Bringing People Together

I left Los Angeles because it was too difficult to get around and randomly run into people. When your world is not colliding with the worlds of others, it’s exceedingly difficult to coordinate, collaborate, and compete. If you want to accomplish a lot in this lifetime, it makes a big difference living in an environment where you can always find someone to share ideas with. If you are not in that environment, then you need to consider leaving or find a way to build that environment where you’re at. Many groups in San Francisco and New York have taken the coffee shop to the next level by organizing co-working spaces where like-minded thinkers gather at their own pace and immerse themselves in the productivity of mutual togetherness. Surround yourself with people. It makes a huge difference – not only for your productivity, but also for your social and spiritual life.

At every opportunity, sound the horn and bring people together. Throw a party, call a conference, organize a lunch – whatever it takes. Host an event, get people in the door, and thrive.

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Get Out of There

In a meeting you have no stake in? A social setting you cannot connect with? Around people you do not relate to? In a place that disagrees with your lifestyle? A job that fails to inspire you? Then get the hell out of there. Don’t waste time. Time is money (and more valuable than money). Walk out. Pack your bags. Just go. You have an important family obligation. Impending deadline. Death on the horizon. Get out. Move on. Be as polite as possible, but leave. Think of the things you could be doing instead – and go do them. The impact you can make on the world and your own life while doing those other things far outweighs the egos you rub sitting still. Looking back, those offended meeting attendees will understand and forgive you for it.

How America Can Reclaim First Place

American FlagsCan you imagine traveling six days by horse in a blizzard to hang out with peers and talk politics? Can you imagine waking up to a trumpet, grabbing your gun and running outside to join other armed neighbors to defend your cul-de-sac? Can you imagine hiding in your basement with friends for fear of your life and plotting a bloody revolution? These activities were commonplace 250 years ago at the birth of our nation. Early Americans went to great lengths to come together, stand as one, and protect our freedoms. The value of togetherness networked local communities, rallied the majority against common enemies, and united the colonies.

Somewhere between the Cold War and postdevelopment, Americans lost site of that camaraderie. We lost site of togetherness. Back then, the freedom to assemble was a huge deal – so important that it topped the list of our constitutional amendments. Today, I see a lot of ambition and very little group collaboration. Few people stand collectively behind anything except brands and religion (and even those groups are fading).

We need to come together again. We need to debate again. We need to start a cultural revolution again. And like all great movements in history, the era of neo-togetherness starts small: spend more time with friends. Spend time discussing how you think the world should look. Spend time making suggestions and outlining solutions. And if you are brave enough, spend time tackling those solutions together.

Our great country evolved through community. Only a strong community can keep it alive.

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The Difference Between Liking and Respecting

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.

The 90-Minute Rule

Coffee

90 minutes is the optimal duration for achieving certain types of immersion: social, narrative, health, entertainment, and more. Any shorter than 90 minutes, you cannot cover all the bases. Any longer, the brain may lose focus.

Generally, I set aside 90 minutes for coffee or meal get-togethers and tend to hit that mark without keeping track of time. All of the bases have been covered and the situation has turned cognitively stale. 

While being a conceptual and social theory, the 90-minute rule may be naturally linked to the circadian rhythm of our bodies (a sleep cycle lasts roughly 90 minutes, for example).

I have found the following to be most effective when conformed to a 90-minute window of time:

  • Revisiting with an old friend
  • Business meetings
  • Brainstorming sessions
  • Feature films
  • Home dining experiences
  • Concerts
  • Board games

With enough arcs and nuances to an activity, the 90-minute rule can be broken and expanded to achieve longer sustained immersion. Hikes, conventions, recreational sports, and several forms of entertainment can all present enough twists and turns to keep you invested longer than 90 minutes. The average duration of my ten favorite films, for example, is 131 minutes. Rich and fulfilling content or activities can transcend time (and your day calendar).

Can you think of any other activities that fit a 90-minute profile?

The Curse of a Twenty-Something

You graduated college. Time for the real world. The bills, the loans, the career, and perhaps even children. Life gets difficult, responsibility escalates. You need help now more than ever. But wait – where did all my friends go?

Being twenty-something can be a very lonely experience. Why? All of your peers are preoccupied with the real world, too. They are all busy reconciling jobs, covering the bases, relocating, soul-searching, starting families, and planning for futures yet unseen. You are not alone. But you are alone.

Some adults never recover. They never find a social life again. The burdens of adulthood consume and defeat an otherwise fruitful, interpersonal existence.

That does not have to be your fate. All twenty-somethings suffer relatable woes. Why not help each other? Revisit an old relationship once every day. Rebuild your support group. Make a habit of staying in touch weekly. Get out of the house at least two weeknights every week. Get out of your own head as often as possible. If it is too difficult to meet new friends, re-meeting old friends can be much easier. You do not have to be alone. But only you can take action; do not wait to be called.

Pick up the damn phone.