My short bio: In November of 2015, I started a mission to spend 1 hour, 1:1, with 10,000 different people to learn about their lives and see what comes of opening doors for no particular reason. Since then, I took my project full-time in July of 2016 (after being laid off from my job), have met over 2,100 people (documenting their stories on my Instagram, @robs10kfriends), have driven across the United States 3 different times, and have learned a lot about myself and the people around me. Happy to share some of those lessons with you today!

My Proof: https://twitter.com/robs10kfriends/status/1037202837095243776

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/robs10kfriends/

EDIT: Thanks everyone for your questions so far! I'm hopping off for a bit to go meet some new people, but will answer any other questions this evening once I get home!

EDIT 2: It's been real y'all! Thanks everyone so much for your questions and look forward to doing one of these again in the future!

Comments: 57 • Responses: 28  • Date: 

[deleted]19 karma

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robs10kfriends27 karma

Thanks! I met a man named Chris (#1300 on my page) in Oct 2017 who I think about a lot. When he was 16, he was living in Romania and flew to NYC to go boating on the Hudson with some friends. He fell off the boat and got run over by it, causing his legs to be sucked up into the engines. He described it as if his legs had been put into a blender. He lost 5 of 6 liters of blood on the way to the hospital and was give a 12% chance of ever walking again and a 15% chance of living. He beat both odds and we spent our hour together walking around the streets of Philly :). Really makes me think about what's a problem vs. what's an inconvenience in life so I'm thankful for that perspective.

I'm currently in LA until Oct 15th and then driving back to the east coast to spend Nov & Dec in Philly (where I'm from) before hopefully taking the project abroad in 2019!

jetsdude11 karma

do you find that for the most part almost everyone wants the same basic things? I used to work in an airport interacting with hundreds of people from around the world every day. I'd hear tonnes of interesting stories but it seemed like all of us really didn't have a whole lot of free will. Felt very Matrix by the end.

robs10kfriends9 karma

A lot of the people I've talked to say that their ultimate goal is just to help other people so I think a lot of us have a desire to help or make a positive impact on the world. I think sometimes we can be inefficient about how we want to help (i.e. two people wanting to start two different nonprofits to solve the same issue) because we're not always aware of each other's initiative, but in general the desire to do so has been a big theme.

Beyond that, I think we all just want to feel connected and accepted. I've come to realize that we all have insecurities and fears and I think we rely on each other or our close friends to get past those things!

seekingdiscomfort9 karma

Hey Rob! I found you through an Yes Theory post on Instagram, and I'm loving your project.

Do you follow a schedule to meet people (like I want to meet at least x persons this week, so I can achieve 3000 by December) ?

Also, do you think doing that project improved your social skills? Like being a good listener for example?

robs10kfriends6 karma

Awesome! They were a huge help in exposing my project to a new group of amazing people! I try to meet 4 people per day during the weekdays (in LA my schedule is noon, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm) and then a couple of people here and there on the weekends. I don't really set goals by dates though because I'm just enjoying the ride and have learned that sometimes the project moves at its own pace.

And definitely! Though I write stories about everyone I meet, I never take notes or anything like that so I have to make sure I'm listening to everything they tell me, otherwise I won't have any material to write about. Nowadays, my mind just naturally pays attention more and listens without as much effort as it took in the early days so I appreciate my body for making that adjustment. I've also built up a pretty solid library of topics to choose from for keeping a conversation afloat, which has been helpful both in and out of the project!

WhatAboutDubs5 karma

As someone who could use some help in the social skills department, what's five or so solid topics that i can use?

robs10kfriends9 karma

So I always like to think about people's lives as a movie. I'm always curious about where people were, where they are now, the in-between of how they got there and where they want to go. More specifically this plays out in me asking questions like:

  1. Where are you originally from? If it's a different city, you can ask why they moved there. If it's the same city, you can ask if they've ever left.
  2. Did you go to college after high school? If so, what did you study and why? If not, what did you do after graduation?
  3. What's your family like? Do you have siblings? If so, are you close with them?
  4. What, if any, overarching goals are you working towards in life?
  5. What are some of your passions or hobbies outside of work?

And then of course, there are the topics of favorite music, foods, movies, Netflix shows, etc.

Also, these may be helpful resources for you as they're both aimed at helping people create deeper authentic connections: 1. https://www.instagram.com/socards/ 2. http://www.makebigtalk.com/play-the-question-card-game/

Hope this helps!

robs10kfriends3 karma

So I always like to think about people's lives as a movie. I'm always curious about where people were, where they are now, the in-between of how they got there and where they want to go. More specifically this plays out in me asking questions like:

  1. Where are you originally from? If it's a different city, you can ask why they moved there. If it's the same city, you can ask if they've ever left.
  2. Did you go to college after high school? If so, what did you study and why? If not, what did you do after graduation?
  3. What's your family like? Do you have siblings? If so, are you close with them?
  4. What, if any, overarching goals are you working towards in life?
  5. What are some of your passions or hobbies outside of work?

And then of course, there are the topics of favorite music, foods, movies, Netflix shows, etc.

Also, these may be helpful resources for you as they're both aimed at helping people create deeper authentic connections: 1. https://www.instagram.com/socards/ 2. http://www.makebigtalk.com/play-the-question-card-game/

Hope this helps!

WheresTheTabasco9 karma

That’s amazing! When do you expect to have 10.000 friends?

robs10kfriends6 karma

This November will mark 3 years since I started the project, but with my plans to travel and meet people from countries/cities across the world, I think it's going to take about 10 more years! And I'm ok with that!

sloopy_sails8 karma

Do you want to go sailing?

robs10kfriends5 karma

Yes, I'd love to go sailing!

sloopy_sails7 karma

Ok when you do north Dallas give me a shout. I'm on a small reservoir lake called Lavon. I'm happy to make a single serving friend. And also always happy to sail year round here, most of the time.

robs10kfriends6 karma

That would be awesome! I will let you know next time I'm in the area!

Sweatsuit_Tony6 karma

what, if anything, would you say that every person has in common?

robs10kfriends12 karma

None of us know what we're doing in life. We're all just doing the best we can with the resources we have available to us. I think a lot of people operate with the mindset that "everyone but me has their life together" when in reality it should be "no one, including me, has their life together and that's ok." Understanding this has made me a much more confident and less stressed person.

AzraeLXIX6 karma

How did you get the 10,000 people and how do you coordinate with them? This sounds absolutely fantastic!

robs10kfriends9 karma

In the beginning, I just emailed random people or DM'ed creative people on Instagram asking if they'd want to be 1 of the first 10 people of this idea that I had. Luckily, some people early on thought it was a cool idea and agreed to sit down with me. After I met 8 people, I put our pics and their stories on Instagram. I'd then reach out to anyone who liked any of my photos or started following me asking if they'd join. 65 people into the project I got my first piece of press coverage which helped people learn about the project and since then it's been a mix of press here and there and people resharing our photos on their Instagrams, which has always led to their friends wanting to meet up! Now, I have a constant flow of DM's on my Instagram account that always keeps me busy with new people to meet! And thanks so much! :)

AzraeLXIX6 karma

If you don't mind, I'd like to know if there were any uncomfortable or dull situations. Not asking what happened, just if there were any.

robs10kfriends5 karma

I've never really had an uncomfortable situation, but there have definitely been dull moments. Sometimes it can feel like I'm asking questions to just fill an hour and getting one word replies, but I've learned that some of the people who meet with me are typically shy or socially anxious and want to use our hour together as a way of pushing themselves outside of their comfort zones. I think that's awesome so I try to make it as enjoyable of a conversation as possible for everyone I meet! I also at this point feel like I could talk to a wall for an hour because I have a lot of directions I could take a conversation to keep people engaged.

AzraeLXIX2 karma

Is conversation the only thing done? I've toyed around with a similar idea in the past, and had thought of doing meeting spots or just things they would like to show me around town. Still hanging out mind you, just not pure conversation (maybe)

robs10kfriends6 karma

I'm usually having conversations with people, but I've also gone surfing with people, have played in their company softball games, have gone on hikes, went flying with a dude in his plane, went to Disneyland with people, etc! It's an interesting balance because activities are fun, but they kind of get in the way of you getting to know each other really well.

When I first started, I thought I would spend an hour with people doing what makes them interesting, but conversations just kind of became a naturally easy way to spend time together!

AzraeLXIX2 karma

Absolutely could understand that and I'm glad to see my idea toying is coming to fruition through you! That's a hella dope story you're building for yourself bud :)

robs10kfriends2 karma

Thank you, I appreciate that! :)

kprl4 karma

ROB! I’ve been following your journey since you met up with Yes Theory and I am loving it. I just wanted to know what it’s like living with such a badass name such as Rob Lawless? keep on meeting people dude 🤘🤘

robs10kfriends4 karma

Thank you! I was blessed to be born with a badass name and it's served me well in life. Whenever people see "Lawless" they always compliment me on it haha. Since I started this project, though, people have started calling me "Rob 10k" which I don't mind either! I do love my actual last name though.

ElegantTotality4 karma

Can I be one of the people you meet?

robs10kfriends8 karma

Of course! Where are you located? Just PM me or DM me on Instagram and we can work it out if we're in the same area!

TotallyWrecked4 karma

Do you have any goals in terms of location and range of countries?

robs10kfriends3 karma

I hope to meet people in countries and cities across the world! I feel like there's so much to learn and I'm just super curious about what it's like to live in all different areas. I'm hoping to expand abroad in 2019 by hopefully taking the project to Great Britain in January if I can work it out.

AnandaUK3 karma

If you make it to Scotland and need somewhere to stay, hit me up. I'm American, originally from Michigan but I moved to Scotland 17 years ago. I live nearish to Glasgow.

robs10kfriends2 karma

That would be awesome, thank you! I've heard great things about Scotland and would love to get there if I make it abroad in Jan! Actually met a girl who lives in Edinburgh who is recreating my project with her own goal to meet 100 new people!

AnandaUK2 karma

Scotland is amazing! Unfortunately Jan isn't really the best time to see it because we don't get a lot of daylight but I can definitely tell you some great places to see, and hook you up with some interesting people if needed. Our upstairs neighbor is 85 and was a professional pianist, he has some really awesome stories, like the time he attended a dinner with Idi Amin.

robs10kfriends2 karma

That's so cool! If I can swing the trip then, I'll let you know! Would definitely be able to use the help!

Torimad214 karma

What is your favorite city that you have been to so far?

robs10kfriends5 karma

I'm originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia and lived in the actual city for the first 2 years of this project so I really love Philly, but I also really liked Nashville when I passed through there on my drive. Being in LA and establishing a network of friends here for about a year has made me fall in love with the weather and creative community of people out here though!

pfelon3 karma

Hi Rob! I follow you on Instagram and I love reading everyone's stories. I'm naturally pretty shy but the past several years I've been making efforts to talk to people in all sorts of situations and I love finding out about everyone's stories and journeys.

My question: do you have an ultimate punctuation in mind for all this? Like a book or an essay or a lecture (Ted talk?) or something encapsulating everything you've learned?

robs10kfriends3 karma

Awesome! Have you found yourself becoming more comfortable with talking to new people the more you do it? I definitely would have a bit of social anxiety towards the beginning of the project, but meeting new people has become really routine for me now, which I'm happy about.

I don't have an end goal in mind because, though it sounds cliché, it's more about the journey than the destination for me. BUT that said, a lot of people have either asked me if I'm going to write a book or have suggested that I do so, so I can see that being a byproduct of the project down the road once I naturally meet the right people to make it happen. I also think a TED talk would be a great opportunity to share what I've learned (I think I still have a lot to learn before I reach that point) and would be happy to do one in the future, but it's not something that I'm actively working towards. Appreciate you following along with the journey!

jakestein3 karma

This is awesome. Have you gotten to the point where you can support yourself off of sponsorships alone?

robs10kfriends2 karma

Thanks Jake! I'm currently living off of sponsorships (right now I'm partnered with a networking app called Shapr - https://shapr.onelink.me/3806145626/9db4398e - which has been great so far) and am beginning to talk to tourism boards about the possibility of using my project as a way of highlighting people/places in cities around the country/world. I live a very very simple lifestyle and am fortunate to have family/friends who are willing to host me in Philly/LA while I continue to get things off the ground, but the future looks bright!

Going forward, I think sustaining myself will be a mix of partnerships and speaking about my experience of the project in locations where human connection is available and encouraged (e.g. college campuses, high schools, etc.)!

smcavinney3 karma

Hey Rob, what's going on? When are you in Philly again?

robs10kfriends1 karma

Hey man! Miss you and hope all is well back home! I'll be back at the end of October and planning to stay in the area until the beginning of January.

garrygra2 karma

If you're ever in Glasgow or Ireland hit me up!

Haha - would you say that your opinion on the diversity of human experience? In the sense of our similarities and how we respond to things? Obviously we're far more the same than we are different but as someone who has experienced so many different people - what are the big areas you find people differ?

robs10kfriends3 karma

Definitely will do! Hoping to be in your area in early 2019! I'd say emotionally we're all shooting for the same things of wanting to be accepted, wanting to help others, and wanting to reach our goals.

I've seen a lot of differences, though, in the opportunities or resources people have been afforded. I'm extremely fortunate to come from a family where my parents are still together, my siblings are doing well and we all have good relationships with each other. Though I took out student loans, I was able to go to college without having to work a part-time job in addition to my classes every day. I've met multiple people in their 20s who have lost both of their parents already, I've met people who had to drop out of college because they needed to work to help their parents pay rent, I've people who didn't have their first pair of shoes until they were 8 years old.

I think I've just learned that the spectrum of the human experience is much wider than I had originally known or anticipated based on the sole perspective of my own life path. Meeting so many different people has opened my eyes to the fact that there are just so many different paths a person's life could take and has allowed me to be grateful for the things/opportunities I've been afforded in my own life!

butterbal12 karma

You have a mighty interesting project here, how can I become part of it?

I am out in Phoenix AZ.

robs10kfriends1 karma

Thank you! I’m actually potentially going to visit Phoenix to meet people there for a week or so and will let you know if that’s the case! I’d love to meet!

WheresTheTabasco2 karma

Did you ever want to spend more than an hour with someone and did you? I’ve been following you for quite a while now, the stories are inspiring. Thank you :)

robs10kfriends3 karma

Ahh thank you! Glad to hear you've been following along :). There are definitely people who I've wanted to spend more than an hour with. I keep a pretty tight schedule (I try to meet 4 people per day) so I'm usually not able to do so at the time we meet, but I've met people who have turned into friends that I've gone surfing with, out to parties with, to festivals with etc.

It's an interesting balance because I have a really good group of college / high school friends that I like to spend my free time with, but if ever I'm able to, I'll meet up with people again. I also run into a lot of people just out and about, which has been cool. I've run into people in the airport, just walking around the city and even while driving next to each other on the roads.

[deleted]2 karma

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robs10kfriends2 karma

I can't say I've ever given one and actually I received one in high school when I was a freshman :(. We're on to bigger and better times now though :).

ams2212 karma

Woow, first of all..that's amazing :) .. how much has your definition of "normal" has changed since your started? And how?

robs10kfriends3 karma

Thank you! I'm not sure if I had a definition of "normal" prior to starting, but I've definitely learned to take a different approach to learning about people. I think beforehand, I'd try to talk about topics that I assumed the people I was meeting would like, but I've often times been surprised by people's choices in music or their backstories in general. Nowadays, I do my best to sit back and let them explain who they are before I try to make any assumptions on my own.

uwtears1 karma

Have you ever spent over (or under) an hour with someone?

robs10kfriends2 karma

Most of the time I'm spending at least an hour with someone. There are only a few people who I've met with that have cut out before the hour was over (like one time I met with a college student who showed up a little late and had to cut out for class). I'm typically on a tight schedule because I leave an hour in between each meeting to write and post people's stories, but if I have the time and nothing pressing to get to, I'll hang around with people!