by Jack Warren, editor and host of Top Coach
In the summer of 2015, my dear bride and I took a long-postponed anniversary trip down the length of California’s Pacific Coast Highway. Despite the buildup and the long wait, neither one of us were disappointed in the least. It was everything we expected and more.
Along the way we stopped at the estate of the late publishing magnate, William Randolph Hearst, in San Simeon. We didn’t know at the time whether we actually wanted to stop or not, interrupting what was probably the most beautiful drive we’ve ever experienced. We did, in fact, decide right at the last minute to take the left turn into the visitor center and take the bus ride up the winding road to the top of the hill to Hearst Castle.
The buildings and land were incredible, but the one item that I’ll take with me forever is the description by the tour guide of the almost constant gatherings of entertainers, politicians, industrialists, entrepreneurs, journalists, writers, artists, business leaders, and more. It was non-stop and ever-rotating. They came in by ones and twos and left when they pleased. Every day marked the arrival by boat, train, plane, and automobile of people that Hearst thought were making some kind of contribution to society. They would arrive at the Hearst estate and be shown to a room, assigned one of the house staff for the duration, and commence to do pretty much whatever they desired. Activities included horseback riding, swimming (indoor and out), shooting, archery, billiards and games, almost non-stop eating, hiking, and more.
What is fascinating about all of this, however, is the real reason why Hearst brought these people together. You see, Hearst stayed up on the top level of his estate nearly the whole day, from where he ran his vast publishing empire, leaving his guests to their own devices until dinner time. It was at that point that he would join them in the large dining room at an incredibly long and narrow dining table. Hearst would sit towards the middle of the table, with his guests sitting where they were assigned. If what you had to say piqued Hearst’s interest, you would sit towards the middle near Hearst. As he found you less interesting, you were moved toward the end. So even if your name was Cary Grant, Charlie Chaplin, or Charles Lindbergh, once your conversation bored the host, you might find yourself slipping to a less prominent table position.
I tell this whole story to point out the value of surrounding yourself with people from whom you can constantly learn. That is what Hearst was doing. In today’s parlance we might call Hearst’s gathering a mastermind or mastermind group – albeit an informal one that was constantly changing. These types of groups have experienced a resurgence of late, although they’ve been around for a long time. Benjamin Franklin even organized his own group.
Learning ought to be consistent throughout our lives or we become stagnant. One great way to do this is to meet consistently with a group of people with whom you share values, philosophies, or goals. These people can help you vet your ideas, give positive reinforcement, and hold you accountable – among many other benefits. And perhaps equally as valuable, these people put you in position to always be learning. Like Hearst, surround yourself with people who know things that you want to know.
Jack Warren is the host and editor of Top Coach Baseball, the owner of Cornbelt Sports, and a speaker and career coach for athletic coaches. More information can be found at JackWWarren.com.