Five-plus years ago when we moved to Bend, I started the process of connecting with new health care professionals. It’s not a fun process, trying to figure out the best people to see for your particular situation in a new and smaller city. Since I had some heart issues in the past, I made an appointment with the local cardiology unit at St. Charles, the hospital in town. A very nice P.A.-C, I’ll call her Heidi, was getting my health history, taking my vitals, etc. 

Heidi was sociable, so we started chatting about what we were each doing. She mentioned her boyfriend wanted to do a big backpacking trip with her, and that was coming up. So I told her “Well, if you want to carry less weight on that trip, we should talk, because that’s kinda what I do.” I told her about Gossamer Gear, she came over to the house and we went over gear and outfitted her with some light stuff for her trip with the boyfriend.

Fast forward 5 years, and she’s now married to the boyfriend. Francie and I just went over to their house this week to catch up since we’ve both been gone so much. We both have the same adventure van, the Winnebago Revel (ours is @WallyRevel on IG) and have done trips together. They just bought a boat and have boated in Alaska. They are always up for adventure, and we’re planning our next getaway as a foursome.

Because Heidi was curious, and I was curious, we both ended up with a new friend who had some common interests. If she had just concentrated on cardiac issues and kept it purely ‘professional’ that day, we both would have missed out.

A few months ago, on a visit to my primary care doctor, coffee came up in conversation, I still can’t remember how or why.  My doctor mentioned he was very much into coffee.  I explained that I roasted my own coffee at home on the stovetop and he was intrigued, and started asking questions.  After the appointment, I went home and put together a starter kit of green coffee beans and some information to get him started, and dropped those back off at his office.  Now whenever we connect, the first discussion is about coffee, before we move to medical topics.

So because we were chatting about stuff other than my medical, I got to induct my doctor into the secret club of stovetop coffee roasting, and he got to expand and enhance his coffee experience!

Part of curiosity is engaging, in chatting to people.  I’m not that great at this, being an introvert, but I make an effort because I’ve seen the benefits.  An equally important part is listening, being alert for what other people are talking about, about what they’re doing, what they’re passionate about, and what is bringing them joy.  One of the fulfilling things about my journey of writing a book has been the incredible people I’ve met along the way through the process.

One of these people was Rohit Bhargava, founder of IdeaPress.  While I ultimately went with another publisher, I really enjoyed my interactions with Rohit, and in our short encounters, felt he ‘got’ the book probably better than anyone I had spoken to about it. Rohit has an impressive email signature, that includes Trend Curator as a title.  But what really grabbed me was the second entry in his list of impressive titles… Listener.  I have never seen that in an email signature.  I meet lots of impressive people that are interested in speaking, not so many that are so intently focused on listening.  It’s probably something we could all do a little better.

So as we slide into the holidays, may we all have the curiosity of a child, and focus on listening…

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  1. I think it’s David Brooks who said (perhaps quoting someone else) “relationships are wealth”. You get this as well as anyone I know.

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