robs10kfriends with Rob Lawless (3/1/2017)
By: Tabby Miller
Rob Lawless is pursuing an interesting goal: he wants to meet 10,000 different people for an hour each. This might sound farfetched, but Rob’s already met over 700 people and he’s got fans from around the world.
Rob Lawless graduated from Penn State University in 2013 with a business degree in finance. After college, he started working at Deloitte, one of the Big Four accounting firms. Even though Rob’s been a business oriented individual all his life, he wasn’t satisfied with a corporate environment. In October of 2014, he left Deloitte in favor of RJ Metrics, a startup located in Philadelphia, where he worked on the outbound sales team. Rob originally thought of the idea of trying to meet 10,000 people in the beginning of 2014, but it wasn’t until November of 2015 that he had meeting #1. One of the many lessons Rob has learned throughout his journey is that the best way to start is to just… start. “The reason I am where I am today is that I took the first step. I just started,” says Rob. Once he met with his first person, the rest of the meetings became much easier. The more people Rob met with, the more confident he was in his project.
Word started getting around about Rob and what he was doing. Early on in Rob’s project, John Middleton, writer for the Philadelphia Citizen, met with him and wrote a story. The recognition and publicity from the article pushed Rob to continue with his goal. At the end of June of 2016, RJ Metrics was acquired. This resulting in Rob being laid off from his job there. The combination of the encouragement from the press and his newfound unemployment pushed Rob to work on his project full-time. He wants to look back on his life and be able to say that he gave this project everything he had. With the help of social media, word of mouth, and several news stories, Rob’s project grew swiftly. People started reaching out to him and asking if they could be a part of his story. After doing a joint podcast with Jess Lively, Rob gained attention from all over the world. People from other countries were contacting him saying they’d love to meet if Rob was ever traveling near them. Eventually, Rob wants to be able to take robs10kfriends all over the world.
Working on this project has taught Rob a lot about himself. Most importantly, meeting different people offers Rob a chance to gain perspective. After talking with people like Danny, a motivational speaker who walks around on feet with holes in them from when lighting struck body, Tyrone, a man who spent 43 years of his life in prison and met with Rob just months after his release, Rosalind, a woman who’s experienced a life filled with trauma and is dedicated to helping others, and Lennie, a snowboarding accident victim who was told he would never be able to walk again but didn’t listen, Rob doesn’t look at his own life in the same way as he did before. Every one of the people Rob meets widens his perspective and helps him to understand lives that aren’t like his own.
As of now, this is Rob’s life. But what happens after 10,000? “No one in this world knows what they’re doing, so I’m leaving it open,” says Rob. The future may be uncertain, but for now, Rob is going to focus on his passion: meeting people and hearing their stories.