There she was. The woman I’d been waiting to meet from the minute I signed-up for this whole thing. I slid into the seat right next to her and started to introduce myself, the space between us allowed no decent breathing room for our shoulders.
Before you assume these are my "Creepy Tales of Tinder Stalking," I’ll be clear: they are not. This is the story of how I met my most recent peer mentor and friend - a media and business icon in the making.
I found out she would be speaking to small groups during a workshop at a conference in Los Angeles, and I decidedly booked a flight and ticket. Then, I signed my name to the bottom of the list where hers was written boldly on top as the “Group Leader.” My strategy was simple: Meet her. Support her. Learn. Grow.
Fast forward almost a year later: she and I are building a strong relationship and discussing potential collaborations.
This is how I have formed a number of my adult friendships and mentor relationships.
Granted, some of my friends like to call me a “creeper.” And while I am known to have a ridiculous number of pictures of my friends saved in my phone, it comes from a good place. (So sue me. And if I ever hand you my phone, in the words of the great philosopher Aubrey Graham, “don’t keep scrolling to the left, because you may see some things you don’t want to see.” Like, a really funny saved selfie of you with Snapchat dog ears.) I can be very strategic about the people I surround myself with, because I want relationships with those who inspire me to be better.
So, there are two ways to play the game of getting what you want and building relationships with who you want. You can sit on the sidelines with half a pint of hope and call yourself names like “creeper” and “loser.” Or you can go after your #squadgoals with a little gumption. If you’re down for the latter, here are some folks you may want to put on your #goals list this year.
The Person You Want to Be in 5-10 Years: There are a million ways to figure out how to get where you want to be in life and in business. But there’s no better way than talking to the person who has already done it. Learn from their roadmap. Figure out what they failed at and why. And ask what really worked for them. Not only is this smart, it’s efficient. Re-inventing the wheel? Ain’t nobody got time for that. Not to mention, if you make to sure to establish a mutually beneficial relationship (read: you don’t just ask and take, but you give and give and give, and then make a minor ask) that person will likely help position you for faster growth by introducing you to a whole new world of people, places and things.
The One Who’s Always Rooted for You: Assuming you’ve been doing what you’re doing for a while now - writing, designing, teaching, running a business, or whatever else it may be - you probably have some fans. And remember, fans come in all shapes, sizes and relationships. It could be the person who always comments on your Instagram, or the friend who always promotes your work, or the customer who keeps coming back… or your mom. Whoever that person (or people, if you’re nasty - go girl!) may be, make time for them this year. Learn what you do well in their eyes and what they want to see more of from you. This type of support is invaluable and should be nurtured. That means giving your best to the people who give you their best and catering to their needs and feedback. Turn off the haters and turn on the supporters. They will drive your success this year.
The Challenger: Wait, what? Why would I recommend you seek out someone who is going to actively challenge you and create stress in your life? I wouldn’t. However, I would suggest you embrace the person in your life who is forcing you to answer hard questions and make difficult decisions. Here’s why: in 2016, I met my match. It was the one person who truly called into question everything I thought I was up until now. And while my first inclination was to run for the hills, against my fear and anxiety, I met with her, sat down, and listened. I asked her where her criticisms came from and what I could do better. I wrestled with my own ego and heart to figure out where she was right and where I needed to stand firm in my convictions. And it was a mental workout. I emerged ten pounds mentally lighter with a stronger understanding of myself, my personal and professional vision, and my abilities. Meet with the person who will put you through the ringer. A trainer. A teacher. A no nonsense coach. Or the one you’ve been butting heads with for too many years. You will emerge from the situation better, every time.