Nice to meet you

If you had the opportunity to meet someone meaningful to you, who would it be? Let’s say you get the one in a life time chance of meeting your idol, your guide, your inspiration, could you name this person? There may be interesting people you’d like to meet and you start looking for a way of meeting a special person… or maybe you just prefer to stay in your comfort zone and don’t want to risk a disappointment…

Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados

Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados

Let’s suppose you know of a guy who has a very old car, hasn’t got many days vacation, but has a great wish. He wants to meet the person who has inspired him to become a good teacher and to motivate the youth to follow their ideals.  This is the story of an English teacher in South Spain living in the sixties who desperately wanted to talk to the one and only John, John Lennon. On his way he offers a ride to two young people, who could even be his pupils, and starts his journey from Central Spain to the South. It’s a funny, warm, original story to be seen in the movie “Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados”, from David Trueba.

 

Javier Cámara plays the teacher, Natalia de Molina the young woman and Francesc Colomer, the boy. Thanks to a very good friend of mine, I could watch the German premiere of this film during the Munich Film Festival.

David Trueba

David Trueba, Film Festival Munich

Link to the Film

Who would I like to meet? And especially what for? To talk about what? Would I have the guts to talk and ask questions or would I just stare at my idol? Good questions and no easy answers. Would I like to meet a writer? Maybe, but if I think of many of them, I see them when they are famous and a little bit arrogant. I was thinking about Oscar Wilde, Ernst Hemingway, Johann Goethe, Miguel de Cervantes or William Shakespeare… Maybe a woman would be more interesting and less imposing to me… Mmmm, the feminist who didn’t consider herself one, Simone de Beauvoir? Or may be a contemporary writer of crime novels like Elizabeth George? Or maybe the Lady of Crime Agatha Christie?

Thinking of more altruistic topics, would I maybe like to have met Mother Theresa or Mahatma Gandhi? Mmmm, I don’t know, and I couldn’t imagine what to say. Let’s try another field: politics. How about having met Indira Gandhi or Margaret Thatcher or even Hillary Clinton or the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel? Well, difficult to tell. Some male politicians, let’s see… Obama, Clinton (but not alone in his office ;-)) or some rather unpopular like Vladimir Putin? Mmmm, the name makes me think of fiction. How about meeting someone who only exists in fiction… Dracula or Mr. Darcy? Oh, and I forgot to mention the scientists par excellance, Albert Einstein, Madame Curie, or  Dr. Koch? Mmm, I still don’t know.

Do you really have one public person that has inspired you that much? Apple fans wouldn’t doubt and would arrange a meeting with Steve Jobs whereas the opposite party would immediately say, nonsense, let’s talk to Bill Gates. In the financial area, you would maybe think of an interview with Warren Buffet or in Germany, with the founders of the successful chain Aldi, North and South…

We all have our preferences and some artistic persons would maybe chose a painter or a musician or orchestra director. However, I still find it  very difficult to decide what I would like to ask to or talk about with that person.

Now let’s make it more difficult. Let’s suppose that you are given 10 minutes to talk to whomever you would like to, ignoring distances, time, countries and other physical impediments, who would you like to spend those 10 minutes with?… The chosen one would know the weight and importance they may have in your life. Would you decide based on love, your job, admiration, importance, curiosity?

What questions would you ask? I hope you’re not thinking of getting the autograph of a pop star… or the used socks of a guitar player… Yuk!

Sometimes we have exactly 10 minutes to say something nice, something meaningful to someone at our side, let it be a loved one, a colleague, a neighbor or someone we have just met. How often do we rather stay still and don’t say anything at all?

Thinking about this I remember another film I saw during the Film Festival in Munich, it is called ‘the Seagull’ and is inspired on the play by Anton Tchechov. The plot is transported to New England and it shows how a family interacts without really communicating. Many truths are kept hidden and things that had to be said are never mentioned. This leads to a knot in the relationships and a very conflicted familiar situation.

There was a first filmed version inspired on the play from 1968 directed by Sidney Lumet, but the critics weren’t that good. This new version was released in the US in Spring 2014 directed by Christian Camargo with an interesting cast. The film is also known as “Days and Nights” and was filmed in Connecticut showing New England of the 80’s.. The cast and crew lived all there and got to get the surrounding very well. Even the music producer, Claire van Kampen, lived there and managed to create an impressive musical setting for the picture integrating the physical atmosphere by the lake with the sounds of a warm cello.

Link to the Film The Sea Gull

Back to communication and talking in a family. There are families in which there is a continuous flow of words, meaningless, but continuous. How many long time couples have you observed that have long conversations about absurd themes like ‘the color of the stone that will be laying close to the entrance door’ Topics that may cause distress or pain are not addressed or only slightly touched, like a breeze…

Addressing and talking about distressing topics, mainly about feelings, is usually difficult and requires a lot of courage. Some people go through life dodging difficulties and running away from pain and trouble.

To be able to grow we need to bravely put on with difficulties and if they involve more the one, trying to talk and listening to all parties.

Does this sound very dogmatic? It may… But looking around, even at a level where world conflicts, like the Gaza Conflict and the problems between Ucrania and Russia, are threatening our peace, we should remember this…

Have a communicative time!

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Do you wanna network?

The word network has been developing at a very fast pace. If we look at the beginnings, a network was a compound of threads used to catch fish…

fisher net

Fisher net

Some decades ago the term started shifting to a technical meaning. At that time we started to get connected by cables, literally. We were part of a LAN or a W-LAN at work and we used the existing telephone cables to reach our service providers and access the Internet. With our modern technology we are now able to access the Internet wireless. In many cities we find free wi-fi access in many public places. We are able to be connected to the world every time and the “world” can reach us every day, every time.

Networking is not only physical. A network is formed by people that are in some kind related to us. Belonging to our network we consider our family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, ex-peers, ex… whatever. The network exists by itself, but if we want, we can dedicate time and care and we can tend it as if it were a garden.

Is this a phenomenon of our modern way of life? Of course not, but the weight we give to the different relationships has shifted. Our main network used to be the family, in some countries it still is and all close or not so close relatives are included. Friends are the next in row and depending of where you live, a big anonymous city or a small town, the community and neighbors are part of the network. We usually ask family members, friends or neighbors, if the know of someone who could fix our tap or paint the walls. Some of us prefer to rely on the knowledge of others and ask more often for “help”. Others tend do exaggerate their independence and almost never ask. Good and bad networkers? What does it require to be a good networker?  A network is interconnected, the information or impulses flow from one knot to the next, if there is a hole or a lot of knots are obstructing the flow, then its not stable. How is it then with a human network?

As I was mentioning before, there are good and not so effective networkers… Do you have to be outgoing to be a good networker? No, not really.  Does it have to do with openness and communication? To be able to get the most out of your network you need to open and share. That doesn’t mean going to the next party and telling the funniest jokes aloud. However, being a good networker means to share knowledge and help to connect two or more members who would profit from this connection. Some of you may feel that they are using people, if they ask for a favor or help, while others may be feeling used, if they are always being asked for favors and get no retribution. This is also one of the main points, the networking relation has to be reciprocal, not exactly always returning or almost dying in the intent of returning a favor someone did. Reciprocal means that you sometimes give while other times you take.

Can we simply trust everyone we know? Can I trust everyone I will encounter on my way and? No, of course not.  You will have to learn to use your antenna and trust your inner voice while trying to get to know the person.  How about people I meet online? Are they to be trusted? Same as in the real world, start to communicate and you will be able to decide… (Hopefully…)

I personally think that networking has never been easier. We can reactivate our old schoolmates via Facebook or even find international contacts for our businesses via LinkedIn. And remember, the point is to network, not to make friends 😉 like those 1000 or more “friends” that some people have in Facebook.

There are other ways of networking… Other ideas to enlarge your network would be to join groups with similar interests as your own, for example for those library rats among us, you could join a book club or even organize one, online or in real, as you prefer.  If you prefer sports, then you could join the Saturday Bike Club or the Alpine Club (ironically there are only real Alps in some countries of this wide world…)

Do I start networking everywhere and with everyone? If you feel alone, this may be the way, but usually it is easier, if you have a defined goal while addressing your contacts. If you don’t have a defined goal you can just keep in touch saying ‘hi’ or wishing Merry Christmas once in a while.

If we remember the way people in smaller towns used to live. It wasn’t that easy to communicate without seeing the person physically. However, towns or neighborhood were some kind of network. You went to the hairdresser and you heard the latest savory gossip of the village (sorry, hairdresser friends, for using this classical example making you think that all hairdressers like to gossip 😉 )

sims small talking

Small talk, Sims 3

You went to the market place in your neighborhood and you would also be informed of what was going on. Walmart or the supermarket saves us time because we don’t have to go to several different shops, but we cannot have a small chat with the grocer’s. And our haircut maybe done in one of those fast impersonal chains once here once there. We can spend hours and hours online watching videos or playing games, but without really communicating with others.

Are there cultural differences in the way we network? Are there gender differences? Are men better networkers because there are many men who are more self-confident?

I’ve noticed that it is easier to start a small talk in some cultures than in others.  This doesn’t mean that all Americans are this way and all Germans are the other… However, it is very helpful to know what topics may be more accepted or easier to small talk with a Korean. Would you be afraid to start the talking? I think this is a big issue for many people… How can I start talking to a stranger? What will he or she think about me? I think that is the main point. Some of us are very aware and afraid of what others think of us or may think of us. We don’t want to be criticized, if we ask something dumb or if we make a mistake while speaking another language. However, this impediments are almost only in our heads… in our view… There may be a lot of judgy people, but they’ll judge anyway, and maybe they are just that way because they are also afraid of ‘losing their face’. This point has also very deep roots in some cultures. Others take it more lightly.

If you need inspiration fro networking, take a look at a practical and funny article on http://www.wikihow.com/Network.

So, let’s network and make some comments!