By: Pedro Medina
As I stroll through life, I look into the eyes of strangers and I ask myself how to convert a stranger into a friend, how to challenge that paradigm – “don´t talk to strangers”, how to unleash my curiosity and desire for discovery. SERENDIPITY has become an integral part of my day – SERENDIPITY not just as the happy accident, but as an intentioned happy accident, a directed happy accident, a strategic happy accident.
In the middle of my life I decided to make my transition from success to significance. After twenty years in business, I went to Harvard as a Fellow to reinvent myself. We lived in Belmont and I took the bus to school. Upon entering the bus the first day, I noticed people reading the paper or a book and totally disconnected to the other humans. As I sat, I noticed the fellow human would not even acknowledge my existence. I decided to break the ice and engaged the person sitting next to me. To my surprise, I found incredibly warm people and fascinating conversations.
Breaking the ice was the biggest challenge, so I developed a number of one liners which opened doors.
“Any good news,” I inquired one morning.
“It´s all bad news,” replied this affable bald gentleman.
“Sounds like my country”, I said.
“And which one is it?”
“Colombia,” I replied.
“Really?” he asked with surprise in his voice.
“Yes,” I said. “Have you ever been there…do you know much about Colombia?”
“I haven´t been there but I do know about Colombia”.
“Why so,” I asked.
“Because of my work.”
“And what do you do?”
“I´m a professor of sustainable development.”
“Really? Where do you teach?”
“In the Kennedy School at Harvard.”
“I´m a fellow at the Weatherhead Center at Harvard! A pleasure meeting you! I´m Pedro Medina.”
“I´m Bill Clark.”
As we were reaching the Harvard Square Station, Professor Clark touched my arm and said: “Pedro, thank you for breaking the ice. I normally take the bicycle but today it was flat and I´ve enjoyed very much this conversation.”
As I mentioned to students in Harvard this encounter, I had several that told me: “You met the Bill Clark? I´ve been wanting to meet him for years. Where did you meet him?” On the bus!
657 times that year, with 657 strangers, on the bus, walking, in the T, in classes, events and meetings, even in the restroom, I unleashed my social energy, broke my paradigms and met some of the most wonderful people in the world, many of whom I stay in touch. I developed a methodology which I call SERENDIPITY.
Scan and find a person which gives me good energy.
Eliminate negative thoughts
bReak the ice
Engage in conversation
Note details which are commonalities
Illuminate reciprocity giving something to the other person
Propose reconnection exchanging contact information
Illustrate the possible relationship
Take the initiative and reconnect
You´ve done it – Congratulate yourself!
Today, ten years later, I do this every day, everywhere. I have taught this methodology to 680,000 people through my work with Yo Creo in Colombia http://www.yocreoencolombia.com/serendipity. I find most people very interesting once you go beyond the facade. I find face time incredibly valuable in a world of virtual relationships. And my life is deeply enriched.