Meeting Heroes

I was thinking about people’s heroes and noteworthy names that my friends and family follow with interest and would love to meet if they could.

For my dad he is really into the life and skills of Bruce Lee, his films and history, its obviously a difficult one to tee up a meeting with since Bruce Lee died decades ago, but he has a very cool style and philosophy that make him a worthy hero.

One of my friends is such a fan of A Song of Ice and Fire that I want to see what happens if he ever got to meet George RR Martin in the flesh, I think it’d be awesome.

A long time back on Mature Gamer, when Bouncy was one of the main hosts, I decided to try and get Peter Molyneux to guest on the show.

I made contact with about 4-5 different places before finally reaching his PA who was happy to book him in when I asked them to consider it a ‘Christmas Present’ to a friend.

He came on the show and we spoke with him for about an hour and a half on a shaky Skype feed in Kev’s kitchen, huddled around a laptop in the dark (mainly because Kev has a nasty habit of smashing his lightbulbs when he moves furniture about).

Bouncy loved it, he even got an invite down to visit 22Cans which I’m not sure he actually took them up on, but I hope he did. I got to tell him about the time I was sat next to him stealing the coffees in the guest room at EGX, not realising it wasn’t the press room. (Get some security EGX!) and it was a memorable experience.

Whilst Peter Molyneux gets a bad wrap from the pretentious gaming websites, due to ‘over promising’ I felt like I gained a lot of interest in his work and a better understanding for why these things have happened from his own perspective.

I asked Kev if he had an equivalent, we tried to book the guys that created Football Manager but they had to cancel. We got some god conversations on twitter and via email though, and these days he has a decent rapport with them from his channel.

He also asked for Tim and Tom from The Complete Guide to Everything, we got Tom on as a guest and that was great fun, we also got to visit their live show and have a beer with them, but it felt a bit like they weren’t sure of us, and I guess we felt a little small fry considering they were selling out shows in the UK while we were visiting those shows as audience members!

I’ve looked frequently, but I can’t find an equivalent for myself. I’ve had some really random encounters over the years and I’ve been to lots of conventions but for the most part I was seeing those people for the novelty of it.

I didn’t have a lifetime ambition to meet the characters of Buffy, it just seemed like a fun place to get drunk, meet girls, and have a party whilst TV folk drank in the bar with us, and signed autographs.

At the football I’ve had the pleasure of being in the right place to meet great players like Ginola and Mabbut, but I don’t really consider footballers to be mind blowing, they’re athletes doing a job.

I wrote a response to a comment on another post earlier today and I mentioned that doing the podcasts and so forth I’ve found that you can get in contact with pretty much anyone if you try hard enough.

I read an article later that day about a man who wrote to Fidel Castro when he was a kid saying he hoped that Cuba and the US would see peace one day, and he got a reply.

In terms of ‘business’ emailing, I’ve had a lot of success in reaching video game companies for review copies, reaching people of authority within companies like GAME to get comment on issues affecting our listeners.

I have a good rapport with some of the iTunes folk which has helped us out, and a lot of the skills i’ve built around reaching these people has proven invaluable in my actual day to day job selling cyber security services to big organisations.

All this talk of being able to contact anyone in the world, and that a kid was able to get the leader of Cuba to write to him in a time where Cuba were completely blocked off from the rest of the world, it made me think that whilst I don’t necessarily have any ‘heroes’ that i’m dying to meet, I do have people that I greatly admire the works of, or that I see as my ‘favourite’ in a specific field.

I was looking at the types of things I enjoy doing and it made me want to write a list of areas where I feel I could learn a lot from meeting someone. I figured that if the thoughts flow smoothly I might get some inspiration to work with.

Writing

There are lots of people I would love to talk to, including Robert Kirkman, Stephen King, George RR Martin, James Patterson, and many more.

Ultimately though I’ve been really hooked by Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics and more recently his American Gods story. I think his creativity and style is absolutely perfect and he seems to see the world in a way that few others do.

I’ve read a lot about him in the past, and the clever little things he does – like secretly autographing his own books whilst wandering the shops at airports around the world and placing them back on the shelves for some unsuspecting reader to purchase.

When I read his forewords and comments, he comes across as a great genius and in the press he seems like an extremely nice guy.

I fear though that meeting him or doing an interview would be awkward as hell because I just wouldn’t know what to say. You can’t exactly start handing him writing for review. You can’t start asking him where his ideas come from or how the hell he plucks stories from the dream world and puts them on paper. You can’t even ask for ‘spoilers’.

Philosophy

Love him or hate him, I’d love to meet Richard Dawkins and talk to him about how he thinks the universe pieces together etc.

Similar to the above though, how would you even go about that? ‘Alright Rich, fancy a chat about God?’ he’d just sigh and tell me to get lost.

I’m sure he is quite misrepresented in the press, but they love to make out that he is a bit cantankerous, so I doubt we’d ever be in the type of situation where our paths could cross. He’d never read my thoughts, and even if he did, they’re probably so basic he’d probably bill me for the lost minutes!

Podcasting / Hosting

Again there are lots of names out there. I’d love to talk to Tim Ferris about his talks and all of his works. I’d love to learn from some of the NPR hosts who seem to dominate the podcasting media field with their journalism skills.

Out of every radio show I’ve ever listened to though, only Chris Moyles has the style and approach to hosting that seems ‘right’ to me.

I don’t want to hear a polished robot sticking to the exact schedule set out in front of him, playing the precise songs at the precise time, and splitting to the news bang on the hour, etc. All of the BBC stations are like this. Magic and so forth are very rigid with their music and adverts.

I want a host who decides to go to ads when he damn well pleases. Who is happy to just turn the news off if he’s had enough – or if Leeds lost the night before.

This morning he played a jingle midway through the weather forecast because ‘meteorology is nonsense, you’re wrong half the time…’ he did have a ‘bit’ about how they claimed it’d be 20 degrees in half the places around the UK and rain in the other places, intermingled together. If it rains this weekend in London, he’s spot on.

It almost always makes sense. It’s more entertaining to just have the hosts seemingly winging it, talking about what they fancy.

Sure you get the occasional day where very little happens and they’re just talking about nothing, but you also get the highs where they go off on a mad tangent, forget to play songs, and end up late on the news because they were too busy having a laugh.

They aren’t afraid to take the Micky out of their employers, each other, or the listeners. I always find it a little surprising when people genuinely dislike him.

Like why bother with a radio if its just music you want? Or if you don’t want random talking and need a strict on topic conversation. Spotify (and other music streamers) and Podcasting cover most of those areas in much better ways. Live radio should be ad-hoc.

Internetting

Ok that isn’t a word, but there are a small group of people that I’d love to learn from. Rhett & Link, Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart and Mamri Hart.

These five people are either household names, or completely unknown depending on your age and how much time you spend online. The ‘holy trinity’ of Grace, Hannah and Mamri are freaking loaded from their success.

They have perfected Youtubing, made films, podcasts, books, songs, nailed social media and throughout seem fantastically normal and down to earth.

They’ve even joked off their amassed wealth by saying its all going on booze and nonsense, i’m sure it isn’t true but y’know – why the hell not?

Rhett and Link are like the head double act of internetting. They do their ‘good mythical morning’ daily show of nonsense on Youtube. They have made tons of awesome songs. Funny videos. They seem to just constantly create genius content to a high standard, again whilst seeming incredibly normal.

Much like our meeting with Tim and Tom from The Complete Guide though, what on earth do you say to people like this?

In that meeting we just tried to have a normal conversation about whatever was going on around us, and a little bit on the shared ‘oddness’ of being a podcaster where lots of people know your name but you don’t know theirs.

Conversation they’ve probably had a million times at the level they’re at, but something we’ve not really had a chance to talk to other podcasters about that often because we don’t really know many others and TCGTE are the only ‘bigger’ one I think we’ve met.

The guys above are 5 American Youtube power houses, getting a conversation with them would be impossible without building a massive following first.

They likely endure a daily torrent of suitors who would love to collaborate, interview, talk and learn from them, because they’re living the ‘dream’ scenario. It is stupidly hard work, but it doesn’t look like it form the outside.

Going back to the point of ‘everyone being contactable’ I wondered about setting myself the challenge of doing just that.

I don’t think I’d get anywhere, but it might be insightful if it works, and its a fun story to be able to say I had a chat with so and so, however brief.

I’ve got other names I’d love to talk to. In music for example I’ve always wanted to talk to Dexter Holland from The Offspring. Claudio Sanchez from Coheed and Cambria. Elton John would be awesome. I’d like to tell The Foo Fighters to retire before it just gets silly.

I could go on forever with this and I think the update has served a bit of a purpose in that regard!

Who would you meet if you could? I think I enjoy getting other people in contact with their choices more than enduring the awkwardness of trying to meet the ones that interest me.

Who is your hero?

I’m going to be cheesy and say My Dad, for all his hard work raising me, my sister and our cousin and his general work ethic (30 years without a day off sick!), ability to do anything with skill, and his extremely controlled mindset under pressure.

I sometimes wonder how someone so calm and passive, so strong and enduring, so hard working and uncompromising, and so well trained, could have a son so crazy, frantic, weak and lazy.

Where he prefers to get things done and does them well, I prefer to delegate and have it done properly without me cocking it up.

He has gone over three decades without a sick day, I’m not even gone three months. I think I have three weeks under my belt, but I did go early last week for a doctors appointment so that probably doesn’t count!

Maybe if I vow today to never be off sick again, I can get to 62 without a day off. Come to think of it, he’s 60 next year..maybe that’s what happened with him!

Anyway enough of that sappy nonsense, I’m seeing him for a Spurs match at Wembley tomorrow so I won’t want to be too kind in advance.

Leave a comment, especially if I’ve forgotten someone obvious or you’re sharing your heroes. If I can figure out a way to hook you up with an interview then let me know!

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