In addition to collecting interesting information that later is useful to people I meet, I’m also known for my ability to discover information I don’t already know. Both of these abilities are based on a skill you can hone yourself to better access information you need – it all comes down to paying attention to details.
It’s not always easy for me to demonstrate how I do this in a straightforward way, but I just did a quick information discovery exercise that serves as a clear example:
The question I wanted to answer was
Are the two guys who sat next to me on the plane to Palm Springs somebody (semi)famous?
I don’t keep up with the celebrity world, so Madonna or Justin Bieber could sit next to me without my having a clue. Thus when I saw two middle-aged blonde guys with guitars at the Dallas-Fort Worth departure lounge I just figured they could be any pair of local musicians. Then it turned out they were in my row on the flight.
The guy to my right was on his phone talking to someone with a show in Las Vegas about arranging a short meet & greet with the showman for two young fans, then with someone else about a booker. So I figured he had a bigger reputation than just a local band or a backing player.
The details I had were:
- They were both guitarists.
- They looked a lot alike so were perhaps related.
- They had boarded in the higher-status group (Admiral’s Club/Gold members/1st Class) but were not sitting in 1st Class – our row was “Economy but for more $ you can have leg room.” So they travel a lot but aren’t rich/pretentious/hassled by fans enough to ante up for 1st Class seats.
- The flight was arriving Wednesday night at 8:50pm so they were probably playing a show in Palm Springs, which has a lot of music venues, on Thursday night because if they weren’t from there why would they fly in Wednesday for a Friday or Saturday show?
- Since this guy had the phone number of someone headlining in Las Vegas he’s not some unknown yahoo, so is probably playing at one of the more upscale venues.
- I had heard him or his traveling partner refer to him as “Gunn” so I had a partial name to match.
The next step was to use the above details to search for possible show listing. In the morning
- I Googled “live music in Palm Springs CA”
- From the results I picked a link to Palm Springs Events and Calendar of Shows – Palm Springs California.
- The site had a searchable calendar. I selected Category = Music, which gave me over 16 pages of events.
- But that results page also gave me a more granular search feature, allowing me to specify Category= Music and Date Range= today and tomorrow.
- That gave me a more manageable 5 pages of listings, which I started scanning.
- The first page was all listings for weekly events with either no particular band mentioned or else the same person/band each week. I skipped through those as lower level venues.
- The second page had the result matching my clues: related musicians in their 40s, one of whom had a name like “Gunn”, who were the sons of a medium-level 60s Pop star who was in turn the son of 30s-40s radio and 50s-60s TV sitcom stars:
I’d seen the Ozzie and Harriet sitcom in the early 60s, on which their son Rick would play guitar, and vaguely remembered his “Garden Party” song from the early 70s. I had no knowledge of his twin sons.