aspiring writer. And those of us who have littered our bookshelves with his stories, from Carrie and Christine to It, The Dark Half, The Stand, Insomnia, and countless others, know that he has a tremendous sense of humor. He is very funny, and has a dry, cutting wit. That he is now on the downside of his career, and that we as a people nearly lost him when he was struck by a car a few years ago, is in itself a horror. I wish we could see him continue to churn out new novels year after year after year. When he finally puts away his pen, I'll truly be at a loss.

Steve Jobs

I actually have met Steve Jobs, if only for a brief moment, in a Palo Alto Apple Store. I've even paid good money to see him speak at MacWorld San Francisco. But with that said, I still find him incredibly intriguing. Though he's not the engineer behind the code that makes the Mac or the iPod unique, he puts his own personal touch on everything Apple. He redefines real marketing, and gives a clinic on how to deliver successful presentations. I literally watch the way he uses slides and keeps an audience's attention to learn tips during my own time in public speaking. Steve Jobs, despite having the spotlight on him for the better part of two decades, somehow manages to not just move technology forward one evolution at a time, but he tries to change the world. He comes across not just as an aggressive, rich, business man, but one who wants to accomplish something notable, and help us do the same.

Bill Clinton

This one might be a tad more controversial, but as time goes by, and we see the stark contrast between his presidency and that following it, what he was able to both accomplish and prevent is remarkable. Bill Clinton, like Steve Jobs, knows how to command attention from an audience, and has the highest level of speaking skills. When he speaks on an issue, he knows it inside and out, and would debate it with a fierce passion. While his personal foibles have been well-documented, much of that comes from a burning intensity to be liked and to be friendly with others. I am sure that if I were to meet Bill Clinton, that he would be able to convince me just why I needed to support one cause over another, on just why his plan for an issue is the best one available, and he could give me example after example on why the other side was wrong and mis-informed. Clinton looks like a guy who would be happy talking shop, playing Hearts, or throwing a Frisbee. He looks a lot like a regular guy who just happened to be ambitious enough to be president. Now, his wife just may have that chance to make history as well. Watching him stay to the side of the spotlight will be very interesting.

I'm sure if I wrote this up in a few weeks' time, other names would rise to the top. Conan O'Brien would be fun to meet. Billy Beane, I've met, but briefly. Bill Gates (out of curiousity). If you had to pick three people, who would they be, and why?

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