In 2014, Dushime Gashugi's first business – a small investment fund – tanked. "I was not listening to anyone or taking advice," the 29-year-old entrepreneur tells CNBC.
Gashugi realized if he was going to be a successful CEO one day, he had a lot to learn. So he wanted to find a way to ask the smartest and the best business people in the world for guidance.
The Allen & Company conference at the Sun Valley Resort in Idaho, which each July attracts some of the top CEOs, moguls and venture capitalists, seemed like a perfect opportunity.
"I thought, 'I'm just going to show up,'" Gashugi tells CNBC.
For the last three years, Gashugi, who has a degree in economics from University of Chicago, says he has driven 14 hours from his home in California to Sun Valley to try and talk to conference attendees.
In 2015 Gashugi says it worked — he was able to hang around the public areas of the Sun Valley Resort, chatting with conference attendees, collecting valuable advice about success from billionaires. Ditto for 2016, until his visit was cut short when resort security asked him to leave.
Not one to give up, this year, Dashugi camped out on Sun Valley Road in nearby Ketchum, a route he says conference attendees often frequent. He was holding a sign that read, "Messrs. Bloomberg & Gates: Entrepreneur from CA seeks advice. Coffee's on me." It also listed Gashugi's cell phone number.
Though he had no luck getting a response, he says the advice he's already received is priceless.
Though Gashugi declines to publicly name the business titans with whom he's spoken to respect their privacy, he is willing to share the wisdom. Here are the best three tips he's gotten out of Sun Valley:
1. You 'll never be able to attract and retain talent better than you, so you have to be the person you want to hire
According to Gashugi, a billionaire fashion mogul told him that if you want to work with people who are relentless, who don't let rejection stop them, who take responsibility for themselves and their people – all the things crucial to success – then "you have to be that person first." That's how you attract those people to you.
2. Never stop learning
"Read," is the simple advice Dashugi got from a billionaire venture capitalist. Read everything about business that you can get your hands on, every day, he recalls the VC advising. Stay on top of what's happening and learn more than anyone else on the subject. That's how develop your advantage and your instincts.
3. Pick the right life partner
Another venture capital mogul advised Gashugi that one of the decisions most crucial to success has nothing to do with business. Being with the right person is essential, so marry for character, Gashugi recounts the VC saying. You'll need the support.
The VC told Gashugi you should find someone who "doesn't want to change you, who inspires and supports you and helps you keep growing," he recalls. "Otherwise everything else you build will be a house of cards."
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