A Brief Note on Approaching Success
Looking to expand your social network? Our guest this week is aiming to make a few new friends himself (10,000 of them, to be exact). Rob Lawless is a man on a mission, one he's chronicled over the past few months on social media. After MSL Co-Founder Britt MacLeod connected with him through this project, we couldn't wait to highlight our shared enthusiasm for shaping the world through shared stories and welcome Rob as a guest contributor.
My roommate and I were so excited that we jumped out of bed at 2AM, wrote it all out on our whiteboard, and snapped a pic to capture the memory. We had to document it. It was the idea that was going to make us millions
…or so we thought.
Throughout college, my roommate and I spent countless nights brainstorming how to build the next Facebook. We wanted to hit it big so we could live the lives we really imagined for ourselves - waking up on our own time, taking trips to big cities, and hanging out with our friends whenever we felt like it. Like most students, though, we opted for safe jobs. My roommate went into engineering and I began my career in consulting.
I didn’t give up though. I was set on taking the fast route to success. Three months into my career with Deloitte, I emailed a billionaire alumnus from my fraternity asking if he’d be interested in supporting a $5 million art collection I had planned to create. As you can imagine, he was not interested, and I never received a response. I stuck with consulting for another year after that before quitting and taking a job at a promising Philly startup called RJMetrics.
During that time, I was commuting 1 hour each way on the train and started writing down my thoughts in case I ever did become successful. It wasn’t until a year after I took that job that I re-read some of my “Thoughts on the Way to Success” and took the first step towards my current project, Robs10kFriends. I had stumbled across two old notes that I had written. One stating, “Introduce myself to 10,000 people in one year. 200 people/week. 40 people/day (weekends off). 10 min conversation = 7 hrs/day.” The other, “My ability to meet people is what will take me to where I want to be.” These notes helped put me on the path of setting out to meet 10,000 different people for 1 hour each.
"I’ve come to realize that creating the next Facebook was not feasible for me; however, building something I was passionate about step by step, hour by hour, was."
Since meeting the first person on my journey on 11/11/2015, my project has become much more important to my life, as I’m now pursuing it full-time. This past June (2016), I was laid off from my job as the result of my company being acquired. Rather than going out and searching for a new job, I decided to fully immerse myself in meeting people with the goal of getting enough publicity to make my project worth sponsoring. Buying health insurance through the government, watching my bank account decline month after month, and feeling pressure from friends and family to get a job continue to make the road ahead daunting; but I wholeheartedly believe in my mission. To date, I have invested over 315 hours hearing about people’s lives with probably an additional 315 in scheduling meetings and recapping our conversations. I’ve been interviewed by multiple online publications, filmed news segments for PHL17 and FOX 29, and have been asked to speak to a crowd of over 300 people about my story.
I told you all of that to tell you this: I’ve come to realize that creating the next Facebook was not feasible for me; however, building something I was passionate about step by step, hour by hour, was. For me, I didn’t need a quick win to live the life I wanted. I needed a life that didn’t require quick wins to be fulfilling. As I write this post, I’m sitting on a Megabus with my laptop on my lap, heading to NYC for the week to meet people for my project. I’ll return to Philly in 6 days only to fly to LA the following day to meet people out there. I have no idea where this project will take me or what level of success I’ll achieve with it, but I couldn’t be happier about the adventure I’m on.
Hopefully, I can learn a thing or two that I can pass on to help you 1) figure out what your true dreams are and 2) achieve those dreams!
- Rob Lawless
This post has been edited for grammar. All other content remains the original thoughts & expressions of the author.