The Nomadic Executive with Omar Mo - 
TNE047
Hosted by Omar Mo

A Man on a Mission to Make 10,000 Friends With Rob Lawless @robs10kfriends

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From Zach King in Yes Theory to incredible individuals from unique cultures all around the world, our guest today has made 3,974 friends at the time of editing this episode. I was friend number 3,942.

    We're joined by Rob Lawless from @robs10kfriends on Instagram. Rob has been on a mission to speak with 10,000 people for an hour each. Having graduated summa cum laude from Penn State, Rob landed a well-paid corporate job right after college. Through a series of events and some serendipity, however, he eventually went all in on his passion project of making 10,000 friends. Since then, he's been sponsored by multiple businesses including WeWork, and has made it his full-time job.


Today's Guest

Rob Lawless

Back in May of 2013, Rob graduated summa cum laude from Penn State University with a degree in Finance and minors in Accounting & Entrepreneurship. After graduation, he went through working a corporate consulting job and working at a venture funded start up.

However, once that startup was acquired by another company, Rob left and decided to go all in on his project to meet 10,000 people.

Since then, he's met 4,000+ people from over 60 countries and 35 US States. He's driven across the country six times and also has been featured by some awesome press sources, including Ryan Seacrest on his nationally syndicated radio show, “On Air with Ryan Seacrest,” as well as “Your Morning,” a national Canadian morning show and the TODAY Show with Hoda and Jenna! He also got the chance to appear as a guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show alongside Jane Lynch and Jo Koy where the audience was made up of ~100 friends from the project.

Show Notes

09:30- How Rob Lawless manages his time to converse with thousands of new friends.

14:21- Special quality of someone who has been able to converse with a lot of people.

24:12 – An interesting flashlight illustration on looking for opportunities as a new entrepreneur.

27:33- The FORD methodology of carrying a conversation.

28:55- How to realize your ideas through proof of concept.

40:50- On.what people regret most in their deathbed and what matters most in life.

50:50- Thoughts on world peace and world empathy.

Transcript

A Man on a Mission to Make 10,000 Friends With @robs10kfriends | TNE047 TRANSCRIPT

Host: Omar Mo

Guest: Rob Lawless

Intro-

10,000 friends. That's someone new to hang out with every single day for the next 27.4 years. That's exactly the endeavor that one man decided to embark on. 

From Zach King in Yes Theory to incredible individuals from unique cultures all around the world, our guest today has made 3,974 friends at the time of editing this episode. I was friend number 3,942. 

We're joined by Rob Lawless from @robs10kfriends on Instagram. Rob has been on a mission to speak with 10,000 people for an hour each. Having graduated summa cum laude from Penn State, Rob landed a well-paid corporate job right after college. Through a series of events and some serendipity, however, he eventually went all in on his passion project of making 10,000 friends. Since then, he's been sponsored by multiple businesses including WeWork, and has made it his full-time job.

Join us today, Nomad fam, for this incredibly inspiring story of men aiming to revitalize human connection in our socially distanced world. 

Now before we get started here, I'd like to give a shout out to a review we recently got. Amanda5254gymgi says, “Best of its type. A great host consistently brings in a great variety of guests and manages to get interesting experiences and stories out of them. Highly recommended for anyone looking to travel post covid or anyone with an entrepreneurial bent.” Thanks for the kind words, Amanda.

And to you my Nomad fam, I'd like to remind you to please leave a rating or a review. Every review helps this podcast become more visible to people who just may need that spark of inspiration to take the first leap. And of course, I'll be sure to give you a shout out on a future episode.

Now without further ado, my name’s Omar Mo and this is The Nomadic Executive. Here we go. 

You're listening to The Nomadic Executive hosted by Omar from nomadables.com. Join Omar as he sits down and speaks with leading online entrepreneurs, remote workers and digital nomads about everything from business strategy to travel and lifestyle design. Together, we're here to help you achieve a life of happiness, health and freedom. And now here's your host, Omar Mo.

Omar:

Why don’t we just go ahead and get started. I don't know how many of these you're doing a day. Probably a lot, huh?

Rob:

Yeah. I try to meet four people every day. The weekends, like weekends, I'm usually off but I-- last weekend, like I did, I met with a girl. Similar thing. We like did her podcast and then chatted for a bit afterwards. And then, like, you this weekend. So yeah. Weekends are kind of like my administrative stuff, if you will, because it's like scheduling the times with everyone. I'm trying to put together like a training course to help people talk about themselves in a better way and to learn about other people. 

Omar:

I saw that. That's what I was hoping you'd actually come on to because I kind of wanted to help you push that. I think it's super interesting what you're doing. And like just yesterday, right, so I start podcast for other businesses, that's kind of like a part of what I do. And I was helping this business called iKids, which is basically childcare for kids but educational and enriching. So, I was helping them start a podcast yesterday and the host that they picked to be on the podcast, she was just so nervous, you know. She didn't know how to talk to random people. She was just there. She kind of like, she made it through and she did better than I thought she would but at the end of the ten minutes, she was like, I rushed it. Like, I felt so jittery, blah, blah blah. So, I had to give her like almost like a socialization course for an hour, you know what I mean? And I think what you're doing is something similar to that and I think it's really important for people to do that. 

Rob:

Oh yeah. I agree. I have seen-- my mindset towards it is like, in life, we're just not presented with a lot of opportunities to practice sharing our story but when we do have to share our story, it's really important. Like you're doing it in the context of a first date, or an interview, or developing client relationship. 

And so, when I talk to people sometimes, I can tell that they'll get-- like if I ask them, so what do you like to do outside of work? Then they'll start to, they'll get paralyzed because they're like, okay, what do I do that's interesting? I don't want to just say whatever. But in my mind, I'm like I'm not trying to find out why you're interesting, I'm trying to find out how you spend your time and I don't care if that's you watching Jeopardy or if it's you building a spaceship. Like, to me, it doesn't matter. I'm just trying to get to know who you are. And so, like helping people understand that you just need to tell people how you spend your time and if it's simple, people will still find that interesting because it's helping them know who you are better. 

Omar:

You come from a place of like no judgment. 

Rob:

Right. 

Omar:

Which I guess helps people lower their guard and kind of-- because I have watched a few of your, quite a few actually of your-- and how many is it now? Like 3,007, somewhere--?

Rob: 

I think 3,945 or something like that, 44--

Omar:

That is a lot of interviews. And I've gone down that rabbit hole of going down to Instagram and watching quite a few and I've noticed how diverse— one, diverse the stories are and two, how you've always come from a place of non-judgment, you know? Like every story is slightly different. Even if there's people that are quite like a little bit similar that come on there, no two people have been exactly the same. And that's something that's so fascinating to me about being, I guess, in this line of work in general, right. Podcasting, interviews, all that. 

And the second thing that was interesting is that even though person A might have like the coolest thing in my opinion, and Person B might have the most boring thing in my opinion, you still interviewed and treated them the exact same and I thought that was awesome as well.

Rob:

Yeah. I have no, because I don't know who people are before I meet them. I don't know what the stories are going to be and I always say-- it's funny I don't think sent it to you but I have a post that I sent to everyone before I meet them and it's, “PSA I'm not interviewing people.” And so, it's like, because people see me write about them and they build it up in their mind of like, okay, this guy's going to ask me a bunch of questions. I need to be prepared. Blah blah blah. But I'm like no, this is a two-way conversation. You should get to know me as much as I know you. Like we're not meeting for me to write a cool story about you. We're meeting so that the next time we see each other, we know each other as friends rather than strangers. And yeah, that, I think, has allowed people to be more comfortable because then they're like, okay, I don't I don't have to be a certain way. This isn't going any certain way.

Omar:

Absolutely.

Rob:

Yeah, people are so interesting. Like I said, I just don't know what people stor—sometimes, the people that I meet with, their Instagram profiles are private so-- and I do try to, especially now, because I used to meet everyone in person. I met 3,259 people.

Omar:

That’s nuts, dude. How'd you manage that?

Rob:

Just good time management, I think, in scheduling. I started the project in Philly and then it existed in LA for a year and three months and then New York City for nine months. I was living in Hoboken at the time. But yeah. Like, I would get to these areas because I had friends in LA and Hoboken that I was able to stay with. And so, I would just build up the momentum there and eventually, enough people would see it through friends posting about it or they would like-- yeah, just build up the momentum and then I would be able to start to schedule multiple people in the same location.

But it's still the—the structure was the same. Always like an hour on, an hour off and then in every-- So, for example, now I meet people at 9am, 11am, 1pm and 3pm. So then at 10, noon, 2 and 4, I'm writing about them and posting. So, when I meet someone from 9 to 10 AM, their story is up and posted before I meet the 11 AM person. 

And it was the same way when I was doing things in person. I would just meet, write. And I didn't have any recordings or everything at that time, so everything that I wrote was just from memory. And so, I got really good at writing people's storylines in my mind as I talk to them so that when I left, I just had to put it out into my notes and post it. 

Omar:

When you would meet them in person, did you record any of it at all?

Rob:

No, nothing was recorded. And actually—what’s that?

Omar:

Just get like a picture of them and then throw it on the storyline. 

Rob:

Yeah. Would have a stranger passing by take a photo of us together.

Omar:

Interesting. 

Rob:

Yeah. 

Omar:

And you would you would limit that to like one hour spent with them and then you'd be like, hey, see ya.

Rob:

One hour, yeah, because I had to. It was like a domino effect. So, if I met the first person for an hour and fifteen minutes, then I didn't have enough time to write about their story and like, then I might be late for the second meeting and then it just kind of spills over. So, yeah. It's kind of weird because it is so laid back and lacks and very informal when I'm chatting with people. But then I do have to, in the background, be conscious of the time just so that I'm making sure I'm not screwing myself for the other people that I meet. Like it's--

Omar:

I get that.

Rob:

Like you still have to treat it like a logistics process to get to 10,000 and that is something that I'm just conscious of. 

Omar:

Yeah. I mean, if you started kind of spreading it out and just doing one daily, then you’re going to be taking the next 10, 20 years. I don't know how many years that would be but a very long time finishing that project. 

Rob:

Yeah, a long time. 

Omar:

How long have you been doing it already now? I don't want to do the math in my head. 

Rob:

I started the first person I met was November 11th of 2015, so five years. And then, I was at the time working in tech sales and eight months later, the company that I worked for was bought out, so I was laid off. At that point, I had met 109 people and I decided to jump into this full time. So that was July of 2016 and I have been full time meeting people ever since. 

Like, I haven't worked for anyone else, haven't done anything. I've survived off of crashing with friends and family and then taking on brand partnerships as the project has grown. And it's still like, I'm talking to you from my childhood bedroom, I live with my parents. I have moved out, thanks to the friends hosting me, but I couldn't afford to move out if I wanted to. But that is part of like the journey of getting to build like your own life instead of relying on a corporate company or something like that.

And going forward, I'm planning to do the training things and to get into public speaking, so I have a Toastmasters meeting on Monday.

Omar:

Is that your first [inaudible 12:35]?

Rob:

I did. I started to go to once in Hoboken right before the pandemic started. Have you been to one before?

Omar:

I've been meaning to but I have like the biggest fear of public speaking. So, it’s the one that I do want to conquer, though. So as soon as I get some time away from my own business, I'm going to, that's going to be the first thing I’d do. 

Rob:

It's good. You should look up on YouTube. Like Toastmasters World Championship Public Speaking or something like that. Because I have always wanted to be a really charismatic speaker. That's something that I want to work on. And I would see like people giving TED talks and stuff but they weren't exactly, they didn't have like the right, almost like a pastor speaks. Like, pastors are so good at speaking and drawing people in. And when I watched the World Championships, it's these just people delivering like seven-minute speeches but they're so captivating and they were all Toastmasters people. And I was like, okay, I know this exists. I had tried to go to it and then the pandemic started. So now, I'm going to actually go back and be serious about it because I also am set to give a TEDx talk at Emory University in April, so I want to make sure--

Omar:

Congratulations.

Rob:

Thank you. 

Omar:

I'm definitely going to be watching that, man. 

Rob:

Yeah. 

Omar:

It's so interesting. Like, first of all, there's like a million questions I want to ask you and we only have a limited amount of time so I have to pick and choose, you know. But I want to start off by saying you have like this vibe, right. And I've traveled for quite some time and I met a lot of people from a lot of different places and a lot of different backgrounds. And once in a while, you run into a type of person that has spoken to a lot of people and they have a particular quality about them, right. It’s that they're able to stay very present in conversation. Nothing distracts them. They feel very connected to the other person. And just speaking to you right now, I can feel that way. I can feel the vibe through the screen weirdly enough. You stay very present. Everything else seems to kind of melt away in conversation and I think that comes in from putting like your 10,000 hours in into conversation and talking to people and socializing.

So, it's amazing to see that you have that on grasp now, you know? Whereas, I'll have a lot of conversations with a lot of people and most people, most, like 99 percent of people won't have that down. So to me, like just simply speaking to you, and I'm trying to describe my feelings and words here, simply speaking to you, I can feel that. And I'm so appreciative and grateful, you know, to be able to have that with another person.

I've even done this podcast for quite some time. I did maybe like 40, 50 episodes so far and everyone I've had was great, right. Unique, amazing, incredible stories but I can only say there's been one or two people that I had that similar vibe with. You know what I mean?

Rob:

Yeah.

Omar:

So, yeah. I wanted to start off prefacing with that. Okay. Cool. Now moving forward, a question that I had in my mind is that you just told me, I guess, like the basic gist of your story. You like literally went from tech sales and kind of like gave up everything to chase after this 10,000-person project that you've now been doing for five years. Most people like would be like, Okay, I'm not making any money yet, or where's this going, or is this really for my future, you know, maybe should I do something more stable. Like, what was your driving force? Your North Star to keep going and doing what you're doing?

Rob:

Yeah. That's a good question. And I appreciate your feelings about the vibe. I do try to be very present with-- I always tell people, like when I'm talking to them, there's nothing else going on in my mind. It's like a blank slate up there, which is it’s just being filled with the information that they're telling me. So, it's cool that you were able to pick up on that because it's definitely something I tried to do with my conversations. 

But in terms of the North Star, I don't—so, I studied finance at Penn State and I graduated in 2013 and before tech sales, I was doing consulting for Deloitte. So, I had like this very, like I was making great money, they were going to pay for me to get my MBA, I had a girlfriend at the time that my family liked. Like, I was checking off all the boxes.

And I realized I minored in entrepreneurship, so I've always been convinced that I could do my own thing and I think I've just never wavered from that confidence that I could do my own thing. It has taken much longer than I initially anticipated to get the stability, but it's like almost being analytical of the situation and understanding that it can work for me. Working is that I'm living a stable life through meeting people through my project because I think that's the best way for me to spend my time both for me and the people around me. I think that's the best way that I can have impact with my life. 

So, starting the project, I think just along the way, even though I haven't gotten to that place of stability, there have been points of validation that for me, have been encouragement to keep going. And I will say that like in March of 2017, I had done the project for like a year and a half at that point. That was the first time that I had a partnership. And it was me talking to this dude Chris, who ran a mom-and-pop pharmacy in Philadelphia. I was living in Philly at the time and he was like, Man, I wish there was a way that I could support you with the project. I think it's so cool. 

And it was like March 10th and I said, Well, if you want to sponsor me for this month, I want to do a partnership where like I have a business, being my partner for that month. My audience knows that they're the reason I'm able to push forward. And I was like, It's March 10th, if you want to do like 200-dollar, I'll tag you in every post for the rest of the month and I'll just say, Present This Month by Fishtown Pharmacy. And he said, let's do 300 and we'll call it a deal. And so, we did and for me, it's like okay. 

At the time, I had probably like 7,000 followers, which for me, unlike businesses probably look at that the most to be like, is that someone that I should partner with, what is their engagement and all that good stuff. But at 7,000 followers, I learned, Okay, I can make money. I can produce income through the project. And so, then that led into another company reaching out to me for April, and then another one for May, and then another one for June. And so, I saw that there was interest in people aligning themselves with the project. 

And then I went out to LA and I came back. And so, even during this time of making those small bits of income, I was losing money just to like daily living expenses, rent, etc. But I went out to LA this summer 2017 and I met this guy Ryan Westberg, who ran a t-shirt company called Serengeti. Super cool. Like travel-based t-shirt company. Like the pockets would come from different places from around the world and they would send money back to the locals there and--

Omar:

Sounds like the, you know, the shoes. What do they call it again?

Rob:

TOMS?

Omar:

TOMS. That’s the one.

Rob:

Yeah. He was a super cool dude- Ryan. So, I met him the summer 2017 because I hadn't met a lot of people who were brand ambassadors for his company. And we're the same age. And then the next summer of 2018, I went out and he introduced me to these friends of his who run a YouTube channel called Yes Theory. And Matt from Yes Theory became part of my project in May of 2018. And after we met, he said, Send me the photo. I’ll repost it to my page or his Instagram stories and he did that. And that day, 2,000 people started following me. I started getting all these messages and then I started to meet a lot of people from their circle.

And so, a month later, I was at their house going surfing with one of their video interns and we went out like six in the morning. And I was living in Long Beach, so I had to drive like an hour up to Venice to surf with them. And then, my first meeting didn't start until noon so I just have this break in time. So, they had this Irish dude, Ben, crashing at their place for the week, and then I met Ben for my project. And Amar was there and he just filmed like ten seconds of us chatting, out of nowhere, and he just put it on the Yes Theory Instagram stories. And he's like, This dude's meeting 10,000 people, and he put my tag and 4,000 people started following me that day and I got like 400 messages from all around the world. And so, to me, it’s like with just one person put out an Instagram story and this many people took interest in it. So, obviously, people think it's a cool concept. 

And then later that summer, again, I had done a partnership with Ryan and his company Serengeti, and through that, they posted about me on their Instagram account. And a girl saw it and had followed me for like a year, and then she moved from Oregon to LA. And then we met. She reposted it to her page and the next day, I got an email that said, “We want to have you on air with Ryan Seacrest.” Her friend had been a producer for the show, saw the post with me and was like, we need to have this guy on the radio show. 

Omar:

Amazing domino effect.

Rob:

Yeah. So, then I did that and then I was able to take that audio, send it to the head of partnerships at WeWork. Because this just comes from my sales background of like not being afraid to message someone. So, I sent it to that guy and then that led to us doing a nine-month partnership together, where they were paying me to meet people at their locations one day out of every week. And so--

Omar:

Smart thinking too. That was a solid move.

Rob:

Yeah. It's all in my mind like-- have you ever played Settlers of Catan?

Omar:

Of course. Great game.

Rob:

So, it's like you have these resources, right, and for me, my resources are like audio from Ryan Seacrest interview, a DM from 60 Second Docs, which is another, they do like one-minute videos on people. They had taken interest, so I sent both of those things and it's like, that's like my development card or whatever. Like, I'm buying this with those things. So--

Omar:

You know, in a weird way, I just wanted to make a really strange comparison here. You ever see like those Instagrams or those Tiktok profiles where they start off with like maybe a grain of sand and traded their way up to a car?

Rob:

Yeah.

Omar:

Kind of like a similar concept. You're building up these assets and then getting sponsors from them. But do you have it already like mapped out completely in your head the way that you're going to-- like chess moves almost, all the way ‘til the end game? Or you're just kind of seeing the opportunities as they come and then playing it?

Rob:

Definitely see the opportunities as they come. So, I tell you like all those things to just be like there were points of validation along the way. And so, that has continued up until recently of putting out a Tiktok and having over 1,000 people message me to be part of the project. I'm like, Okay, still is a super interesting concept to people. And like Zach King from Tiktok was one of those people who saw my video. He messaged me and then three weeks later, I'm in Los Angeles going lobster diving off the coast of California with him. And so, it's, to me, I have just seen these things.

But in terms of mapping it out, I met a girl who was talking about entrepreneurship and it was the best comparison that I've ever heard. And she said, it's kind of like walking through like a dark forest with just the light of your iPhone, so you can only see so far ahead of you. And once things come into focus, then you can decide where you're going to go. 

And so, for me, even public speaking goes back to last August of a year ago. I met a girl in New York City who had done a project, 100 Days Without Fear, and she turned that-- it was just like she uploaded a video 100 days in a row of her doing something that scared her. Her 100th fear was a TEDx talk. At that talk, someone approached her and they were like, You should go into public speaking. You could be charging five grand per speech because of your project and it had gotten some media attention, and so she did that. And rather than going to marketing, which was her original plan, she went into public speaking. And now three years later, her rate is like three times as much as that. And she spoke 70 times last year. Her husband quit his job to manage her full time. 

So, for me, that is a new piece of information that dramatically changed my approach to my future because I was like, Okay, rather than trying to become someone with like this big following, who has great brand partnerships, I have a story that has been covered and I have all this wisdom from meeting with these people. So, I'll just trade that knowledge for money and then I'll use that money to further the project, and whether or not I have brand partnerships, doesn't make a difference. I mean, it'd be nice to continue to that point but I'm rooted in the speaking rather than anything else.

Omar:

That makes sense. I mean, do you feel like you'll enjoy public speaking? I think that's a big question, right, at the end of the day.

Rob:

Oh, yeah. As a kid, I was very much an entertainer. Now, I’m much more mellow and laid back. But it's, that's why I want to do this stuff because it's like I know I enjoy it, but at the same time, it makes me scared. And so, I think if I can just cut through that fear and establish a comfort with being on stage the same way that I'm comfortable with talking to anyone from many different backgrounds because I've done it thousands of times, then I'll just get to that place where it's fun for me.

And I think through podcasts and stuff, I've seen that like people are interested in what I've learned from the project and the path and so I just think there's a good market. And I also feel like there's a lot of value to be brought, specifically to like university students who are in their first semester and they have this opportunity to be in a place of vulnerability to make connections with other students that will then be with them for a lifetime. Like, I want people to take advantage of that, whether they're extroverted or not.

Omar:

And you feel like with the courses that you're offering, you feel you can help them take advantage of that opportunity in a better way. By giving--

Rob:

Yeah. And that's all developing too. Like, one of my to do list items today is to say, Hey, I'm going to run one of these sessions next weekend for ten people and I'm going to do it like no cost. But I'm going to ask people to offer like a donation to the project after it, so that I can see how valuable it felt to them. And I want to help people be able to, because there's so many-- 

It boils down to like this Ford method of conversation, which I had come across like years into my project. Because I would always think of people's lives like timelines and that was kind of how I would get to know them. And then this Ford is Family, Occupation, Recreation, Dreams. And it's like, those are the four main categories of anyone's story. So, it doesn't matter who you are. Like, all of us have a family, all of us have some type of occupation. We all have things that we like to do in our free time, and we all have places that we want to go.

So, I want to help people understand the answers that they should have prepared to those questions. And then I'm like, the same questions that you have answers prepared for or what you should be asking other people. So, I just want to walk people through that and then have breakout sessions where I like put them into like a little two-person zoom group where they can practice with each other and just give them that experience of what that's like.

Omar:

It's interesting. You've followed this methodology of putting something out there and then seeing the kind of feedback and attention that it gets to be, to guide you in moving forward with that project or not. And you're applying that to your courses, you're applying that to your project, and you're probably going to apply that to public speaking, if I had to guess as well. So, it's an interesting method.

And I wanted to tie this back to what my audience merely listens to as well, which is an entrepreneurial podcast, which it basically shows the proof of concept is much more important than trying to hack your way through it and then no one liking it. Right? You want to make sure that people are actually interested in what you're selling or what you're talking about. And then, if you get some sort of validation or some sort of positive feedback on it from at least one person, you know, at least one person is interested in it and there's got to be more people like that out there, then you can continue and that's proof of concept. But if you put something out there and no one wants it, people don't like it, then it's time to cut the project or maybe pivot in a different direction or something similar but different. So that's it. You're living embodiment of that methodology and I think that's interesting.

Rob:

Yeah. It's been great for me. And I think for me, I feel like a lot of times, people want to have everything perfect before they start. And I just can't-- I am a dreamer who has to be brought back to reality but I get brought back to reality through going through it. And it also helps me get, like I might not get to the exact dream I had in mind, but I’m going to get close because I worked towards it.

Omar:

That makes sense. I mean, the more you push towards something and the more that you're getting a positive feedback loop, I guess, the further you're going to want to go into it, right? That sounds super confused kind of, but it really works, you know. And some people call it the law of attraction or like, there's so many different names for it, you know. 

But at the end of the day, like if you keep something like that, or some sort of mission, some sort of project, some sort of something that you're passionate about and want to see off the ground and you keep moving towards it, you will find a way to make it work. And then you run into situations like you did where you ran into Yes Theory and Zach King and I'm guessing when he first started back in person one, you would have never thought you would have ran into people like that. Right?

Rob:

Right. I didn't even know who any of them were when I started.

Omar:

Which is insane, you know? It's so crazy, like I can attest to that too. I haven’t been doing it as long as you have, I've only been running a podcast for a year. But I just, I landed a guest for my podcast in January, that I never thought would have come on my podcast in like 10 years, you know. So, it was super exciting. It's simply the act of just putting yourself out there and taking it step by step. And that phone analogy is perfect. It really is. Just shining the light in front of you and then going towards the opportunities that you see and you pick and choose. It's almost like a fun game. I love it.

Rob:

Yeah. Settlers of Catan.

Omar:

That's right, man. So, I want to know a little bit more about you now, right, like the kind of person that you are. And because not any random person, or most people aren't just going to pick up one day and think, hey, like I want to talk to 10,000 people. I know I can do it but I want to talk to 10,000 people. I want to see what kind of person you are. Like what, who are you as a kid? Like were you a really big people person? Did you always enjoy people and were you always curious about people ever since you were a kid?

Rob:

Yeah, I've always loved people. I'm the youngest of three. Grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Youngest of 16 cousins on my dad's side, like 10 on my mom's side. But, yeah, like I remember going to high school being super excited for it to be more people, and then going into college, being like, Penn State 40,000 people. That was one of the biggest reasons that I chose to go there. So, always super involved. Like, played soccer, National Honor Society, Community Service Corps in high school, fraternity in college, tour guide, did like a bunch of clubs and activities. 

So, I've just always had that mindset of like putting myself out into new experiences, meeting new people. And so, when I decided to start this project, it was driven by that passion. Like people now-- because I think it has this air of good to it that I'm meeting people from all different backgrounds and whatnot. But I sometimes feel selfish when people say that because I'm like, I love doing this. This is fun for me to go out and meet people from different backgrounds. Like, I've always been that person. 

Sometimes, people think that I was someone who didn't have friends as a kid and this is me overcompensating. But I’m like, I just had really good relationships throughout my life and, specifically in college, and I'm still very close with my friends from there. And so, it was this thing that I knew I really enjoyed that I didn't want to stop creating. Like, I think I have a very close group of friends and I think it will-- they'll always be my core. But the act of like going out and meeting a new person and learning from them, to me, that-- yeah it just wasn't something that I wanted to stop at college, because I found a lot of people did leave it there. 

But, yes, always an adventurist too. Like, I feel most alive when I'm in new situation. Like, one of my favorite things from the project, I met a flight attendant who gave me his buddy pass and I was able to fly to Hawaii for free. And so, I booked like three nights at a hostel there. I went to Maui and the whole goal was just meet people in Maui for the project. So, I was just DM-ing random based Maui, Maui based accounts and some of them got back to me, some of them didn't. But when I got to the hostel, it was like, Okay, I'm at a hostel. Everyone else here is new to the hostels. Connected with some of those people, had just awesome times with the people that I met there. 

The first day, we went on like an adventure and the next day, it was me and two kids. One had just graduated from Ohio State University and the other one, I think he went to Kansas State. But we did the Road to Hana, which is the eastern part of Maui, it’s like you do pretty much the perimeter of the island. Yeah. And that was probably one of my favorite travel days life because it was these two people that I had just met in this place that I was completely unfamiliar with. And we saw like a black sand beach, a red sand beach. We hiked through this bamboo forest to this 400 waterfall. We're driving there getting to know each other. 

And so, I have always had that sense of adventure to make me light up and that is like a big driving force between why I continue again to seek that, I guess, and even still. Like I've been in Philly, LA, New York City and now virtual. But I'm only 3900 people into this project, so I think if you and I are having this conversation after I've met all 10,000, I'm telling you stories about when I traveled to India or when I traveled to Germany or--

Omar:

That was going to be my next question. Right now, your national. Are you going to go international?

Rob:

Yeah, as soon as possible. [Inaudible 36:03] has always been a limit, like a financial limit. I have gone to Canada because I had a random family run furniture company that took an interest in my project. Flew me up to Canada, paid for my Airbnbs, paid for my flights, my meals, put me on national TV up there. So that was really cool. But yeah, the flight for me was an hour and a half, so it didn't feel International. But yes. And the nice thing about this time is that I never intended the pandemic like most of us.

Omar:

I don’t think anyone did.

Rob:

Yeah. I never anticipated it, rather. But it has allowed me to connect with so many different people from around the world that now, when I do travel, I have people literally in like 70 different countries that I could hit up and be like, Hey, could I crash with you or, Hey, could you show me around, show me what the locals do, or could you help introduce me to some people. So, I'm very lucky that I was forced to go into this virtual Zoom call for the time being. And I think I'll keep it even once life returns to normal. Like two days of in person, two days of Zoom calls. 

And then, I want to get into YouTube too and do like a one-day deep dive on someone's story, doing something interesting with them. Like, I met a woman earlier this week who has a kinkajou sanctuary at her home in Florida.

Omar:

Kinkajou. Is that an animal?

Rob:

Kinkajou. Yeah. It's a nocturnal animal. But I would love to go down there and film us like cleaning or like socializing with the animals, and then capture how she got into that and make like an episode out of that. But do that on a weekly basis. 

Omar:

I could really see just from like potential-wise from what I've seen on your channel so far. To be like potentially as big as Yes Theory and channels like that, you know, that are really centered. And your channel’s message will be centered around people, you know, and the importance of connecting and meeting people around the world. And I've seen other channels try to do something similar but they haven't done it in the way that you have, you know. 

You run into like travel YouTube channels and stuff that'll go out there, and vlog with the locals, and do things like that. But your channel is just so people centric, that in the future, you could start some sort of like TEDx thing or something else. But this is my dreamer side coming. I have no idea what you have planned for your channel but I think it has a lot going on for it. 

And I totally relate to what you just said as well, right, because I just came back from a three-year stint in New Zealand and Australia traveling. I mean, this is a digital nomad podcast that I made just centered around this. And when I came back in the pandemic in March, I made this podcast originally simply because I wanted to meet more people. It was never coming from a business perspective ever. In fact, it didn't even start off as an entrepreneurial podcast. Maybe midway, I changed it to half entrepreneurial as well because I realize I'm interested in entrepreneurship. 

But I've met so many people through that network in those podcasts that are also digital nomads that go out and travel the world, and have these adventures that are living in different countries and doing awesome things, that I'm super excited to meet as soon as this pandemic is over, you know. So, I totally relate to that feeling of going out and having adventures. 

It even reminded me a story of you. You know how you said you went on that road in Hawaii with two random friends, it reminded me of a story of like the first week that I landed in Australia. I met these two guys named Russell and Keith and they were roommates and each other from California. They'd flown all the way across the world and they were really cool people.  

A week later, we went down together, got a random like small Toyota Camry car, like really tight, and three of us went on this road called the Great Ocean Road, which is from Melbourne in Australia, South. And we got in, we got a couple bottles of wine and we just drove down the road and stayed the first night in some random parking lot. Just getting really drunk on wine and playing long exposure shots on my camera. We saw some really cool things like beautiful beaches out of the way, kangaroo shelter. Just, it was a very vivid memory that came back to me when you mentioned that story. So, super cool.

Rob:

Yeah.  And those things have such long-term value, too. I believe I met an artist once through my project who does murals in Philly and he said two things that had stuck with me. One, he was like, in this life, it's like it's so short the time that we spend here in the grand scheme of things. He’s like, I personally believe that the person who sees and touch and like tastes and like experiences the most in their time on earth wins. And he's like, no, it's not a competition. But it's a competition. He's like, whoever does that, wins. 

And I similarly think that having the most experiences is a really cool thing. I have taken that and been like the person who on their deathbed has the most positive memories in their life from a personal fulfillment standpoint. Like, you can't be that. It doesn't matter like people say how much you have in your bank account or whatnot, but to have positive memories or to know that you've made a positive impact, I think, is a really cool thing to shoot for. 

And then, the other thing that guy told me was that because of that living in such a short period of time, that he heard a proverb once that was just, may you live in interesting times. And that, I thought about that so much since he told me that. It helps me with the pandemic where it's like, well, we're living in interesting times. When we're older, we'll be the people that are—like, I think about that even now. Last night when I was reading, my parents were like getting everything set up for dinner and they had the news on and they're just talking about the hospitals being overwhelmed and this and that. 

And like for us right now, that's such a normal thing, oddly because it's the world that we're living in. But think about like if you're watching a movie from the 1920s and they have the news reports of hospital beds being overwhelmed or like when they had to bring in ships with extra beds, like that’s stuff is going to be crazy for people like 50 years from now, to think back on. And so, like we are really in interesting times as hard as it is. But yes, and all that to say, those memories of driving, having the bottles of wine and stuff, I think you'll take that with you for the rest of your life. And to me, like how can you-- you can't put a price on that. It's so good.

Omar:

Absolutely. I mean, you know what they say, like the biggest regret on people's deathbed has always been, I didn't do enough, or I missed out on this opportunity, you know. It's never, I had this much money, or I didn't make enough money, you know. It's always about the connections. It's always about the experiences. And that's something that I heard quite young as well when I was like 18, 17 and it just kind of stuck with me, you know. And life, for me, was after that, was just like one adventure after another trying to chase after it. 

But then, something changed quite recently, maybe in the last year and I don't know if it's sinister or not, but I'm happy. But to take it as you may, but what happened was, I realized-- and I mean you're doing this project, right. Like, you have 10,000 people that you're meeting and you’re getting sponsored for it and whatnot. There's a point where I was chasing adventure so much and I was just so like, Oh, I don't care about making money or anything. I'll just find my way through picking up odd jobs, whatever. That somewhere along that line, I realized I'm actually missing out on experiences because I don't have enough money, you know. 

So, I had to take a step back and I realize like there's such thing as too much freedom, and sometimes you need a little bit of stability to kind of sustain the kind of adventures that you want to have or bring the longevity into it, rather than just thinking short term, you know. So, it's one of the main reasons I came back to America in the first place.

Rob:

Yeah. I totally agree with that. And I think that adventure too can be like having a really deep relationship with a loved one. For me, that has moved up in priority so much over the years because I have met people who have lost siblings that are my age or who have lost parents that are my age. And I mentioned I’m the youngest of three and I have all these cousins and my parents are still alive, still together.

So, I, like literally every week, I'll meet someone young who has lost a parent and I think when you're faced with that so consistently, it forces you to recognize that they're not here forever. So, I have changed a lot in the gratitude that I have and the appreciation. And like I mentioned, I still live with my parents, but in the grand scheme of things, I'm like, wow, I get all this extra time to spend with them.

Omar:

That’s the way I see it too.

Rob:

Yeah. And I'm like, I’d having tea with my mom at night or we're just sitting, like watching a movie together. I'm like, that is the best thing that you can get is to share that time with people and the adventures and stuff like--

Omar:

How old are you, Rob? Just out of curiosity.

Rob:

How old am I? 

Omar:

Yeah.

Rob:

I'll be 30 next month. 

Omar:

Okay. So, you’re older. That makes sense. Because I realized when I was younger, like 24, 23, I didn't think like that the way that we think now, you know. I was just like, yeah, like, my parents aren't going to be around forever, get to spend as much time as I possibly can with them. I know what you're saying.

Rob:

Yeah. So, multiple things of adventure. But yeah, going out every once in a while and having that like spontaneity is really cool, too. But yeah, I think as we get older, there's like a balance, but they're both still valuable.

Omar:

Absolutely, man. This question keeps coming to my head and then I keep forgetting to ask it, but now I just remembered again. It's a bit left field. How do you filter the people that you want on your show? [Inaudible 46:30]? Like, what do you do?

Rob:

I don't know. Before, when I was doing it in person, it was just who was around, like who was in that area. So, for example, when 400 people messaged me from Yes Theory, a lot of them were not in LA. And so, I messaged all of them back and just said, Hey, I'd love to meet if I'm ever in your area. And of course, now we fast forward, we're in a pandemic. I'm meeting a lot of those people virtually, which is cool, because they followed the project for two years. But it would just be people who I could get to, that I could make sure I could get from one spot to the next in time to meet them.

And then, when I decided to go virtual, that day that I posted about that back in March, I got like 200 messages from people who had been following and just never thought they'd have the opportunity to be part of this. And I was just making my way through them and then I put out that Tiktok and I just got an overwhelming number of people. And so, I don't know. 

Something you mentioned earlier that I'm proud of is like the diversity of people. That, I think, is one of the only things that I try to have an active part in, is I want people from different backgrounds. Like races, ethnicities, like sexual orientation, age. So, I try my best to do that and it's weird because if I'm going through my DMS, I don't even look for anything specific. And sometimes I'll just be like, I don't have anyone from South America this week. I'll see a message that's like, Hey, I'm from Venezuela, and I'm like, Alright, cool. I'll respond, we're going to meet. 

And, yeah, so that-- and I don't know if that’s the right way or the wrong way to do things because now, I have people who are like, Hey, I've messaged you and you never answered, or you never even opened it. And I'm like, Yes, I know. But I may have never even seen it. And so, I'm starting to like become more attracted to people who follow up to just because--

Omar:

To anyone listening right now that's reached out to Rob, make sure to follow up because he's getting hundreds of DMs a day and I made sure that I followed up twice just to get on.

Rob:

Yeah. And I think, to me, because there's a lot of people who will be excited in the moment and they'll send a message and then they'll forget that the project even exists and they’ll go on with their life. But then, there are the people who follow up two, three, four times. And to me, I'm like, Okay, they actually, they're really interested in the project. They're really excited about it. And so, I want to make sure that I schedule with them. So, following up has been a big thing for me and then just trying to and even like--

I very rarely reach out to people because I want to be respectful of people who have reached out to me. My mindset has always been, if I have someone who took the time to reach out, I shouldn't be going out to try to find other people. But every once in a while, like—do you know Stevo Luddy? He's on Tiktok.

Omar:

I can’t say I do.

Rob:

You should look him up. He's super cool. But he has like a crazy story. His one arm is shorter than other, one leg is shorter than the other. He wears like a shoe with a boot and he's just super open about his life. But super, like he comes off as very confident and cool, like the type of guy that you want to be his friend. And he put out a video about him doing a golf swing and talking about all these operations that he had been through in his life. Like, he had cancer when he was a kid and whatnot. And I was just really interested and inspired by him. So, I met with him.

And then, there's a singer recently, his name is Jackson Lundy, I think, or Jackson Ludy. Lundy, I think. He had like 500 followers on Tiktok and I saw one of his songs and his voice was so good and it just stuck with me. So, I reached out to him because I was like, I want to know how this man creates his music.

Omar:

[Inaudible 50:29] artists like that once in a while on Tiktok.

Rob:

Yeah. Every once in a while, things like that, I'll reach out to people. But that was a long-winded answer just to say, I appreciate when people follow up and I try to make sure that my page is diverse. Not only like, because I don't want the same of everything either. Like, I like the diversity because that is what makes me grow and that's what makes me learn. So, it's fun.

Omar:

[Inaudible 50:55]

Rob:

Yeah?

Omar:

You feel like you've changed since person number one compared to-- ?

Rob:

Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I don't even know if I can put myself back into the head space of how I saw the world before because It's just different. Like, there’s so much that we’re ignorant to because we're so focused on our own paths. And you can't blame someone for that because there's a lot going on. It's hard to be a person to live a life. But for me, when I was able to like create my life as stepping into other people's shoes, it just opened my eyes to a lot of things. And so, a good comparison is like they say you buy a yellow car, you start to see yellow cars on the road everywhere.

For me, like I talk to someone about an issue or about a concept, either positive or negative, then I'm more aware of that going into the future. And so, like a very simple example is military brats. Like, I grew up in the same house my whole life, but then I started to meet these people who were like, yeah, I moved every two to three years growing up because my parents were in the military. And now, I'm just more aware of that. Like, how many people did not grow up in the same house their whole life or how many people don't have both of their parents? These are just things that I could have gone my whole life without really having to pay attention to. But because I talk to someone about it and because we took that time and shared that bond, it then becomes something that is like almost important to me. So, multiply that by 3900 and it changes the way that you see things.

Omar:

You know, you’re telling me that answer.  There's something that preach I on my podcast, right, and you kind of opened up my mind to that concept a little bit here and I want to share that with you. So, something that I say on my podcast is that if you're depressed, or if you have hate in your heart, or if there's any sort of negative feelings that you foster, one of the best ways to get rid of it is to travel. And I say that because you meet so many different kinds of people from so many different backgrounds and you see, you're away from all your problems back home. So, it's always been like a quick cure to be more appreciative, more grateful and just more positive in life. 

But in the same regard, I think meeting tons of different types of people also has the same effect. We're also having tons of different experiences also has the same effect, right? And I've always thought to myself, like what if everyone in America and with like the politics and like all the hey and the riots and everything that's going on, if everyone in America could just do that as well, what a better place America would be. What a much more open and connected and happy place the world will be. So yeah, I just wanted to share that. 

Rob:

Yeah. It's so true. And people think they're so different. Like, people think that people who are not like them are so different. And I think about that because people will ask me like, when you talk to people from different countries, like what are the differences that you see because you're talking to people from all around the world? And I'm like, nothing. Well, there's like cultural differences, right? But I'm like, they talk about Billie Eilish, like, they like her. Or they talk about they're in university and they get pressure from their parents to follow a specific path. 

Like, there's so much that in the human experience is shared from one person to another. That it's just funny to me because I'm like, we’re all so similar, that you just need to take the time to like-- even like our conversation, we have things that we can share back and forth that are so similar. We've never met each other before but we have like similar interests in people or pushing projects forward or going on these adventures. And so, that happens with everyone. But yeah, I agree, if people would just sit and talk to each other more, there would be more creation of empathy. And I always say I don't believe in world peace but I do believe in world empathy. 

Omar:

100 percent. That's the exact word right there. Empathy.

Rob:

Yeah. I think the way that you do that is like taking the time to connect with the people around you. 

Omar:

Yeah. Let's hope the world-- I mean, there's like technology and social media and everything like making it easier to communicate with other people. Let’s hope the world kind of goes in that direction, you know. I mean, we're already seeing a cultural shift of being more acceptable to people that are from different races, ethnicities, backgrounds, sexual orientation, so who knows? Maybe we could be going towards world empathy, but only time will tell. 

Rob:

Yeah. Yeah. That’s true.

Omar:

Cool, man. That was very, you seem very enlightened. You know, enlightenment through people, which is I guess a turmoil coin right now. Enlightenment through people. But yeah, you seem very enlightened, man. And I really, really wish you like the best of luck on your journey and I'm super excited to see—like, I don't even want to ask if you've decided who the 10,000th person’s going to be yet, but I'm excited to see who it's going to be. I’m sure you’ve got a surprise for us in there somewhere.

Rob:

Yeah. I don't know who it will be. It will be someone that no one knows. I don't want it to be someone big, I want it to be someone who could use the attention. 

Omar:

Oh, yeah?

Rob:

Yeah. We’ll see who it is--

Omar:

Imagine like it's just like the randomest person who has no idea about your story either. And you kind of say, Hey, man. Like, I interview people. You want to come on? He had suddenly become the 10,000th person.

Rob:

Yeah. So, I don’t know. We will see.

Omar:

Cool, man. I'm excited to see it and I'm definitely going to follow along ‘til then. Where can people find you, Rob?

Rob:

People can find me on Instagram, @robs10kfriends. That's where I take a picture with everyone. I write their story and how we met. And then, they can find me on TikTok @robs10kfriends. That's more of me sharing a bit of my story and some of the things that I've learned from the project, so it's like a playground for me. And then I have a website, robs10kfriends.com but it's really like Instagram is the main thing, TikTok is secondary. And if they want to meet, they can shoot me a message there. Like, don't be deterred from the fact that I have a bunch of messages. Like I said, I appreciate people following up. So--

Omar:

Follow up, guys. 

Rob:

Yeah.

Omar:

And you want to talk a little bit about the upcoming program that you have as well?

Rob:

Oh, sure. I'm trying to, so I put this out last week. I want to create like a seminar, and this is partially as a way for me to help fund myself through the project, where I run, set like a session on the weekend, me and ten other people. My goal is to walk them through kind of that FORD method to help them understand the talking points that they should have prepared for themselves, whether it's going into a first date or an interview. And also equip them with the questions that they should be asking of other people. And then I want to have little breakouts. So, if it’s ten people, like create five groups where they're paired. So like, talk about family questions, and then breakout session, you're discussing your family with someone for eight minutes. And then, we go into occupation breakout. You're discussing with someone new occupation. 

So, a way for people to understand the things that they should know about themselves and to give them practice to discuss that with another stranger. And hopefully, they would connect afterwards and continue those conversations. But again--

Omar:

So, you're building a method and a community around it as well.

Rob:

Kind of. Yes. So, we're going to say it's very, very early stages. Kind of like we said, just trying to prove the concept out and then build it over time. 

Omar:

Cool. Really cool project and I wish you the best of luck with it. Thank you so much for coming on today, Rob.

Rob:

Yeah. Thank you for having me, man. It was a pleasure.

Outro-

You made it to the end of the episode, Nomad fam. Remember to leave a rating or review. Your feedback helps take this podcast to the next level. It's funny how things are sometimes. Your review could start a butterfly effect and literally end up changing someone else's life for the better. So keep that in mind. 

The guests are about to get crazy these upcoming months including yes, Pat Flynn. I appreciate every single one of you, the Nomad fam community. It's been a great ride so far and we're only getting started. So, make sure to hit that subscribe button and stay along for the ride. 

One final thing. If you made it this far, I want you to shoot me an email at omarmodigital@gmail.com. I would love to sit down and connect with you with a one on one. I want to know who you are, what you do, your story. Everything about you. Because if you've made it this far, you've probably been listening for a while. So yeah, shoot me an email. Anyways, thanks for listening. Speak soon.

Thanks for tuning in to the Nomadic Executive. If you enjoyed this episode, take a moment to leave a rating or review. Your feedback helps us reach others who need a spark of inspiration. See you next time.

 


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