Monday Seven No. 036
On making adult friends
Welcome to the latest edition of Monday Seven — actionable ideas and frameworks for those of us who seek more out of life and work.
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I woke up at sunrise in a panic. I thought I had missed writing to you.
Last week, we moved into a home on five acres which we bought sight unseen in April. When we bought it, I joked with my partner that it’s either going to be the smartest or stupidest decision we’ve ever made. After seeing the place for the first time, it very much feels like the former. I also recently shared that I joined the On Deck team to lead Canada. I’m incredibly excited about both of these life events, but it has also meant this has been a demanding time.
Moving back and forth across the country over the past few years has meant that I’ve had to learn to make adult friends. And it seems like I am not the only one. I keep seeing the question come up and thought to share a couple of ways. As we emerge from lockdowns and interact with strange humans again, it’s time we relearned how to make deliberate friendships.
The truth is, making adult friends is hard. But there are two ideas I’d like to share.
Let’s get into it.
The Jefferson Dinner —
I was never invited to Thomas J. Jefferson’s for dinner, but according to the internet he used to host intellectual dinners in his home. They’re a great way to make friends.
Here’s how it works:
Invite 6 to 8 guests. You want enough people to engage in a single conversation.
Aim for diversity. The group should represent diversity critical to your topic. Conversations between people who are just the same can lack tension that sparks thoughtful discourse. You want vulnerability to really get to know someone.
Choose a topic. It can be something you want to learn more about, you’re fascinated by, or a challenge you’re facing. Just don’t make it all about yourself. The guests should have a common interest.
Share the topic and icebreaker ahead of time. Share an icebreaking question with your guests ahead of the dinner. As the purpose of the evening is for people to really get to know each other, you want to give guests time to prepare.
Remember one rule. There is only a single conversation at a time. The speaker talks and everyone listens. Avoid talking over each other and side conversations.
The dinner starts with guest stories. Each person shares a personal reflection on the icebreaker question you posed ahead of the dinner.
As the host, you should come prepared with 5 to 7 questions that you might pose to deepen the conversation as it progresses. Let the conversation flow where the passion goes. Your role is to make people connect with each other.
In the end, give each guest the chance to share something they learned, a big idea, or something they plan to dig deeper on. After dinner, follow up to share contacts.
For the next dinner, pick the most engaging conversationalist and invite them to co-host with you. Once you host these dinners every couple of months, you’ll soon build a crew of interesting friends anywhere you live.
Non-Book Clubs —
Book clubs require everyone to read the same book. It can be hard to rally a group around a single book. But, if we get rid of the constraint of everyone reading the same book, conversations centered around books can be quite fascinating.
Non-Book Clubs still bring people together around a love of books, but free from the constraint of having to read the same thing. Here’s how they work:
Groups of 3-5 people
Each person spends 5 minutes talking about a book they love
Discuss for half-hour
The conversation flows naturally with the books acting as the central theme
You create space for learning, vulnerability, and intimate conversation
Host these regularly and invite different people as you meet them.
Tweet of the week —
Music of the week —
Unlocked Dreams Session V by Arc of Music (Soundcloud)
Quote of the week —
“If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happened better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.” — Mary Oliver from Swan: Poems and Prose Poems (emphasis mine)
Thanks for reading. Whether you enjoyed this newsletter or not, I’d really appreciate it if you leave a comment below and let me know what you think.
The next time you’ll hear from me will be Monday, June 21.
I'll join your Jefferson dinner if you promise to ban talking about the pandemic and vaccines.