Why I've been dating men in San Francisco and why you should too, for the sake of your country
Alex asked me out for lunch one of the first days of having moved to San Francisco last year. We sat down at a table at Loving Hut, a vegan place on Stockton, and he smiled that Yale smile, looked deep into my eyes and asked if there was anything he could do for me. I hadn't expected him to pop the question. "Anything!" he repeated, like if would widen my thinking. The dating couple at the next table fell silent. Maybe they we're out of topics to discuss. Maybe did they think the same thing of us. I said that I honetly couldn't think of anything right now but Alex seemed to misinterpret my hesitation as a sign that I was about to ask for something big. "Come on! You moved here from Stockholm! You got to want something while in San Francusco and I'd love to help you, introduce you some guys I know.
Were it only for the access to capital and the geographical proximity to other innovative companies, the magic recipe for innovation that has given San Francisco and Silicon Valley its reputation would have been copied decades ago. But the Bay Area equivalent to the secret sauce in the Big Mac is the generous attitude of sharing knowledge. We might know what goes in to the sauce but it is really hard to copy.
Alex wouldn't take my no for an answer. A few days later, he emailed me and suggested that I date a guy called Jerry over lunch.Jerry was copied on the email and as I read Alex description of that wonderful intelligent human being that was me, I blushed. When I read Alex description of that wonderful intelligent human being that was Jerry, I felt I wanted to meet him at once.. Alex ended his email with "I hope you paths will cross if they haven't already". To my surprise, Alex had no intention of attending the date himself, which is a very Unswedish thing to do. (The fact that Alex is from the US might explain that, though.)
I love connecting people that I think can benefit from knowing each other. But in the past, I've accepted full responsibility for their encounter, from arranging their first meeting to being present on their first date as a big brother watching over his teen sister. In San Francisco I realized that this behavior is completely unnecessary; curious people love meeting new people in order to explore what they have in common.
I met Jerry over a white mocha at Starbucks on Sansome. He's heading of some kind of exclusive think-thank for C-suite hot shots and we almost instantly hit it of and engaged in a discussion on how they view sustainability. After half-an-hour, during a brief pause, he leaned over the table and asked with that deep voice of his if there was anything I wished he would do for me.
This time, I was more prepared and said I'd be interested in meeting someone who was liberal and offered the opportunity to pay for the services that they provided? Did he maybe know of someone open mindedwho had explored new ways of making money producing content for online audiences? He thought for a few seconds before he displayed a confident smile and said "I think I know of someone who will be right up your alley."
Three days later, I had an email from Jerry where he wrote that he thought that Neal and I would like eachother. Jerry ended his email "I hope you roads will cross soon if they haven already done so".
We met over coffee at the Blue Bootle Coffee in a back in Soma and soon realized that Jerry was right. We did like eachother. Neal Gorenflo is the founder and editor of an online magazine called Shareable.net and fills his days thinking, writing and speaking of the phenomena of sharing. Beyond a new aquantance, I left the coffee shop with new thoughts, new names and a new perspective on looking on how we connect people. No more than I need to follow up to see if a friend has read the magazine I gave her, no more do I need to assume responsibility for if two friends kept in touch or not after meeting over that lunch I suggested. As Neal reminded me "sharing is caring" and just doing that is enough. It's a way of showing that you care rather than delegating a task that requires following up on.
Malin, who introduced me to a great new Swedish service lunchaihop.se (havelunchtogether) is ironically someone who I got introduced to and during that lunch date, I hired her on the spot. Based on your LinkedIn-network, lunchaihop.se, makes it easier than ever to introduce people that one thinks would benefit from the. I'm convinced this is the kind of service that makes us become as generous with sharing connections in the physical world as we are sharing URL:es in the digital space. And by learning sharing this way in our own city or our own country, will get a step closer to emulating the sharing culture that has fostered so much innovation of San Francisco.
Nowadays, I end all my introduction emails to people I connect with "I hope you paths will cross if they haven't already" as an homage to Alex who introduced me to a way of setting up lunch dates, Bay Area-style.