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The grounds of the Sun Valley resort in Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., on Tuesday, July 5, 2011.
Gashugi would then ask the billionaire or VC or CEO if they had a moment to give him some advice. “I asked them the question: Who do I need to become to produce on your level? You have 24 hours in a day, I have 24 hours in a day, so what’s the difference between us?”
To the Allen & Co. attendees, Gashugi was just some random guy. Yet so many took the time to talk to him. He was humbled.
In those moments, those powerful people “made me feel like their most important client,” he says. Many said no one else had ever tried to talk to them during the Sun Valley retreat.
Gashugi declines to publicly name the attendees he has spoken to, out of respect for their privacy, but he claims that some of the most helpful included a billionaire fashion mogul, the founder of a company that does about half a billion in annual revenue, and several billionaire VCs.
It inspired him. “They don’t have anything to prove. They’re not looking for anything in return,” he says. “How can I not treat people at least as kindly as they treated me?”
In 2015, Gashugi made a list of the top 25 people on the Forbes’ billionaires list, which ranks the richest people in the world. And he developed a new tactic: He read all their books, and when he saw one of them in Sun Valley, he used their work as an ice breaker. Then he boldly asked for their contact information. One of his goals was to build a priceless network of mentors before his 30th birthday.
According to the entrepreneur, he met about six people on that list. His visit was cut short, however, after security guards asked him to leave.
This year, Gashugi was back, but he stuck to the town square in nearby Ketchum, less than a mile from the resort. According to him, attendees often drive between Sun Valley and Ketchum to eat, network and broker deals.