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Discover the art of connecting

I want you to take a moment and think about someone who's had a big impact on your life.

When and how did you meet them? What did you learn from them? Why is your life different today because of them?

We are all individuals with our own lifetime of experiences; however, I believe that we are also derivatives of everyone we meet along the way. I believe that every human interaction, no matter how brief, has the potential to change your life. And if this holds true, why would we not try to maximize that potential?

Think back to the impact that person had on your life. What if you could multiply this value by 10, by 1,000 or even 10,000?! Well, that's what I've strived to do over the last 7 years of my life. In 2015, I set a goal to spend 1 hour, 1:1, with 10,000 different people. I wanted to see what happens when you open yourself up to the people around you, I wanted to set a positive example of human connection and I wanted to encourage others to treat it as an experience rather than a transaction.

To date, I've met over 5,100 people across ~90 countries around the world. I met the majority of them in person while in recent years I've enlisted the help of Zoom, and through my journey I've gained a deeper appreciation of what it means to connect.

What's the agenda? What are you getting out of it? Why would you meet random people? These are all questions I've been asked by observers of my mission. In response, I've always thought, "Why WOULDN'T you meet random people?"

Imagine being able to walk through Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York City and run into familiar faces in each place. Or fly to Egypt, Latvia, Brazil and Malaysia and meet up with friends who are happy to host you / show you around.

Think about how it'd feel to have a greater appreciation for your family, knowing that many people (possibly including yourself) have lost loved ones and no longer have the luxury of time with them.

Envision a world in which you share in the other 7.9 billion life experiences happening each day. What songs would you hear? What foods would you taste? What sites would you see? Which mindsets would you adopt?

Meeting people is more than networking or dating. It's an opportunity to enrich your life as each person is a bridge to another universe, occupied with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness.

We think of ourselves as such complicated beings (which we definitely are at times), and while the details may differ, the themes of humanity remain constant no matter who you are.

We all have family dynamics which have an emotional impact on who we are. We all have education paths which have led (or will lead) us into our careers to pay the bills. We all have recreational hobbies that we enjoy when we're not at work. And we all have dreams of where we'd like to go with our lives.

When we understand this, we're able to honor each other's similarities while embracing our differences. Each of our lives is a movie playing out in real time; one we can watch in awe if we simply acknowledge these themes.

I want you to think back on that person who's had a big impact on your life. Who else has impacted your life? Who else COULD impact your life?

Connection is one of the free pleasures of life that can take place in a park, in line at a coffee shop or on the train to work. More than a promotion, a report, an exercise or a book, it can brighten your future if you let it. Therefore, I encourage you to think about the person next to you the next time you’re out. Are they a stranger or a bridge to something much, much greater? The choice is yours.

Rob Lawless, Founder, Robs10KFriends

Rob will explore the art of intentionally making meaningful connections that have an impact in his opening keynote session, Creating Empathy through Conversation. Join us for more thought leadership at the connect2comms Marketing & Communications Conference October 19-26, in Greenville, SC.

Get a sneak peek of Rob on The Kelly Clarkson Show as he shares his personal mission to connect 1:1 for one hour with 10,000 people.