I am a firm believer that connecting people together is truly what makes the world go round.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, that person who will change your life is one serendipitous connection away. As I turn the page into the next three quarters of my life, I have given serious thought to how I can take my social connector passion to new horizons. Ones that can bring the right people together to increase happiness, accelerate learning, and open up new opportunities.
Throughout my first quarter century of life, I have had the unique opportunity to live the magic of both being connected with and connecting people to others. However, it wasn’t until both my 4000th Facebook friend connection and 26th birthday converged on the same day that I felt compelled to take a step back to reflect and think about how I want to approach the next three quarters of my life proactively connecting people.
Where It All Started
My obsession with connections started as soon as I was sent an exclusive invite to join Facebook in 2006 – my life instantly changed.
Facebook was introduced to me at an incredibly momentous time in my life where I took my first significant trip outside of North America. Facebook was the perfect way to share my photo memories from a life-changing summer trip to Israel that summer.
This new way to connect with the world online allowed me to make sure that I kept in touch with all the people I had shared so many unforgettable adventures with on my trip. I realized that I now had a tool to effectively capture both memories and connections that I knew I could not afford to lose – it felt like a new world of possibilities were instantly opened and I didn’t want to stop.
Facebook also happened right as I was going into my final year of highschool, which couldn’t have happened any sooner. As much as I enjoyed highschool, it made me feel like a caged animal with a burning hunger to break through the captivity of the highschool bubble and pounce on a world of new possibilities.
My longing for connection however started much before Facebook, it began when I moved from Mexico at the ripe age of four. In the early days, the combination of being diagnosed with ADHD and having english as a second language, came with its set of challenges. Most of my elementary school teachers would simply tell my parents that my social skills were not at the level of others and whether I would ever catch up was unknown. The end result for me was not feeling like a belonged nor that I was connected with the people around me – I was determined to not only change that for me, but for others around me.
The Power Of Connections – Connecting The Dots
Luckily, I finally caught up to everyone just as I started highschool. I caught up in a big way as I ventured into impactful experiences near the tail end of my teens with travelling, camp, and new ways to be educated – connecting with people just came more naturally. Throughout this process I had learned to funnel my extreme levels of energy into meaningful activities that revolved around engaging in new experiences and making new connections that broadened my view of the world. This turned into my mantra of making new connections through meaningful experiences.
Looking back, it turns out that the combined experiences of going to Jewish camp, joining a fraternity, studying business at UBC, playing rugby, being involved with student government, being a co-op and exchange student, and finally, creating a tech startup gives you the pleasure of connecting with an extremely interesting and diverse group of people.
As I take a moment to reverse engineer my experiences, I come to the stark realization that it was rarely ever my idea that discovered and conquered these experiences – I was always led by a connection.
Tangoo was never an idea that had manifested inside my mind, it was a good friend named Henry who sparked it and connected the dots with me. I didn’t get us on the map, Vancity Buzz did. I didn’t transform Tangoo into an app overnight; it was three other brilliant minds that stayed up all night rebuilding Tangoo from the ground up.
I didn’t think of going on Dragons’ Den, it was other people who pushed me to do it. It was Dustin Sproat who told us how to nail the audition and it was the whole Vancouver tech community who helped us prepare for it
Stepping outside of Tangoo, I repeat the same exercise for any other big moments in my life and it once again comes down to whom I met. Most of my most epic experiences, successes, and new connections have rooted from the knowledge and kindness of others. It all comes down to the doors that others help open for you combined with your willingness to be turn the door handle with an open mind.
Connections Lead To Serendipity
In 2012, as I walked into my final year at UBC, I started to realize how quickly Vancouver was shrinking and how interrelated the most seemingly unrelated things actually were. I first started to bump into people more and more, usually at the most opportune times. Times where it would lead to reconnecting over a coffee and then realizing that our paths were a lot more intertwined than we had originally thought. This is one thing that is easy to forget and foolish to ignore – your problems, dreams, and successes are usually not unique to you! There are other people out there that can help you and you just need to know how to steer the ship.
Leading up into my 25th year of walking this earth, I started to blend serendipity with reality. Everyday I run into people doing great things which I had no idea existed. They will be doing things that solve the problem of someone who I ran into just that same day. I also start to observe that as more people learn about my decision to take the hard and crazy entrepreneurial route in life, they open up a little more to me. They ask for help and offer to help me. They feel a little less crazy or insecure and open up. As the world becomes more entrepreneurial and our mindsets start to open up to things that we never thought as possible, connections between people happen more often and with more impact.
But at the same time, there are still so many missed opportunities where if both people don’t realize they can help each other they fall into the hands of serendipity which I don’t believe happens nearly enough – perhaps there is a way I can help others connect the dots. There are 4000 familiar faces to start with, and I think we can all learn a lot from this first experiment.
How Project 4000 Familiar Faces Works
Until very recently, I have started to piece together patterns in how people reach out for help and perhaps, you fall into one of the below categories. If you don’t, that’s fine, create your own category and let me know how I can connect you.
“Hey Paul, hope all is going well…you know I was hoping to get connected…”
- To learn about someone’s experience in a particular job, industry, or educational program
- To get connected with someone in the PR or investor worlds
- To connect with someone I can do business with
- To receive mentorship from someone who can guide me
- To get connected with someone local who lives in my new city
- To learn more about someone I have matched with on Tinder – I see we’re mutual friends
There are many other reasons people ask to get connected and I am always fascinated with people’s curiosities and open minds. I always try to make sure that the connection will be mutually beneficial as relationships always go both ways even if one-side benefits more initially – it’s called good karma.
From what will start exclusively within my 4000 Facebook friends, I believe I can connect you with someone who will help, inspire, or make you happier than you were yesterday. They are just one degree of separation away and with your boldness to ask for help, you’ll be on my ever-evolving list.
Thank you for reading on and help me, help you. Be open to ask for help by including others in your life path and trust that in the future, they will help you connect the dots.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
― Steve Jobs
How to Get Connected
Send me a Facebook message with the kind of person you would like to meet with and I will keep track of this and make an introduction when I see the proper fit. Feel free to get as specific and thorough as you like, the more information I have on who you want to meet the better. If you already know exactly who you want to meet, perfect, I can reach out immediately.*
*Getting connected through 4000 Familiar Faces is of course free and I cannot guarantee a connection every time however, it’s worth a shot – what do you have to lose?