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Living A Life In Full

Dec 1, 2019

Did you ever wonder if anything ever spooked Warren Buffett? Or how Jeff Koons got started?

In the spirit of Tim Ferriss’ books, Tribe of Mentors and Tools of Titans, Gillian Zoe Segal spent five years meeting, interviewing and photographing 30 diversely successful billionaires (Buffett, Sara Blakely, Michael Bloomberg), artists (Jeff Koons, Marina Abramović), creatives (Frank Gehry, Hans Zimmer, Matthew Weiner), authors (Anderson Cooper, Graydon Carter, Jeff Kinney), athletes (Laird Hamilton, Jillian Michaels), and of course a Harvard Dean and Nobel Laureate along with various and sundry inventors, leaders, and pioneers.

The result is a wonderful book of inspirational backstories and actionable approaches, aptly titled Getting There: A Book of Mentors.

Gillian Zoe Segal is an entrepreneur, CNBC contributor, photographer and author of not only Getting There: A Book of Mentors but also New York Characters. She was also one of LinkedIn’s top voices and is a professional speaker having spoken at Google, Royal Bank of Canada, Lexis-Nexis, and numerous other venues across North America. Gillian received a BA from the University of Michigan and a law degree from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University.

I first came across Gillian in Omaha at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting where she was doing a book signing. In this episode we learn how growing up in New York City shaped her and her writing, particularly her first book New York Characters.

Getting There is a literal who’s who of interviewees, but New York Characters, while having many celebrities and notables, it is much more eclectic. We talk about the how she came up with that idea, along with a budding genre, like Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York.

She tells us how she transitioned from law school graduate to photographer and author, along with the backstory to getting her first book published and how she got George Plimpton to not only be in it, but also write the Foreword.

Speaking to her humanity, her author proceeds from the sale of New York Characters went to the families of the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

We do deep dives into both of her books and learn how she went about reaching those profiled, how she convinced them to be in, who was the hardest to get on board and who was the easiest.

It’s interesting to learn that many of those profiled had failures and some pretty difficult beginnings. She also uncovered commonalities among these amazingly successful people and discusses them, along with a few surprises. We even learn how she composed her shots. 

Gillian had the benefit of doing a deep question and answer session with 30 of some of the most successful people in the world, and we find out how she changed as a result. 

Gillian, like those she’s interviewed, lives a life in full. She is gracious enough to have put her findings and experiences into words and pictures so we can as well.