So I wrote yesterday about the influence that Steve Blank’s book had on me and that I was in Bend, Oregon, at the venture conference. The night before the conference itself is a networking event. I went, talked to some people I knew, met a few others. Across the room was Steve Blank so I went over to introduce myself and, if he was interested, tell him the story I told you yesterday. (People love to hear how influential they are so I thought it’d be a good icebreaker.)
Steve was deep in conversation with someone else — although he did take enough time to say hi and introduce himself. I waited patiently for 20 minutes and the minute he was done, he turned and walked away so quickly I didn’t even get the chance to say anything .
I kind of stood there dumb-founded, not just because of how abruptly he left but also a little mad at myself for having stood there for 20 minutes like some idiotic fanboy.
So I started talking to the guy Steve was talking to and it turned out that he was a fascinating guy. Tim Gieseler started a small company to sell telescopes to hobbyists. He grew the business first by selling other people’s telescopes and eventually building their own. He ran Orion for over 30 years before selling it, by which point it had become the largest creator and seller of telescopes and accessories to amateur astronomers.
We had an amazing and long conversation about his business, about Equals, about the ups and downs of running businesses over the long-term, something that is neither talked about nor celebrated much in today’s get-rich-quick start-up culture.
The serendipity was overwhelming to me. Now I was thankful that I stood there like an idiotic fanboy for 20 minutes. It just turns out I was waiting there to talk with the wrong person. Luckily fate stepped in.
 I did meet him again the next day and got the chance to tell him my story.