The question is a common icebreaker with similar answers. Steve Jobs. Muhammad Ali. The Pope. Michael Jordan. Steven Spielberg. Albert Einstein. Abraham Lincoln. Nikola Tesla. Walt Disney.
They are chosen for contributions to their occupation, experience, and collective genius. By dining with them, we hope to learn, and if we are lucky, be offered a shred of advice that might help in our own profession.
Muhlenhaupt + Company works to make our clients’ goals and loftiest dreams a reality. It’s nice to daydream what it would be like to break bread with fantasy guests but there is practical magic happening at every Luminary Dinner. It occurs when leaders and CEO’s build lifelong relationships and overcome obstacles to rapid growth.
Todd Staples is the founder and host of the monthly Luminary Dinners. He is an online marketing expert, a former lead conversion rate optimization consultant for the #1 CRO agency in the world, and is now the Director of Revenue Optimization at Muhlenhaupt + Company. Staples has generated $10’s of millions in profit for his clients by helping them create engaging online experiences, get more leads, and significantly increase their online sales. He’s also a former “Fear Factor” champion. After jumping out of helicopters, eating things like bull “pissel” (Google it. It IS what you think it is) and coagulated blood pizza with fish eye and live worm toppings, Todd won $50k that he subsequently put towards starting his first business, Stealth Auto, an ecommerce store.
The key ingredient of the Luminary Dinner is Staples’ desire to connect people with common ambitions and values. Luminary Dinners offer an opportunity for people who are usually only involved in business networking sessions to get together in a more casual environment.
Don’t expect the trite routine of networking events where you go around the room and recite your name and occupation. Staples provides a list of questions to help attendees get acquainted.
“What is something you have invested time or money in that has had a dramatic positive impact on your business?” Staples asks.
It’s also an opportunity to discuss difficulties with questions like: “What is one thing you KNOW you should be doing, but you are not (or not doing it as much as you should)?”
The Luminary Dinner is an invitation to Muhlenhaupt + Company’s home. You will be dining at our kitchen table, and like the one at your house, we hope you will share your ideas, victories, and challenges.
“The mindset of gathering people together to eat, drink, and talk is very different than a business networking event,” said Staples.
During each dinner, Staples asks questions to get at the heart of who people are and why they do what they do. Sometimes guests dive deep into marketing and sales strategies or “hacks.” But most often, the discussion revolves around peoples core values, how they’ve successfully tackled their biggest challenges or what they are currently passionate about.
“This is where you have a group of intelligent people. It’s small enough where it is intimate but large enough that there are a lot of different perspectives. And it all happens over a good meal!” added Ryan Draving, Senior Partner, Head of Strategy at Muhlenhaupt + Company.
While you won’t be asking a former POTUS or Bill Gates to pass the butter, the Luminary Dinner often features CEOs of mid-size companies and non-profit leaders.
“It’s about getting people together who have deep experience in pursuing their passion or career and creating something magical,” explained Staples who heavily centers the evening on people with leadership experience.
The dinner offers many surprising insights. Feedback is overwhelmingly positive due to the combination of dialogue and inspiration of new thought processes. Many guests stay after to dinner to continue conversations and plan to return.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been to a ‘networking’ event that I enjoyed in the first 5-20 minutes until tonight,” said a guest at a Luminary Dinner.
“People open up and are intimate with each other in a way that doesn’t happen with networking. You learn things that are inspiring, quirky, and fascinating and are often about learning lessons from big defeats or big fears,” said Staples.
Where networking events can sometimes morph into gossip sessions and lack discretion, what is discussed at Luminary Dinner is proprietary. The intimate nature of the dinners proves to be fertile grounds for forming relationships. Staples has seen people become business partners, employers, and friends from their initial connection at a Luminary Dinner.
“The most successful business ventures and personal relationships happen when you connect people who share common core values,” said Staples.
Maybe it’s not magical.