April 13, 2009

The "Million Dollar" Challenge

In my new book, What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20, I quote my friend and colleague Carlos Vignolo from the University of Chile who says, "If you go somewhere and don’t meet someone new, you have certainly missed out on making a friend as well as on the possibility of making a million dollars." He tells his students that every time they walk onto a city bus, a million dollars is waiting there for them — they just have to find it. In this case “a million dollars” is a metaphor for learning something new, making a friend, or, indeed, making a million dollars.

So, here is my challenge to you... The next time you go somewhere - the grocery store, an airport, your neighborhood restaurant, or when you ride a city bus - make a point of meeting someone new and figuring out how you can extract something valuable from that encounter. I'm confident that if you make a habit of doing this, you will find that incredible opportunities present themselves every day.

Feel free to post a comment with your experiences. It will be fascinating to see the range of responses... Perhaps someone will find a million dollars, or something worth just as much.


Deborah said...

I agree! Towards the end of my 1st quarter of studying abroad in Italy, I wished a classmate farewell and a safe journey back to the US. She had expressed some sadness in her departure because she had somewhat regretted not meeting ANYBODY new for her entire 3 months studying in Florence. I couldn't believe it! Not a SINGLE person. I asked, "Why?!" She said, "Well, It's not like I was staying long or anything...what's the point? I'll be leaving soon anyways and I just wanted to see XYZ cities.." Although I had met quite a number of people in the year I was abroad in Europe, my "Million Dollar" encounter was Ken, a Japanese student from Tokyo, who had come to Florence to learn Italian Cuisine. We've been great friends ever since and his family welcomes me everytime I'm in Japan to stay as a guest. He owns a couple of ramen shops in Tokyo, but I may help him expand them into a franchise in the US. Maybe we'll make a million dollars? :)

Tina said...

Great story! Thanks for posting it for all to see.

Cory Levy said...

This might be off track...but last summer, I (along with two of my friends) spent three weeks doing a summer study at CU. Long story short, my friends and I knew we needed to meet other kids to have a good time. We especially became close (best friends) with three kids from New York.

Two weeks after the summer study ended, we didn't want our friendship to end, so we planned a "reunion" in New York. My friends happened to live in the Hamptons...so I got to spend a week in the Hamptons, which was a blast!

Jgall said...

Superb advice! A few years ago during a summer internship in the Bay Area I attended a talk, and not knowing anyone else engrossed myself in my lab notebook. The gentleman sitting next to me introduced himself, and after a minute we found out we both attended the same university in Southern California. He was finishing a PhD, and I was completing my undergraduate work. We still keep in contact today and compare notes on our professional experiences since graduating. Lesson learned, you are bound to meet very interesting individuals if you simply give them a chance.