Back in 2014, my boss told me to draft an email to Jack Welch (you read it right). I never dared to ask why we are even doing this. I thought why would Jack Welch or his team even read this email and reply.
But Jack’s team replied:
“With Mr. Welch’s current schedule, a trip quite this far, unfortunately, doesn’t look feasible for this fall. To give you some general information, Mr. Welch has a two date guarantee for international appearances, with each appearance at an honorarium of $150,000 (a total of $300,000) plus private plane expenses, one suite, and one standard room at the hotel of his choice, security, ground transportation and meals for two.”
It was not a surprise or shock.
Why did we even write to him in the first place?
Were we stupid? Maybe.
In hindsight, was my boss aiming for the stars, in the hope of finding a moon? Who knows?
Back then, “Make in India” had different traction altogether. The attempt was to invite such luminaries to deliver a speech on digital transformation in manufacturing in India. The plan was to give it good media coverage and launch a program for the manufacturing group under that media Buzz.
The underlying belief was that sometimes some people are more accessible than you think they are.
We not only wrote to Jack Welch but also reached out to Seth Godin, Clayton Christensen, and some Harvard professors. Every time we received a very warm reply. Some kindly declined and some quoted obscene amounts.
The result? We consolidated the findings and reported them to the management. There were discussions around budget and approach. One thing led to another. Eventually, we settled for some IIM Professors.
Was it a big success? Not really. However, the event started moving things. It gave us the required momentum to progress. We were comfortable inviting people and conducting events.
Cost of trying and failing in digital world is too small. It is worth taking that moonshot.