Lets get a few things out the way first:
1) I hate people.
2) I travel a fair bit.
3) I have a new girlfriend who is one time-demanding bitch.
Near the end of 2009, my friend Gary Vaynerchuck came to Colorado for a book signing. I offered to ferry him about for the day, and brought him up to Boulder so he could see what we were up to. We spent a good part of that day talking about the things that are important.
And by the time I dropped him at the airport around midnight, it was clear what was important.
Now, you can look at this in several ways. Startups arent empty shells. People come up with the ideas. People execute on the ideas. Social Media isnt a set of tools, its how people use those tools in their lives and work.
When I traveled, most of the time, it was for a speaking engagement (I think I did around 20 in 2009), where I saw it as a performance. I had a responsibility to the people that were taking their time to listen to me and my message. And whether it was Gnomedex where I had 10 minutes or Big Omaha, where I ended up on stage for around an hour, my feelings of responsibility were the same. My questions were always the same two: Did they enjoy themselves, and did they get out of it what they expected?
As the year progressed, I started to see a change in me. I started to meet people. A lot of people. Now Chris Brogan, who travels more than me, speaks more than me, and is generally just more than me, says he met around 10,000 new people in 2009. I would bet my number has to be in the 5,000 -7,000 range, because most everyone was new to me, and I was new to them. To put it in perspective, when I first joined Lijit at the end of 2007, the first person I reached out to was Chris. He quickly became a mentor and friend, and it was with great excitement that I spoke with Chris on a panel at Twiistup in LA.
As I met more and more people, and saw how much I was learning from these interactions, I began to realize something, the primary component missing from these interactions was time. I was spending so little time with people that I was just getting flavors of them and what they have to offer.
Now its 2010. Im back to running my own company again. We have a lot of exciting things coming up, and (I hoped) I would be traveling less. (Not sure if that will happen, given I have 3 trips already planned in January). I decided that this year, I would speak at less conferences, maybe a 1/2 dozen or so maximum, and rather than trying to meet EVERYONE, I would try to create greater opportunity to spend real time with people.
So I thought that I would make a list of the people I wanted to spend more time with this year. I would write a blog post about it, and say here is my list. I resolve to spend more time with the people on the list, but I realized the folly of that. Its not about the people on the list, its about creating more time and increasing the priority of interaction in my life.
So thats my resolution. I am going to make it a priority to take the time to find the time to spend extended time with people. I have lived in public for a long time. My phone number, email address, twitter account, facebook account, etc are all pretty easy to come by.
I hope that people feel welcome to contact me and set up time to connect when I am nearby, since I am certainly going to do the same. Last year I felt I often was sneaking into and out of cities given how compressed my time was. This year, I am going to set aside several “hang time” hours on every trip to provide opportunity for real connection.
2010 is the year of people.