Rob is in the middle of a very interesting project....to meet 10,000 friends! Why is he doing this and what does he hope to accomplish? It's a lofty goal but with an important mission. Friends, let me introduce you to Rob...
Back in November, 2015 Rob found himself in a big city with a small town personality. He remembers being in college at PSU and growing up in the suburbs. Small communities where it is easy to bump into people you know and hold that feeling of unity and fitting in. Uprooted and now living in the heart of Philadelphia, Rob found himself a small fish swimming in a very big sea. He struggled with how to make those same connections he was able to back in the small college town.
Rob decided to make it his mission to make 10K friends. He could have easily decided on 100 or 1000 - I think we would all agree that would be an achievement in itself. Rob, however decided this was his opportunity to do something cool with his life. If you want to develop relationships, a sense of community, and make a statement, why not aim high!
In choosing such a large number, it gives me time to build the project into a movement that I can turn into my life's work. I want to be the old man who can look back on his life and say 'I was that guy that did that thing.'
As of today, Rob is on friend #667. Not bad when you consider he has only been doing this for about a year. When you consider all the unique people walking our planet, each with our own set of baggage and circumstances, you can truly learn a lot just but taking the time to stop and listen to someone. Needless to say Rob has been witness to many happy, sad, joyful and painful stories. Rob states "in meeting with everyone from homeless people to college students to artists to CEO's, I've learned that my life could have fallen into any of these paths. Hearing about the experiences of others makes me incredibly appreciative of the life and upbringing that I've been afforded."
One of the stories that has touched me the most was that of Roz Pichardo (#574). When she was 16, her ex boyfriend tried to kill her out of jealousy of her current boyfriend, who he then murdered. When she was 21, her twin sister committed suicide. Then in 2012, her younger brother was murdered. Her stepdad was so upset by the murder that he used to say he wished he'd go to bed and not wake up, then one day that's exactly what happened. For someone who has been through so much trauma, Roz uses her life to support the families of other victims of murder and, at the time we met, was giving an extra room in her house to a homeless man, John, who needed shelter. Her actions were incredibly inspirational
I often advocate for people to do something, anything, to share some love. It is easy to get caught up in the "but I don't have any skills to offer", or "my small actions really can't make a difference." Rob is a great example of using the gifts you are given and letting them guide you. Who knew that the simple act of talking to people would make a difference in the world. But it has! When I look at Rob's Instagram feed I am touched by the amount of interaction he has with his followers. He is telling real life stories that people can relate to, be inspired by and grow from. Rob's friend #580, Meredith Hankins shared her story of going through a divorce and her ex being one of her best friends. Someone commented "I love seeing this! I am currently going through a similar situation and it is crazy how many people think my future ex husband and myself are absolutely crazy because we are still friends and spend time with each other." People crave connection and validation. Rob is providing a space for that.
Make sure to join along on Rob's journey making new friends. You can find him on Instagram, Facebook, or his website. And remember, to be a Personal Hero, you don't need to single handedly change the world. Just look within at the talents and gifts you currently possess and see how you can use them to touch someone else's life.