After moving to the States I met a photographer in Kennedy Center through whom I got myself the first local clients for my web site business. While being in a completely random party I met an artist who has influenced and helped me write better poetry and get more into arts. By going to dinner at a friend’s house I got the final kick to buying my first motorcycle.
These are just a couple of examples how strangers have changed my life. In fact, Alan Gregerman and his friend Shrek, suggest that strangers have even greater impact on your career and getting new ideas than your friends do. This is for the simple reason of your friends and colleagues being usually very much like you and having similar ideas.
The importance of other people, including strangers, in our lives is humongous. Without other people even our greatest ideas and pursuits have very little chance of becoming big or even staying alive. Can you come up with an author who hasn’t had any influence from other people? What comes of tabula rasa if there’s no one to write something on it? That’s right, it stays empty.
Think about it: it’s not a surprise when you come back from a holiday or a short trip that you’ve got a lot of energy and new ideas. You walk around the town, see the sights, see strangers on the streets and maybe even talk to them. Not only do you make new connections with people but new connections in your nervous system as well. Who though that just by taking a stroll and being aware of your surroundings (yeah, meaning not staring at your smart phone screen or listening to those 24 songs you’ve heard a hundred times before) can have such a profound effect on your ideas?
Steve Jobs used to walk everywhere, look around, and get new ideas. I’m not saying that by walking every once in a while you’ll get to be a genius in innovation. I’m just saying that you should try being open to strangers and in any which way to ingest new ideas. In fact, I’m sure there’s something just around the corner that will resolve that problem you encountered yesterday at work.
I haven’t read the book yet but I very much enjoyed his speech on the topic. I’m getting the book though and if you’re interested here’s an affiliate link to The Necessity of Strangers: The Intriguing Truth About Insight, Innovation, and Success by Alan Gregerman.
Paul Rauno Merisalu October 4th, 2013