My wife and I were quietly enjoying the breakfast session of a recent B&B experience; a guilty pleasure that we cherish for the unique accommodation settings and the possibility for an interesting conversation... and, I might add, the homemade breakfast is always a plus too! This day we happened on one of those unique accommodations and memorable conversations with a fellow guest. That morning we gathered about a small community table of an old croft house on the Isle of Harris.
After my second, maybe third, cup of coffee, this charitably proportioned fellow takes up residence adjacent to me and quickly inquires if we might, perhaps, be from Chicago. We nod and exchange simple pleasantries, move on to detailing our day's plans and, as I'm often wont, state my profession - go figure, maybe that's just something engineers do out of lack of any better personal identifiers? In reply, my new Scottish friend tells of the time he spent as youth in Chicago and how refreshing it was to hear that Midwestern accent again. He adds that his work is with engineers. He helps them become better, more expressive writers and goes on to describe how his passion is building connections between innovators and those in need of their ideas. At that point, I figure he was maybe a saintly re-embodiment of Robert Burns who, now swearing off morning whisky, takes up holiday residence at these types of inns and orders his eggs over with black pudding on the side.
Leaving me no time for further imaginative speculation, he immediately proceeds to describe how engineers are truly the most wonderful and positive people he knows, and he knows that because he sees that they are always trying to make things better and that they work quite diligently toward that end. He finishes saying that he loves his work since it give him a chance to be a contributor in that effort. Not fully knowing where to take it from there, and sensing a slight roll in my wife’s eyes, I’m directly inclined to grab another cup of coffee and seriously considering opening that single malt we’ve packed away for a future bit of cheer. Little matter to me, as I just wanted to keep this laudatory chat going. Rather – knowing that we have some miles and adventure to cover today, I merely inquire about his job title, where he works, his position and education – facts and details that may be useful for future reference. I quickly tuck those away in my mental rolodex and we finished the smaller talk and started to chart out the map for the day’s travels.
A few weeks later, back home and browsing through the daily emails, I happen across an article, a TED Ideas piece: How to introduce yourself so you’ll be unforgettable (in a good way!) This article suggests that we are just too quick giving our title, profession and education as the perfect identifiers – we assume these are the facts and details that will be most useful and memorable for someone’s future reference. This TED presenter, Kara Cutruzzula, just like my breakfast mate from that morning in Scotland, offers an entirely differ path to introductions. Kara suggests that we take time to describe our passions, interests and goals while showing a bit of vulnerability to help shape those larger experiences and ambitions that each of us unique, special… and, yes, with a bit of practice, more memorable!
These self-improvement ideas, just like B&Bs, are small guilty pleasures. I’m not often to suggest one or the other, unless pressed or if I find them of notable value. So if you’re traveling along the western isles of Scotland be sure to take a chance on one of those small croft inns, and if you’re looking for a more memorable self-introduction, I might suggest that Kara’s TED article; they might just be the accommodation you’ve been looking for and the right makings to start the next truly interesting conversation.
Brian is a professional engineer, educator and expert witness. The engineering side of his career has focused primarily on highway design, construction and ROW acquisition. Whereas his work in the educational field has taken him to lead applied physics and construction management courses. This blending of the conceptual, practical… and existential has provided some unique insights over his career span. When the occasion rises, which is often, Brian loves to share his reflections on those experiences and, when nudged, is glad to offer some of those notions on our blog.