Don’t Listen to Your Mother On This One: Talk to Strangers

David Topus, Author

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!

Click LIKE if you agree about talking to strangers and COMMENT if you don’t. And please share any encounters with strangers that you’ve had!


About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is the author of several books, including The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker), shortlisted for a National Jewish Book Award. Her novel, A Remarkable Kindness, (HarperCollins) was published in 2015. She is the First Prize Winner of Moment Magazine's 2019 Fiction Contest. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, Glamour, The Forward, The North American Review, Times of Israel, and is a reporter for Israel21C, and many other publications. She is author of Big Up Yourself: It's About Time You Like Being You and The Mom Who Took off On Her Motorcycle, a memoir of her 10,000-mile motorcycle trip to Alaska and back to New York. She lives in a small beach village in Western Galilee, Israel, with her husband and family. She is a member of the local hevra kadisha, the burial circle, and a Muslim-Jewish-Christian-Druze women's group in the nearby town of Akko. And, she likes snowboarding and climbing trees.
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7 Responses to Don’t Listen to Your Mother On This One: Talk to Strangers

  1. Erin says:

    I like what you wrote about being open and talking to new people. I could not find a ‘like’ button so I thought I’d comment.

  2. Sharon says:

    I also like the book’s premise and am commenting because I had trouble with the “like.” It’s a great way to learn new things and encounter new ideas. Thanks for introducing me to another interesting book and idea.

  3. I whole heartedly agree! I talk with strangers all the time – on the bus or train in Jerusalem, walking through the Old City, in shops, restaurants, at special sites around the country, etc. – and I’ve met some amazing (and some not-so-amazing) people – many have become clients, colleagues, friends… I often say that if I stay in Jerusalem long enough (and am open to talking with strangers), I’ll eventually meet everyone in the world… With the variety of people I’ve already met, I think I’m well on my way to that!

  4. awais says:

    i really like yr comments and really i enjoy it. hahahha very nice i live in pakistan and thats all diffrent for us hahha

  5. Cynthia says:

    Inspiration for me to continue my many a day acts of kindness to total strangers….

    • dianabletter says:

      I’m inspired by your random acts of kindness to total strangers! What’s harder for me is random acts of kindness to myself! Thanks for writing!

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