I’m happy to share my interview David Topus, author of Talk to Strangers; How Everyday, Random Encounters Can Expand Your Business, Career, Income and Life (John Wiley and Sons, 2012), a surprising look at how opening yourself up to strangers can help change your life. David’s interview on NBC can be viewed here and in the BBC here
Diana: In what ways has talking to strangers enhanced your life?
David: Over the years I have met hundreds of interesting people, many of whom I would never have come to know if I hadn’t opened myself up to the possibility. I begin every encounter with the assumption that the other person is fascinating and unique, and that there is something I can learn from them. Because I believe this, it tends to be true. I have garnered clients, contacts, investors, partners, employees and friends through people I’ve met in the most unplanned, random places and ways.
The number and variety of people I have met — and developed relationships with, both professional and personal — is nothing short of remarkable. I sometimes shake my head in amazement at how people seem to show up in my life. Sometimes I even wonder if these encounters are truly “random”, or if they are predestined. I think the universe puts certain people in our path, but it is really up to us to take advantage of the opportunity to meet them. In my book, I outline the four beliefs of successful random connectors. One of them has to do with the world being a friendly place, and another is about being socially fearless, believing you can meet anyone you want to meet. When you believe this, somehow the universe puts people — amazing people — in your path.
Diana: What do you do each day to take care of yourself?
David: I make a point of getting a good night’s sleep, and I ride a bicycle 12 miles up and down hills every other day….I have met people while riding the bike; people I have stayed in touch with and been enriched by personally.
Diana: Does reaching out and connecting with strangers have any benefits beyond the monetary or business ones, for example, on your mental or emotional well being?
David: Actually, yes. When I open up to others, especially those who wouldn’t typically talk to people they don’t know, and when I create a level of comfort and trust that makes it possible for them to open up to me, I feel a great sense of accomplishment. I feel I have helped someone else break through the veneer of isolation that they — and so many people — are likely to have. Most people WANT to make new connection, but they either don’t know how, or don’t have the confidence.
I like to think that if I give them a good experience in meeting a “stranger”, they might be more likely to give it a try on their own. Beyond that, I am encouraged and exhilarated by the commonality of human experience I often bring out in my conversations, and I get tremendous energy from meeting complete strangers and finding this common ground that makes us both human.
Diana: David, Thank you!
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