Your job will not take care of you when you get sick. Work will not bail you out of jail. Friends and family will. Put them first in your life. When embarking on your career, building companies or engaging in a hobby, make people a priority as a general rule. Culture and the success of your work stem entirely from the health, attitude and relationships of people surrounding the job. Treat them very well, take care of them – and perhaps they will do the same for you. The risk of taking care of others without the guarantee of a returned favor far outshines the risk of working eighty hour weeks alone.
1. I get to pick the menu.
2. Almost everyone has the day off.
3. I only need to write thank you notes once a year.
4. You get to spend the day with family, even members who live far away.
5. Old friends are in town, making it easier to connect and party around the date.
6. You’re not the only one opening gifts (it’s awkward otherwise).
7. Presents can be bigger and more expensive.
8. It’s better than being overshadowed by Christmas with a birthday just before or after.
9. Everyone is usually in good spirits.
10. The world decorates, plays music, and anticipates my birthday.
11. It’s impossible for me and close friends to forget.
12. It feels like a special date (rather than just another work day)
The two most common icebreaker questions in Los Angeles are “where are you from” and “what do you do (for a living)?” Understandable, because few people actually grew up here and most relocated for their industry. A quick, cordial method to find common ground (if any) or extract details enough to build a full conversation.
The problem? These questions assume that work or geographical heritage define a person’s individuality. While some levels of personality and culture can be inferred, there is so much more to a person than his or her job or hometown. Furthermore, with jobs being the core topic (because jobs are more current and relevant than where you grew up), conversations tend to become networking events. Work sneaks out of the office and slips into your Saturday night cocktail.
I cannot argue the value of building professional relationships, but oftentimes adults forget that it is important to have other types of relationships as well. I find it extremely difficult to meet new people in Los Angeles. Worse, I find it impossible to develop relationships with people outside the film industry. I blame a lot of it on these icebreaker questions. “Oh, we’re not in the same industry? We cannot work together, so, I guess … have a good night!? Nevermind that there are so many other levels we can connect on!”
My best friends here can carry on conversations about things other than work and the movies. Makes a big difference when you’ve been on film sets all day and need a mental break. And it makes a big difference when you need to feel like a human being, rather than a workaholic robot. Science, discovery, politics, love, perspective, health, the world, philosophy … the list is endless.
Every conversation does not need to be a networking event. Try to steer your meet and greets away from conventional topics. Pay close attention to people who bring more to the table than their resume.
I have eight Facebook friends that no longer post anymore because, well, they can’t. These friends have passed away. I find myself randomly checking up on these profiles now and then, and what I find always surprises me: a steady stream of fresh comments. Some of these profiles get more activity than the profiles of living friends.
Despite my irreverent post title, Facebook may be one of the greatest platforms to date for personal memorial. Like a gravestone of the future, Facebook is a place where people can publicly or anonymously reach out to, browse memories of, and spend time with loved ones that have passed. Some have left a thorough canon of updates and images for us to reflect and enjoy. Private messages to the deceased can really help bereaved friends clear their hearts and heads. In a world that hardly prays anymore, Facebook may be the next best thing.
I consider very few people “worthless.” Almost everyone has a redeeming quality. Many less-sociable acquaintances are quick to judge others and shut the door. I don’t think that’s fair or reasonable. No, I’m not saying you need to be friends with everyone. Hell no. But don’t throw out fools just because you can’t appreciate foreign personalities.
I make a casual mental effort to divide people into two groups:
People I like.
People I respect.
The “likes” tend to carry genuine personalities I can connect with. These individuals become friends. The “respects” have notable skills or chapters of knowledge I admire. These individuals find a place in the business rolodex.
Most people I meet fall into one category or another. I respect a large number of professionals, but never plan to break bread with them. They sit on my contacts list anyway.
The true keepers fall into both lists. These are the people with whom you build projects, share ideas, explore the world, socialize, dine and spend the rest of your life.
Woe to those who fall on neither list.
On a flight to Denver this morning to see family and friends for a long weekend. Home.
How do you define “home?” A residence? Memories? Family? Friends? Your job?
Home is where the heart is. Love and cherish it.
The family you choose, the passions you follow, the place you always long to return to. But if the place you reside does not allow your dearest relationships to be near, enable the pursuit of your dreams, or warm your heart upon return, then can you truly call it home? Why are you living there? Go home. Or find another.
To complicate matters, you can never truly appreciate home until you leave it.