Meet Rob Lawless.
That’s him on the left.
Actually, chances are you already have. Rob is on a mission to make 10,000 friends and he’s documenting the whole thing on his Instagram account: @robs10kfriends. He’s also doing it all right here in Philadelphia.
Here are four stops he’s made along the way so far.
Penn State University
Rob’s first meet-up.
First off, what would inspire someone to actually want to meet 10,000 people? For Rob, it’s the community aspect of the whole thing.
Rob graduated from Penn State a few years ago and made a move to Philly, during which he remembers feeling like he lost some sense of community. Frequenting various clubs and activities on campus, he would rarely walk to and from class without stopping and talking to several people he considered friends along the way. It’s a sense of community he wanted to recreate in his post-college life.
The number 10,000 specifically? Inspired by Malcolm Gladwell’s famous rule: If you do anything for 10,000 hours, you’re considered an expert at that thing. 10,000 is the magic number.
“Also I always say that’s a number that allows this to become something bigger than a side project,” Rob told me. “It’s something that I hopefully will turn into my life’s work. It should take me about 10 years to complete it.”
A full-time gig
Hey, we know her.
Today, Rob is doing his project full-time, but it didn’t really begin that way. After graduating, Rob had spent time working at both Deloitte and RJMetrics.
“My sales experience from RJMetrics was a big help for this,” Lawless says. “I would just be cold emailing people and then I would direct message people on Instagram.”
A lot of the initial outreached focused on people in the creative community who are typically more likely to support this type of creative endeavor. Today, worrying about outreach isn’t so much a problem as being able to respond to everybody reaching out to him.
Slippin’ and slidin’ in the DMs
Rob is now at nearly 600 friends and, as you might imagine, once this thing reached a certain point, Rob’s source of friends kind of started generating itself. Over a couple of weeks alone, Rob can expect around one hundred people to slide in his Instagram DMs (the best place to reach him if you’d like to link up).
“If I reach 5,000 people and have 5,000 message requests that could be like the rest of the people right there,” he says. “I think I’ll become less accessible at some point.”
You might be wise to try it sooner than later.
Sponsorships and the future
Rob sure is.
As you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking the same thing I was: How in the world is this guy to make a living wage by essentially making friends full time?
Rob’s hopeful about the potential the project holds. Ideally, When Rob’s 10K Friends reaches a certain point, a company whose values matches that of the project would approach him for sponsorship. Then you’d have “Rob’s 10K Friends presented by X.” Then, post-project, there may be speaking engagements and potentially a book in the works.
Some solutions, Rob says, he probably hasn’t even thought of yet. And that’s exciting.
“It’s cool because not only am I thinking about it, but over 400 people have asked me, so obviously I’m not the only one thinking about it. Someone else might have an answer eventually.”
If you’ve got a big idea for Rob or even would just like to meet him for an hour or so to say hello and hear more about his story, hit him up on Instagram.