There are lots of ways to change your life, but Basecamp's Dan Kim has a suggestion that's both super simple and probably new to you -- just email the people you admire.

Reaching out to your role models might sound more like stalking than self-improvement at first, but on Signal v. Noise Kim tells a few great personal stories to prove that a quick email to the right person can make all the difference in your life.

For instance, a few friendly exchanges were the catalyst that landed him his current job. "Before I started working at Basecamp, I would occasionally email Jason--just to say hello and to thank him and the team for Basecamp. Eventually those individual emails turned into conversations. And those conversations ultimately turned into my dream job," Kim writes. He knows others who have had similar experiences.

It might seem weird to cold email a stranger (and it can totally be strange if you write something book-length or creepy, but you wouldn't do that). But if you keep it light, positive and relatively brief, having the courage to simply reach out can have profound consequences both personally and professionally -- you might land a job, make a friend, learn something useful, or gain a whole new perspective.

And really, what's the worst that can happen? No reply at all?

"All the headlines keep declaring that email is dead, but it absolutely isn't. Let your ideas, genuine gratitude, and personality shine in an email. You might be surprised what it leads to," Kim declares.

So what are you up to today -- do you have any small holes in your schedule? If you do, maybe spending a few minutes reaching out to say thank you to someone you deeply admire might be the best way to spend those minutes.

Which professional role model would you most like to connect with?

Published on: May 19, 2016
The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of