Julian Guthrie | How to Make a Spaceship (Episode 577)

Julian Guthrie (@JulianGuthrie) is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author. She joins us to discuss her new book How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight.

The Cheat Sheet:

  • How Julian Guthrie gets in touch with hard-to-reach people.
  • The types of habits and backgrounds shared by the movers and shakers of the aerospace industry — itself a magnet for high achievers.
  • How incentive competitions can spark an industry or even jumpstart a lagging field — and why.
  • Why it’s crucial to be relentless in the pursuit of your vision and able to convey the sincerity of your passion.
  • How to stay focused on the task at hand in the face of consistent rejection.
  • And so much more…

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Julian Guthrie’s new book, How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight, is a story of how history was made by entrepreneur Peter Diamandis’ dream to reach space independent of government assistance and the incredible innovations, courage, and determination of others to make it possible.

Julian joins the show to talk about what we can learn from these risk takers, renegades, and mavericks, why they should be the mentors to the next generation, and what bounties we can expect from commercial space. Enjoy!

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More About This Show

As an award-winning, Pulitzer-nominated journalist for over 20 years, Julian Guthrie seems to have a knack for writing about hard-to-reach people. From her bestselling The Billionaire and the Mechanic: How Larry Ellison and a Car Mechanic Teamed up to Win Sailing’s Greatest Race, the America’s Cup, Twice to her recently published How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight, she’s secured access to some famously private people.

But it’s not easy — it requires a lot of persistence. She spent months trying to get an interview with Oracle’s Larry Ellison until eventually someone close to him gave her the secret: “You have to email him at this time of night,” says Julian. “That’s the only time he reads his own emails. So I’d wake up at one a.m. and I’d email him. I learned little tricks in terms of when to reach him, how to reach him, [with] short brevity.”

In the case with Peter Diamandis, she did a page profile of him for the San Francisco Chronicle and they hit it off — so they already had a rapport by the time she decided to write How to Make a Spaceship about him and his private space venture. This was comparatively easy.

With others like Richard Branson (who wrote the foreword) and Stephen Hawking (who wrote the afterword), it was just a matter of knowing people who could make the introductions — but maintaining persistence and expressing how sincerely passionate she was about the project made it an easier sell.

It also helped that she had a long reputation as a reporter who “is very devoted to getting the facts right, getting the story right, and also [being] trustworthy,” says Julian. “I’m not going to double-cross anyone. People trust me with a lot of secrets. When someone tells me it’s ‘off the record,’ it’s genuinely off the record.”

She gives us an example of the time Peter Diamandis told her about a specific asteroid that one of his companies was aiming to mine. He realized soon afterwards that disclosing such details might jeopardize the mission if his competitors got wind of these details, so a quick phone call to Julian and a reassurance that they wouldn’t make it into the story reinforced both her reputation as a scrupulous reporter and his trust in her.

When it came time to write How to Make a Spaceship, Peter felt comfortable sharing 25 years of personal journals with her, which were invaluable to the project. “I was so moved by this very raw look at his life and how many times he failed before he succeeded,” Julian says. “Even though I knew what the outcome was, I was rooting for this kid — starting as a teenager. There are just great messages in his story about perseverance and this guy who just got knocked down time and again, was told ‘no’ time and again, was rejected time and again, and seemingly failed in these missions, yet kept at it.”

Listen to this episode of The Art of Charm in its entirety to learn more about why people ever tell reporters about things ‘off the record,’ how Julian became a space geek (but why you’ll still benefit from How to Make a Spaceship even if you’re not), how parents can encourage children to think big and chase their dreams on a Peter Diamandis level, how even those who falter in pursuit of the XPRIZE often go on to do incredible things in related (and not-so-related) fields, how the most visionary minds in technology connect the dots most of us miss, and lots more.

THANKS, JULIAN GUTHRIE!

If you enjoyed this session with Julian Guthrie, let her know by clicking on the link below and sending her a quick shout out at Twitter:

Click here to thank Julian Guthrie at Twitter!

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Jordan Harbinger - author of 898 posts on The Art of Charm

Jordan Harbinger has spent several years abroad in Europe and the developing world, including South America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, and speaks several languages. He has also worked for various governments and NGOs overseas, traveled through war zones, and been kidnapped -- twice. He’ll tell you the only reason he’s still alive and kicking is because of his ability to talk his way into (and out of) just about any type of situation. Here at The Art of Charm, Jordan shares that experience, and the system borne as a result, with students and clients.

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