Why You Need a People Bucket List

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In all likelihood you’re familiar with the term “bucket list” made extremely popular from the 2007 Morgan Freeman, Jack Nicholson film by the same name.

people bucket list
photo credit: peasap via photopin cc

I hear this concept, making a list of all the things you want to do before you die, tossed around in entrepreneurial circles frequently and it occurred to me that there’s another kind of bucket list that actually might be more important in business.

To me, every entrepreneur should first and foremost get to work on their “people bucket list.” This is simply a list of all the people they want to meet before they retire. (Whatever retirement looks like.)

I think there are some incredibly powerful and practical reasons for creating and keeping such a list. Sure, you can have famous people on the list that you would love to meet in person, but perhaps more importantly this list could consist of mentors, influencers and people with skills and experience that you need to acquire in order to succeed.

Targeting and building relationships with people that have accomplished some or all of your vision for business is a smart strategy for growth. Not simply so you can check names off your list, but so you can gain from knowing what they know, following their path and ultimately tapping them as a resource in some manner at some time.

Obviously I’m not talking about stalking, I’m talking about giving to build bridges.

Early in my business I read The E-Myth by Michael Gerber and determined I would meet him and learn from him. I licensed his E-Myth Program and worked with him on numerous occasions. He greatly influenced the direction of my work and even contributed a lovely foreword to my first book Duct Tape Marketing.

If I could go back in time I would add Peter Drucker to my list, but in the last few years I’ve met and worked with Tom Peters, Kevin Kelly, Scott Cook, Anne Lamott, Martha Beck, Doc Searls, Andrew Mason, Phil Libin, Jason Fried, John Mackey, Harvey Mackay, Dan Sullivan, Arianna Huffington, Ray Kurzwell and Seth Godin – all people high on my list for various reasons.

Currently, I would love an introduction to Herb Kelleher if anyone can make that happen!

My people bucket list is always evolving and there will always be names both famous and obscure, but I believe that stretching to build relationships with members of this list is a key to my own business and personal growth.

Want to know a powerful way to connect with people on your list? Start and build a podcast. That’s right, my podcast, or more specifically, my offer to interview and promote people on my list has opened doors and launched relationships like no other approach.

Business leaders and authors have a very hard time turning down interview requests, particularly in and around the launch of a new book or project. Now, keep in mind that no matter whom you put on your list you should start first by trying to determine how you might add value to their world and then move on to why you want to meet them.

So, who’s on your people bucket list?


bucket list

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  1. Ken Blanchard’s teachings have influenced the way I lead my Life in a profound way. I would LOVE to meet him and working with him would be not only an honor but a dream come true to me.

        1. Bruno,

          I had the great privilege of completing my MBA under the direct tutelage of Dr. Ken Blanchard. He is truly an inspirational leader in so many ways. I can tell you first hand he practices what he preaches and is a man worthy of your praise. Good luck in your quest to meet him!

          1. Wow Gary – what an outstanding experience! What’s your most precious memory from that journey?

          2. There are many, but to name one it would have to be when he led us all to this sculpture of Christ washing the feet of Simon Peter located behind his office and spoke to us about the greatest Servant Leader to walk the earth. It was a powerful lesson on the importance of serving others!

          3. Fantastic Gary! Ken is right – it all comes down to one question that we all should answer with our Hearts: “Am I here to serve or be served?”

            Thank you for sharing Gary!

  2. Creating a people bucket list is a great idea because business is all about connections. It’s also true that it’s always better to know how you can create value for the people on your list, instead of the other way around.

  3. Thanks John this is a fabulous idea of people bucket list and yes surely we need to be careful whom we put on the list.

  4. Hi John,

    Great post. I call my ‘people bucket list’ my “aspirational contact list” which is @KeithFerrazzi’s language.

    I like to be purposeful lead with generosity. My approach is follow them on social media, read their blogs, read their books, leave Amazon reviews and pay to see them speak. If I make some initial contact, I’ll initiate some email contact and ideally ask to interview them for my blog. It’s always about spreading their ideas first.

    Some people I’ve been lucky enough to meet include Chris Brogan, Gary V, Brian Solis, Susan Cain, Liz Wiseman, Jim Collins, Jason Fried and David Meerman Scott. Although I’ve haven’t ‘worked’ with them all, yet 😉

    All the best,


    PS. Thank you for all your great articles, books and podcasts! You’re on my people bucket list, so hopefully I will get to meet and interview you one day soon too!

    1. Thanks Adam – your approach is right on and nice system to follow. I’m out there on the road at lots of conferences so looking forward to bumping into you at one.

  5. Thanks John for the article. I actually did write in my bucket list the name of a few people I want to meet, some mentors, some bloggers I follow. Considering a podcast too, maybe a new reason to get started then?

  6. A very good post! People’s bucket list can be a very potent tool for identifying the right kind of people you want to do business with.Every intelligent leader creates a team of capable people who have the ability to make life easier for them.I am happy to feature in the people bucket list of Kulwinder Singh – Director of global marketing and communication team at Synechron.

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