One guy sets out to make 10,000 new friends, meeting to connect with them one-on-one for an hour each. No agenda, just to talk about pretty much whatever. Tall task, right?
That’s exactly what Rob Lawless (aka Robs10kFriends) has set out to do – and made it his mission to complete. Currently, Lawless sits at a little more than 4,300 friends and adds about four each day. I’m proud to say I’m now one of them. More on that in a few.
The 30-year-old, Penn State grad started out working a full time sales gig for data analytics startup RJMetrics. He began this project in 2015, when he would DM people at random to meet, hoping they would respond. Many of those folks being found on Billy Penn’s “Who’s Next” list, according to an interview with In the Know. Much of his initial meetings were in person but, due to the pandemic, have turned virtual where people can reach out to him if they would like to meet via Zoom.
Enter, me. I discovered Lawless’ project one way or another, either on social media or television a couple years ago. I periodically DM’d him to see if I could get in on this cool project once it went virtual. Lawless had so many followers and people sending him messages that the opportunity didn’t present itself right away. That is, until last Thursday, when I commented on an Instagram Reel Lawless had posted. A little while later, he DM’d me and asked if I could meet the next day. Of course I agreed!
Now, let me say, I don’t think I would have agreed to do something like this about eight or so years ago. As I told Lawless during our meetup, I definitely have some social anxiety. Particularly when it comes to people I don’t know. I think going through college as well as my work experiences have helped tremendously in that regard but I do still find myself grappling with it on occasion.
Nonetheless, the meeting was great! I subconsciously thought, what on earth could I talk about for an hour and remain interesting? I mean, I haven’t traveled the world or experienced many great adventures. I’m pretty normal when it comes to that. But I actually had plenty to talk about and the hour passed by way too quickly. Heck, I could have sat there and talked with Lawless for even longer. He’s a great guy who genuinely sits and listens, intrigued by what folks tell him. He then takes what he hears and transcribes it into a post on Instagram documenting who he’s met and their stories.
We talked about everything from our families, to music and playing instruments (I the clarinet and he the saxophone and guitar), to our shared affinity for The Lion King. I learned quite a bit about him and he, I. I also learned that I use the word “like” way more than I thought I did! After following Lawless’ project for the past few years, I’m grateful I finally got the opportunity to meet him and become one of his friends. It’s a pleasure to continue supporting his project and him as a person as well. We need more people like Rob Lawless in this world.
You can check out the Instagram post from our conversation below as well as Lawless’ website for more.