200 Coffees

Recently, I had the rare opportunity to have a couple of months without a regular full-time job.

The common thing to do with a break like that is to travel. I considered doing a round the world tour. But with Starbucks in 65 countries now, the world is flatter than ever, and it didn’t feel like I would learn that much.

Instead I decided to stay in San Francisco and spend the time working on projects and reconnecting with people. Over the nine years I’ve lived here, I’ve met a lot of incredible people. I’ve generally not done a great job of keeping in touch with them. I was focused on building a company, and staying in touch with people for its own sake never got priority.

Now I had an opportunity to change that. So I sat down and made a list of people to “get coffee” with. It had hundreds of names. It was a little intimidating, so I prioritized them. For each person, I made a list of the things I wanted to ask them and the things I thought I might be able to help them with.

Two months later, I’ve gotten coffee with over 200 people. I say get coffee metaphorically. Sometimes we’d go for a walk, or out to dinner. A couple of people I met at museums, which is a fun way to talk.

One of the cool side effects is the number of cross connections I was able to make. A surprising number of those people turned out to be the answer to what someone else was looking for. Also surprising was how open very busy people were to having a meeting without a clear agenda, just as long as they didn’t have to think of proposing it.

A six year study of middle aged men showed that having more friends was the most powerful predictor of having a long life, more important than not smoking or getting exercise. We don’t fully understand why, but connections are important.

200 coffees might seem overwhelming. But if you reconnect with just two people / week, by next year you’ll have done it. So take a minute, find a friend you have’t talked to in a while, and drop them a note.

3 thoughts on “200 Coffees

  1. Jim Grey

    Sounds remarkably like my summer. I was between gigs and spent the time catching up with people I’ve enjoyed working with, and being introduced to others around town in the startup/software-dev world. I had two, three, four coffees, lunches, or drinks a day. Hard work for the introvert but still a lot of fun. I even fell backwards into a short-term, part-time consulting gig doing it; right guy in the right place at the right time. But I didn’t know about the link to longevity for middle-aged men. I’m 48 and that matters to me!

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  2. Pingback: Recommended reading | Down the Road

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