How I met Chamath Palihapitiya

Last week I had the chance to meet Chamath Palihapitiya. I've admired him for a long time not only because of his investing track record, but more-so his willingness to call out people in his own industry for bad behavior and misaligned incentives. This has been a principle of mine in Real Estate Private Equity and I've had the confidence to do it because of great investors like Chamath, who show it can be done.

I'll tell you the story of how I met him and then how you can apply this same framework to meet people that you admire as well.

Last Sunday, I was driving home from the gym and I was listening to the All-in podcast. On the podcast, David Friedberg mentioned that Chamath should run for governor of California. Chamath joked around a bit but then turned serious and laid out his platform of the six things he think would help California dig itself out of the current hole they're in. When I got home, I had an idea. I should build a quick website and send it to him. If he's serious, he'll like it and maybe it will be the first step to get him to run for governor.

So, when I get home I tweeted this:

Someone who follows me on Twitter, Amaan, reached out to me. Here's how that conversation went:

24 hours later, Amaan had built this very simple website: www.chamathforca.com

I then found Chamath's email and sent him this note on the evening of Monday, January 25th that said "hey - we made this for you and you should do this!" I went to bed that night and the next morning I woke up to 3 emails from Chamath, one of them asking to if I had time to meet the next day.

On Monday night, Chamath had tweeted out the website and nearly 20,000 people signed up on the website mailing list.

On Tuesday, every news organization picked up the story and ran with it:

One side note, this shows how thirsty news organizations are for clicks. There was no confirmation of Chamath running for governor, just a couple guys that built a website and a tweet. But reading these headlines, you'd think Chamath was the next governor of California.

Back to the story: That evening, we got on a Zoom call with Chamath. We started out introducing ourselves, telling our stories about living in California and why we left, and just getting to know each other a bit. Then Chamath got into the zone and went through each of his policy proposals and gave details on each. At the end of the meeting he mentioned how amazing it was that we put this together and we all reflected on the power of the internet in being able to bring people together from various parts of the world. He mentioned how he was humbled and so grateful for us in putting this together. I've met enough wealthy people that are arrogant and complete assholes. Chamath was the complete opposite of that. He was humble, kind, and a great listener. He was willing to have a back and forth, and listen & engage with three guys he had just met.

Reflecting on this experience, I never had any intention of trying to meet him. I just had an itch to build something cool, ship it, and see if we could get some momentum behind an an intelligent guy to fix California's problems.

What I came to realize is that I have stumbled upon a framework for being able to meet people that you admire or want to attract into your life. I can't tell you the amount of people that either DM me on Twitter or cold e-mail me asking to get coffee, lunch, or pick my brain on how they can get started in Real Estate. While I love to help people, I just don't have the time to do the easy things in 1-on-1 settings. Most of the "how to get started" advice is easily searchable online or even from stuff I've written online or videos I've posted on Youtube. If you want to meet someone, you have to stop asking to pick their brain. But instead, you should find how you can add value to them. Here's my new framework of how to meet interesting people you admire:

  • Step 1: Find the person that you want to meet
  • Step 2: Read as much as you can about them online (ideally what they've written in their own words or posted videos about)
  • Step 3: From Step 2, you will have hopefully learned what they're interested in, a problem they're facing, or how they need help in some way
  • Step 4: Create something that helps them solve that problem. Does it save them time? Make them happier? Make them more money? Or solve another problem they've talked about? Do this with NO EXPECTATIONS of you receiving anything in return or even them responding to your message.
  • Step 5: Find their email on www.hunter.io. and email them. Depending on who this person is I avoid the Twitter DMs, or some other social media because they probably get blasted with messages through those mediums. Most people don't take the time to find their email.

And that's the framework. If you want to meet cool people, you have to do cool shit.