PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Philadelphia man has a goal: to make 10,000 new friends. It turns out, it has become his full-time job.
“For me, meeting someone is like watching an episode of TV or watching a movie,” 28-year-old Rob Lawless said. “I felt like in adulthood, it’s either a business meeting or it’s dating, and people aren’t really open with their time outside of that.”
Lawless spends one-on-one time with complete strangers for one hour. He says it’s the perfect amount of time. On this day, he was meeting Michael Hsun.
“I wanted to give us time to run out of topics to speak about,” Lawless said. “If there was an awkward pause, you have to dive underneath the surface a little bit.”
Lawless was inspired to do this project from his days in corporate America as a sales rep.
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The following post is made possible by @wework. Follow along with their account if you’d like to support my project! 😁🙏🏼 #WeWorkPartner • 2701. “When I was 9 years old, I knew I wanted to be an architect.” As a kid, Adam Bortz used to dream up and create cities out of Legos and Lincoln Logs. He also knew how to draw really well, so on top of developing a passion for hockey at school, he decided he wanted to become an architect. Adam chose to attend Philadelphia University (@jeffersonuniv) and, while there, pursued his degree in Architecture while also interning at an architecture firm back home in Allentown, PA. Despite having offers from some of the bigger firms in Philadelphia after school, he decided to stay at the smaller company, but unfortunately became laid off about 6 months later due to the 2008 economy. After about 1.5 years of trying to land a job in the industry, Adam took a role selling iPods at @bestbuy and worked there until he caught a somewhat lucky break. During an alumni hockey game at his high school, he had his two front teeth knocked out by one of the high school players. Adam then gave his resume to that kid’s dad, who felt really bad about the incident, and found his way back into the architecture industry. Eventually, Adam took a role as a senior store designer at @tommyhilfiger in NYC, but returned to Philly after about 4 years to work on store designs for @ikeausa. Back in April, though, he followed his old boss from Ikea to a new company, @wdpartners, where he now acts as a Director, implementing his love for the process of creation and appreciating the winding road that led him to where he is today! Awesome hanging with you, @bortz10! #10kfriends #philly #centercity #wework #legos #architecture #hockey #phillyu #recession #architect #director #windingroad #meetingpeople • How we met: Adam and I were introduced through his friend / my sister’s fiancé, @fgb106!
“It was a lot of just following up because it’s more so a game of persistence in the sales world,” Rob said. “And a lot of people would get annoyed with that, would respond negatively. One guy called me a cockroach.”
“I was laid off and took this full-time, and end of this month will be three years full-time, which is crazy,” he said.
The project has led him to some pretty cool experiences.
“I went out to Hawaii a few weeks ago,” Lawless said. “When I was in San Diego, (one man) took me up in a plane that he had built himself. I went surfing for the first time.”
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2706. “It became more of a way for me to escape when I moved here.” Born and raised in the Philippines, Martin Tadashi moved to the U.S. when he was 16 years old. At that time, he used his photography, a skill he developed by stealing his grandfather’s cameras when he was little, to document his new life and to escape whenever he needed to (he sometimes still does this by taking his camera to parties). He then took classes on the subject when he enrolled in college at @rutgersu, but actually majored in English & Creative Writing instead. Martin loved writing and through his classes discovered that he most enjoyed poetry, mainly because he easily went off on tangents when writing long form pieces. He started classes back in 2007 and graduated back in 2016 because he also worked through his entire college career, doing everything from being a barista to waiting tables to running photo shoots. Martin mainly worked out of the NYC area for about 6 years; however, he moved here to Philly 2 years ago to work for a sports licensing company run by one of his old fraternity brothers. Martin also settled here because he felt he could escape the NYC noise to learn more about his personality, and lately has been doing just that through channeling his emotions into new written poems! So nice to meet you, @martintadashi! #10kfriends #philly #centercity #philippines #photography #escape #rutgers #english #poetry #sports #poem #meetingpeople • How we met: Martin and I randomly met in person last week at a @two_robbers event thanks to @brendanlowry (#467) and then set up a time to hang! • This post was #sponsored by my friends at @ccdsips. Check out their account for all of the #CCDSIPS locations & specials and get out there to make a new friend of your own!
Since 2015, Lawless has met more than 2,700 people. He tracks his adventures and conversations on Instagram.
“I don’t take notes or anything like that,” Lawless said. “I take a picture with everyone that I meet, and then I write a little bit about what I remember of their story and I post it to Instagram.”
We’re giving 3 Cheers to Lawless as he tries to make the world a little more friendly.
“I see these meetings as just opening the door with people,” Rob said.
Chandler Lutz also told her story to Lawless, becoming one of his 10,000 friends.
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2685. “That was the moment where it all came full circle.” While Chandler Lutz was working as a sales intern at @phl17, she decided to take a break from her desk to wander around the office and stumbled upon the news studio. There, she practiced reading a news report and felt right at home thanks to her previous experience in entertainment. Though she’s originally from South Jersey, Chandler actually spent a year in Los Angeles during high school. In that time, she cut an album with Seth Riggs (Michael Jackson’s former vocal coach) and acted in independent films while simultaneously raising money for a charity she started. As a result, Chandler leveraged her natural presence in front of the camera to land a traffic reporter role at PHL17 just 6 months after her graduation from @saintjosephs. She then sharpened her on-camera skills there, and though she received anchor offers from markets like a town in Mississippi, Chandler stayed in Philly and eventually received a call from @cbs_philly. She joined the CBS team last August and now wakes up at about 2:30am-3am each morning to report the traffic news here in the city. Though she holds an abnormal sleep schedule so she can still fit in her passions of cooking, going to the gym and spending time with her boyfriend, Chandler loves her job and now has the ability to bring stories (like mine!) to light through her new segment, 3 Cheers! Awesome hanging with you and looking forward to the story, @chandlermarielutz! #10kfriends #philly #fairmount #springgarden #fullcircle #reporter #singing #acting #charity #stjoes #phl17 #cbsphilly #traffic #threecheers #meetingpeople • How we met: Chandler heard about my project through her friend, @davidgrzy (#1266), and was then introduced to me via email so we could do a story together for her 3 Cheers segment on @cbs_philly!
You can follow Rob’s 10,000 Friends project at @robs10kfriends.