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Ice Cream Social Media Breakfast with @robs10kfriends

Social Media Breakfast w/ Rob Lawless aka Robs10kfriends

Posted by Kismet Cowork – Chestnut Hill on Thursday, February 14, 2019

Meet 10,000 people for 10 minutes.

This was Rob Lawless‘ original big idea. It came in college when he dreamed of gaining widespread media coverage for the project and “never having to work a day in his life,” after that. Rob laughed, noting the naivety of this initial plan.

After graduation, he moved from Norristown to Northern Liberties in Philadelphia and worked for Deloitte and RJ Metrics, a tech startup in Philly. Allowing the 10k idea to marinate, Rob shifted his focus from quick success to genuine connection. Rather than meeting each person for just 10 minutes, he decided to meet with each person for a full hour.

He cites the common idea, “If you do something for 10,000 hours, you’re an expert in that field” as his inspiration for choosing that number. Working in sales, Rob was already accustomed to calling up strangers and asking them questions, so that was no issue. Aside from just meeting new people, he was motivated to explore different subcultures and discover who was there/what they were up to – music, food, politics, and countless other spheres of Philly influence would be uncovered.

Making it up as he went along, Rob booked his first few meetings, and slowly, his idea took flight. He progressed from a couple of meetings per week to several per day and is now well on his way to 10,000 meetings.

“I’ll meet someone at 10:00 a.m., Noon, 3:00, and 4:00.” After a typical morning meeting, Rob moves his car (because he’s usually in a pesky 2-hr parking spot), eats his lunch, and writes the story of the person he just met. The writing itself only takes about 20-30 minutes, he says.

“As I’m meeting with someone I’m writing their story in my mind, but also listening to them … My brain has gotten better at actively downloading information from people.”

The themes of each meeting are often unpredictable, and a quote toward the end of a chat can change the whole meaning of a person’s story. Rob has noticed how easy it is for people to make assumptions about those they don’t know – and end up being wrong.

He talks about one interviewee’s personal account of a severe accident – one that left him with a 12% chance of survival. Based on outer appearances alone, you’d never guess that this was his backstory. As Rob sees it, this is the value of meeting and engaging with people one-on-one. You learn what you never could have guessed about someone, and how these experiences shaped them.

Eventually, Rob was laid off by the company he worked for and decided to take his 10k project full time.

It began as a simple idea, but the path has led to a variety of experiences he otherwise would’ve never had, like surfing, playing baseball with strangers, and (nervously) flying over the U.S coast in an aircraft one of his interviewees built.

At the time of this Social Media Breakfast, Rob had already met with 2,412 people and many more are scheduled.

Rob frames Instagram as a simple byproduct of what he’s doing – The follower count doesn’t determine the success or failure of the project. This was something he decided early on, teetering on just 100 IG followers.

At one point, a glitch caused his account to lose 600 followers in a day, all of whom reappeared the following morning.

In this sense, entrepreneurship and social media can be a rollercoaster of ups and downs, confidence surges and doubt spirals. Rob has learned to pay attention to follower counts because his livelihood somewhat depends on it. But ultimately, he says, “I don’t care.” He hopes that the focus will primarily rest on the human connections forged through his meetings, not the attention his account is getting. He’s in it for the long haul.

“This project should take me about 10 more years.”

Rob talks about the ups and downs in more detail, like interviewing famous people and nearly working with 60 Second Docs and Upworthy, only to have the projects fall through. He’s learned to move through both disappointments and exciting times in a grounded way, continuing his meetings regardless of how he is feeling in the moment.

Rob talks about how sponsorship developed organically, sharing his message on college campuses, and how to get involved in the community he’s building. Check out the full talk above!


Kismet’s Ice Cream Social Media Discussion is open to small business owners looking to better understand and expand their brand voice, creative professionals who want to share and talk about social media insights, and anyone interested in social media. Follow us on Facebook to find out what’s next!