There was an excellent op-ed piece by David Brooks last week in the NY Times — The Creative Monopoly. A must read.
On a sunny Monday afternoon, I walk into the bustling Jane on Fillmore Street for a bite to eat. It is well past the lunch hour, yet there is a long line to order food and almost every seat in the house is taken. I order the Asian salad with a cup of butternut squash soup (delicious!) and head for the only available spot – a seat at the main counter. I am taken aback by all the people sitting here and the same question that inspired this blog runs through my mind — who ARE these people and what are they doing here in the middle of the workday? I text this inquiry to my friend and she responds with an encouraging: “Ask.” Armed with this directive, I scour around for my first interviewee. What’s the worst that can happen?
Sitting to my right is a young, cheery girl chatting away with the customer sitting next to her — someone she has obviously just met. With their laptops propped open in front of them, they exchange stories and share Facebook profiles. Every once in awhile, she breaks away from the conversation to check her email or google something to share with her new friend. A few times she glances over and smiles at me sitting next to her reading on my iPad.
Once her new acquaintance leaves, I turn to her and say “Excuse me. Can I ask you what you’re doing here?” She responds with a puzzled look. (Mental note – must rework intro). I explain to her my curiosity and why I’m sitting here in the middle of the day. And thus begins what ends up being a very pleasant 2.5 hour conversation.
Her name is Olivia. For lunch, she has ordered a cup of black coffee and a chocolate cake the size of my head. I like her already. Her voice is soft and sweet, and there is enthusiasm behind everything she says. Originally from Newport Beach, Olivia moved to SF three years ago and has been working in marketing ever since. She is transitioning out of her current job and is doing some freelance work in the meantime. Jane is a favorite destination of hers: a place to go to get some work done while in the company of others.
Olivia has come here today from an impromptu job interview with a man she met on the bus after complimenting him on the alligator briefcase he was carrying. They struck up a conversation, which lead to an exchange of business cards and ultimately an interview to do marketing for his new social business venture. (Lesson learned: you never know who you’re going to meet so always be prepared). Olivia is also contemplating a life changing career decision. Should she leave her life and friends in SF to pursue another possibly lucrative opportunity on the opposite coast? She asks my opinion and although I have just met her, I offer her the same two cents I would give my dearest friends.
I like Olivia’s energy. We bond over our love of home goods websites and arts and crafts; the countless “straight dates” we endured in our efforts to make friends in a city where we didn’t know a soul; and my favorite, our coincidental decisions to forego buying boring beige couches, and opting for bright blue ones instead. (She showed me a pic; her couch is indeed an indulgent royal blue!) Within minutes of our introduction she is on her computer emailing me links to blogs and websites she thinks I might like. I jot down all of her great suggestions, from gmail plugins to organizations I should consider joining. Her willingness to share information and make connections without any expectation for something in return is refreshing. Frankly, I suspect that will ultimately be a key ingredient to her success.
©2012, A Lawyer Walks Into a Coffee Bar. All rights reserved.