Connecting people and ideas through improvisation

Life is tastier when you take risks – Breakfast With Strangers

Breakfast With StrangersBack in December of 2012 I saw a thread on Reddit from two people who were driving around the country and trying to meet interesting people for breakfast. They were wondering if anyone in Phoenix could help them out.

Let’s see… random connecting with people, looking for good food, a chance to show off Phoenix? I was made for this like cheese for mice! I gave them a call and swamped them with ideas for places to eat, drink, shop, and visit, and a nice list of people they could meet with.

It turned out these fine people were Courtney and Matt from Breakfast With Strangers from Portland, Oregon. After getting married they launched a Kickstarter to help fund a trip around the US to have breakfast with interesting people everywhere they stopped. They had a rough travel plan, but mostly it was they two of them driving back and forth across the country in their van, the USS Pancake, and throwing out open invitations to the wind.

You can hear their thoughts on their trip and they people they met in this video they did with AOL. My favorite part is at the end where they talk about the most important thing they learned:

In Phoenix they ended up breakfasting with the most wonderful Jenny Poon and her husband, Odeen, at Matt’s Big Breakfast. Apparently they had dined at many IHOPs across the US and I could not, would not, let that happen in Phoenix.

I met up with Courtney and Matt later that night for drinks at OHSO Nanobrewery to show off some Arizona craft beer, and I ended up being dubbed the Breakfast With Strangers Moment of the Day back on December 6th, which was rather nice of them.

Now they’re working on a book of their adventures, and I’m looking forward to hearing the things they learned along the way as much as the people they met. You can follow their future exploits on their blog or on their Facebook page.

I love their entire project, but my favorite aspect is how they trusted themselves and others to put it together as they went. They could have scripted this out from Oregon before they left, but they would have met the majority of the amazing people they did, like Barry, the curator of the National Mustard Museum. As they said in the video, the happiest people they met were ones who took risks.

Plan less and see where the world takes you, but always eat a tasty breakfast.

A mysterious red button – do you push it?

An ominous black box with a small red button sits in a public square in France. First, watch what happens…

There are three reasons I adore this idea.

It’s fun. This is the most obvious thing about it, but what happens is far beyond just bells and whistles. Dancing lips? Super hugging hands? This is whimsical and silly, right out of the unbounded imagination of a child. Fantastic.

It’s risky. “Let’s take a giant box, put a big red button on it, and… are you with me so far?” I would love to meet the people who came up with this promotion, then the people who approved it and funded it. They didn’t take the 10,000th Fan from their Facebook page and give them a prize in a drab giveaway, they rolled some pretty crazy dice.

Companies seek viral buzz and word of mouth, but reward only comes from risk. This fantastic risk taking that not only makes for an incredibly creative way to get your name out (even to people who don’t speak your language), but says a lot about the company behind it. Any company able to create an idea like this has a fun streak somewhere in their corporate soul.

It rewards the bold. The people who stepped forward, gave into their curiosity, and pushed that button not only received a free trip but an incredible story to tell. The company pushed a figurative mystery button in trying this idea, while the people pushed a literal button.

If you want interesting stories to tell, if you want some adventure in your life, you have to be willing to take some risks and push some buttons buttons – even if you don’t know what the heck they’ll do.