My friend, who used to be a startup CEO, gave a party at her apartment. The party was for her husband and his new book. I don’t know him well, but I do know books, which is one reason I was invited.
I have to admit, I have no idea what people mean when they say, “The parties at SXSW were so great.” I don’t know how to party. I don’t drink. I don’t like shouting over music. I can’t handle standing up for long periods of time. I have trouble recognizing people I have only met once or twice. So parties generally aren’t fun for me.
This party was different.
It was crowded, but in an apartment that size, that probably meant there were 25 or 30 people there.
The thing is, they were the most interesting people I ever met in a short period of time. You would turn around and bump into someone and tell your story and they would be a corporate CEO, or an artist, or a professor, or an entrepreneur, or a local TV news anchor, or somebody running a cool non-profit.
If my friend was talking to someone and I walked up, she would introduce us. Her introduction for me was embarrassing. “This is Josh Bernoff. He was an incredible analyst at Forrester Research when we were just getting started. And now he is this writing expert, you won’t believe what his blog is about.” And then she’d introduce the other person, who, whether they were a 26-year old just getting started or the head of a non-profit, would get the same effusive treatment. “She’s doing the most incredible thing.” And then “You should write a book: talk to Josh!” And then she was off to connect somebody else with somebody else.
So I’d talk to the person I’d just been introduced to, and it was fascinating. After all, I’d just been told they were one of the most interesting people in the world, and they’d just been told the same thing about me. So naturally, we hit it off. What a great way to connect.
These were interesting people. But you know, nearly everybody is interesting if you stop a minute to listen to their story.
I don’t know if I could do what my friend does. But I’m going to try — whether the introductions are in person or by email. I am by nature a cynic, which means, basically, “a person who reserves his enthusiasm for things that are screwed up.” But maybe, when it comes to introductions, I need to harness that enthusiasm a little better. Because interesting people deserve it, and all of my friends are interesting.