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I met Rob after hearing about his captivating story on a podcast.
He had embarked on a journey to meet 10 000 people and was staying in Long Beach and swinging by LA pretty often. Great timing.
We decided to meet up in a coffee place and chat, I was number 1900 on his list. When I arrived, he had an enormous smile and sparkly eyes, as if we had met before.
“I was raised in a tight knit family in Norristown, Pennsylvania, right outside Philly. It’s a small town where everyone knows everyone. I also had a great group of friends in college, so I’ve always enjoyed human connections. Therefore, when I started traveling, it was missing having friendly faces around.
I thought: 'how fun would it be if I knew people everywhere I’d go? Having a place to stay at, someone to show me around, or just be able to walk around and saying hi to people on the street. Feeling home. Feeling connected?'
So I decided to expand my circle of friends. I set the goal of meeting 10 000 people for an hour each, to get to know them. I started 3 years ago, back when I was still working full-time. I’d meet strangers in the evenings and on the weekends”.
I asked why he was so enticed to meeting strangers when other people had rather maintaining a close circle of friends, focusing on tight bonds rather than quantity.
“I think it's difficult to create a set definition for friendship because there are different levels of friendship. For the purpose of my project, I simply define it as treating each other like old pals for the hour that we're together and leaving the door open to become better friends in the future.
I spend an hour one-o-one quality conversation getting to know them, not preparing anything, not following a guideline, not asking pre-determined questions. I like the concept of being surprised by people’s personalities and lifestyles.
I try and maintain bounds with all of them and naturally relationships can evolve into closer friends, business or even romantic relationships, who knows! I leave it to faith and go with the flow”.
I asked if he had any plans on monetizing his project.
“I do not set any expectation nor have a strategy for the moment. I just want to spend genuine quality time with people and see where it leads. I am confident that this project will keep expanding and that I’ll be able to start traveling and do this for a living within a couple months.
I trust that things will work out because I know that I am on the right path. I’m not worried for the future, I stay positive as I know there’s always a solution to anything.
In fact, the motto I live by is: 'the end is never this end'”.