The Conversation Guy

musings from a guy who likes to work any crowd

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A Greek Restaurant and a Matchmaker…

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Taverna CretekouSo, a friend of mine started the Ah-Yeah Restauranting Club, which brings different people together to go to a different restaurant once a month where people sit next to a new person or someone they don’t know well. About 15 of us met this past Friday at Taverna Cretekou, a Greek restaurant in Old town Alexandria, VA. I had a lamb kabob which was very good, but I didn’t eat any of the appetizers because I was too busy talking and didn’t get to eat any before they took them away :).

At first, I tried to sit next to the one person in the group I hadn’t met yet, but I ended up sitting next to someone I know, but don’t talk to that often… And it proved to be an interesting conversation. So, little did I know, she currently works as a professional “matchmaker” for Premier Match (www.premiermatchmaking.com), which to be honest, I was surprised by, and I was curious to find out what it was – after all, I am still single 🙂 – and why she worked for them. I saw the opportunity for a fun conversation, because I was able to bluntly ask her a lot of questions. As someone who is fascinated with different human interactions, I was curious to dive into this topic, admitting that I always thought of dating services as artificial. It is definitely more advanced than typical dating websites. It’s actually mostly offline. So, the way it works is someone starts with a brief phone interview and then a 3 hour long in-person interview. If they agree to take you on as client, it is a fairly high fee, but it’s a one-time cost, and they’ll work with you until you find the right relationship. They work primarily with busy professionals in New York, Washington, and Philadelphia. And – interestingly enough – they refund your money if you get married to someone you met through Premier Match. I asked her a lot of questions as a friend, like how do you know that someone is who they say they are since people would try to put their best foot forward in the beginning. She said they do extensive background checks and interviews and stay involved in the process, talking to each person after dates to get feedback and coach them along the way. She said it’s designed so that each participant will learn a lot about themselves through the process because they will share feedback from those you meet with on what they did and didn’t like about you – a 360 degree feedback loop.

In the beginning interviews, they ask about your goals, personality, and character to try to get to know you and see if you’re someone they would trust. She said they take on a personal approach and that she and the owner wouldn’t take on a client they wouldn’t be comfortable with dating their sister (or brother). So, we chatted more about different aspects about it. But one question I had was that “shouldn’t folks just meet people along the way while doing things that are important to them?” Her response was that some people are so busy and focused that they don’t have time to meet a lot of people to find ones that they would be interested in getting to know more. That is why they would use their service, which comprehensively tries to get to know each person in order to match them with people they would be interested in. They said they try to set up each meeting in a way that they can ensure a high chance of at least an enjoyable time – even if it doesn’t result in a relationship. I will say that their organization sounds different than any other that I’ve heard about – and I was impressed when they said if they have people that are not meeting their expectations or if they sense they have unhealthy motives, they’ll decline to continue working with them and refund their money. Anyway, despite being kind of turned off to dating services, I wanted to give her an opportunity to respond to all my skeptical questions and try to understand some other perspectives, because that’s what conversations are all about. It’s always interesting when you’re open to different conversations about anything… After that conversation concluded and I had eaten my kabob, I did get to make to the end of the table and still have a good chat with the guy I hadn’t met before – he’s a writer from New York and we had a good discussion about life, politics and food and exchanged information to stay in touch.

If you’re in the DC area and want to join us at the next Ah-Yeah Restauranting club dinner, email me at theconversationguy@gmail.com. And, as always, feel free to join in the conversation by commenting or shooting me an email.

Until next time,
– The Conversation Guy

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Written by theconversationguy

October 28, 2009 at 12:13 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Three Girls and a Salsa Club

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Needless to say, I had a great seat at dinner :)

Needless to say, I had a great seat at dinner 🙂

So, I’m a little late at posting this… last Friday night, I went to a surprise birthday party (Happy Birthday again, Anthony). It was at Havanna Village in Adams Morgan (NW DC) – dinner & salsa dancing was on the agenda. My friend, Anthony works in the policy/political field (and I do as well), and that is true for many of Anthony’s other friends there. But to be completely honest, while I can talk about politics, I enjoy talking about other random things a well – like just learning stuff about people. I chatted with someone who was an Ear, Nose, Throat Doctor who explained how sinus surgery works (makes me thankful that I haven’t had to have it). Anyway, when it came to sitting down, I told Anthony’s girlfriend, Alex, who hosted the party (the one with her head above the other three in the top left photo), that I wanted to sit next to people I didn’t know… so she sat me with her three close friends from law school (top left – thanks, Alex!), which, made me the bridge between the ladies and the guys (in photo below). And I was already good friends with three of the guys, so according to my goal of talking to mostly new people… looks like I was going to talk with the ladies 🙂 … Erin (bottom left – from up state New York), Amanda (bottom middle – from New Jersey), and Rachael (bottom right – from Newfoundland, Canada). Alex had already introduced me to Erin, so I was able to chat with her, but then a minute or so after the others got there, I introduced myself and we all began chatting.

My challenge was that they were all close friends – and, well I (at first) was a total stranger (and a guy – trying to join an all girl conversation)…but that’s where weaving into the conversation comes… at one point, I asked them for a random fact about their life… everything from Amanda being a tom-boy when she was young to Rachael playing hockey with the guys when she was a kid, to me admitting that my older twin sisters put me in a dress when I a kid (telling embarrassing or funny stories always helps people connect).

I talked to the guys some too...

I talked to the guys some too...

Then I asked them about siblings… these are safe questions to just ask about people that help you begin to feel like friends over a chat… And, then when they would want to talk about something they all knew about (like at law school), they would bring me in the conversation b/c I acted (and was) interested… and it was as if we were already friends… (thank you ladies for letting me join the chat). Then Rachael came with me to walk down the street to pick up an ice cream cake (which I located on my iPhone) so we could come back and surprise Anthony. It’s fun to just connect with people for the sake of getting to know new folks.

At the end of dinner, a couple other friends arrived and some of the original crowd headed out, including Erin, Rachael, and Amanda… but the rest of us headed up to the second floor for salsa dancing… Anthony and Alex definitely owned the dance floor… On a side note, it’s kind of unfair that girls can just stand there and good dancers will ask to dance with them, but whenever I try to go up to a girl I don’t know to ask them to dance, they give me a funny look (or their boyfriend gives me a funny look)…I’ll be sure to write a post when I get over this hurdle. But, thankfully, I had my new friends Jeremy (PhD Candidate in Applied Economics) and Joe (Investment Banker) to talk to who were also there for Anthony’s party (and the only two guys who stuck around for salsa dancing…  and Investment Banker). And, Jess had a good dancer who kept asking her to dance (I really thought he was going to throw her on the floor, but he caught her every time :)). Dancing with friends is great (thanks for coming, Nicole and Jess!)… then a couple of us went to third floor where they playing more hip-hop style music… so I got inspired to break dance, and a huge circle of people gathered around me cheering. But, somewhere between the hand stand, jazz split, etc…, I hurt my ankle (still a little sore, but feeling better) – maybe that wasn’t the best decision. But, it did result in chatting with strangers who told me I did a great job (thanks, Rolando)… Anyway, it was a fun evening with people I didn’t know and now do know, as well as folks I was already good friends with… Thanks for having a birthday, Anthony, and thanks, Alex, for hosting a great evening…

Written by theconversationguy

October 20, 2009 at 11:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

My New Friend, Carl

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Carl and Conversation Guy - 10-19-09

So, after my chiropractor appointment today, I decided I’d stop at the corner of 19th & K Streets NW to have a chat with a guy selling Street Sense, DC’s newspaper for the homeless. I asked him if I gave him a donation to buy the paper if he would talk to me, to which he replied, “I have all day.” He told me more about Street Sense… Homeless people write articles and, in exchange for writing them, they’re given papers to sell (it’s published bi-weekly). Or, you can buy papers for 35 cents each as a distributor and then sell them (suggested donation of $1). It’s designed as an employment opportunity for the homeless. He said when he first started doing it, he was making $100 per day, but now it’s about $40-50 per day. He said he believes in an honest man’s wage, which is why he thinks Street Sense is a good opportunity. I was chatting with him about different things and he commented that government is messed up and that his biggest frustration with government is what they’re not doing for homelessness.  But, instead of just asking the government for a handout, Carl is working… and he said he is studying computer science in school (and jokingly said he was doing it so he would know how to go online and transfer money into his back account from other countries).  But he reassured me he really wouldn’t do that (Don’t worry, Carl, I know you wouldn’t).

When I asked him about the fact that most assume people choose homelessness… he said that’s true for about 40% who just use whatever money they collect to go buy drugs or alcohol and aren’t really trying to get out. But, he reminded me that there are all types of people who are homeless, who are there for different reasons and have to work hard to move forward. But Carl said even after he finishes his school program, he’ll still try to continue to sell Street Sense b/c he likes meeting and talking with people. I have to say, he was a very friendly guy – and surprisingly positive – more than a lot of people I talk to (who make more money than him). We also chatted about our faith and how he gains strength from God to keep trying. Carl, thanks for your passion for life and your inspiration. I’ll check back with Carl in the future and let y’all know how he’s doing.

So, what do y’all think? I have to admit, since I’m asked for money ALL the time when I’m walking through downtown, it’s a habit to say no thanks and just walk by (otherwise, I’d be broke)… And actually, I think that’s why I went to talk to Carl… he didn’t ask… I walked by and he was holding the papers but he wasn’t screaming out “Help the homeless, buy Street Sense” like most do.  But, it’s good to remember they are real people just trying to make the best of a challenging situation. And, sure, there are those who take advantage of the system… but that’s true of business, politics, or almost any system. I just find it amusing how often that, out of habit, we tend to only talk to those in the same category of life as us… and it’s fun to venture out occasionally… Anyway, please post comments and join the conversation. And, if you’re ever at 19th & K NW, stop and say hello to Carl if you see him 🙂

Written by theconversationguy

October 19, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized