Let’s Help Arlan On Her Quest To Meet 10,000 People [Q&A]

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Have you met Arlan? If not, in the coming months you’ll have a better chance to meet her than most people you don’t know. You certainly are more likely to meet her than me. (That’s also because for the last two years Matt Stabile has held me captive in his travel writing dungeon, where I am forced to produce content for the site.)

You’re more likely to meet Arlan because she has set out on an ambitious mission to meet 10,000 people by December 31, 2011. If her Kickstarter project gets funded, she plans to set out in mid-August, hitting major cities around the world and meeting approximately 80 people per day for 125 days.

So what’s prompted Arlan to climb this social Mount Everest? After all, aren’t people responsible for both world wars, Furbies and Nickleback? Why would anyone want to meet 10,000 of them?

Well, this morning, as Matt slid a pancake underneath the door to his travel writing dungeon where I am imprisoned, he asked me to interview Arlan to see what prompted the mission Arlan is calling the “Arlan Was Here Project.”

The Expeditioner: What caused you to want to meet so many people? I mean, we all like people, but 10,000?

Arlan: The idea initially came to me in March of 2008 when I was trying to think of a way to raise $10,000 to relaunch my print indie magazine. I thought that trying to meet the same number of people would help bring attention to it, and be easy to promote.

The first day I did it, I was in Houston, and after I met my first 10 people, I knew right away that this would be something that would change my life, and be far more than just a fundraiser. I like the number now because it is such a challenge, and really gets people’s attention. And I think its more attainable than any higher number — and more impressive than, say, 1,000.

The Expeditioner: What counts as meeting someone? Can you just shake their hand and call them “met” or do you have to have a conversation with them?

Arlan: In order for it to count, I have to introduce myself and get their name, as well as let them know what I’m doing. I also have to get a photograph with them. Sometimes people will just say “thanks” and that they’ll check out the site to see their pic, and then wish me good luck. But more times than not, I’ll get into a full on conversation with them.

So I spend anywhere from one minute with someone to two or three hours. The one thing I don’t do is rush just to meet a quota. It has to be a genuine exchange to count. For every ten people who say yes to doing it, there are about three others who said no. So I’ll probably meet more like 13,000 people total when all is said and done.

The Expeditioner: In working towards your goal, you have already met 200 people. How has that experience been? Did you like all of those people? Which person was the most memorable and why?

Arlan: I’m not exaggerating at all when I say that the experience of meeting those 200+ people has changed my life. I knew within the first half-an-hour of doing this back in 2008 that it was like nothing I’d ever experienced before, and it would have a profound effect on me as a person and how I saw the world and the people in it.

It seems pretty simple, but sometimes its easy to forget that every single person has such an interesting story. Years and years of experiences and dozens of people in their lives who shape who they are. I’ve considered it truly an honor to be allowed into the lives of these people, even if for a moment. Their stories are all inspiring in one way or another. I’ve liked 99% of the people I’ve met. One percent are just people who are doing it because their friend did, and they’re sort of uncomfortable or annoyed by it. But that’s a very small number.

The Expeditioner:  How many Facebook friends do you have?

Arlan: I have 4,995 Facebook friends. Sometimes it reaches 5,000 (the limit) and sometimes it dips to 4,990.

The Expeditioner: Will you be our Facebook friend?

Arlan: Absolutely! I can’t add you though because I’m near the limit and it won’t let me. But please add me at Facebook.com/dailyarlan

The Expeditioner: What do your family and friends think about this undertaking?

Arlan: My mother has been extremely supportive of it. She’s very outgoing and extremely inspiring and strangers tend to fall in love with her upon meeting her, so I think she’d get a lot out of doing something like this one day. My friends think its cool and interesting. They wish me well and support all of my crazy ideas.

The Expeditioner: How can we help you meet your goal and is someone calling Guinness World Records? Can we buy you a Guinness? It’s a lovely day for a Guinness.

Arlan: Thanks so much for offering to help! I can use all I can get. The biggest way to make it a reality is to just help me get the word out and get people to my Kickstarter page. I have lots of awesome perks for people who can contribute a bit of money to help pay for the travel costs.

Contribute only $35 and you can get a “World Citizen” T-shirt I created specifically for this quest. But anyone who contributes just $1 instantly becomes part of the experience in a big way, by being the first to get my itinerary and specific locations within cities around the world. This way, if they want to be one of the 10,000 people I meet and have their photo on the site, they’ll know where to find me. So if everyone who took a look at the page contributed just a dollar, I’d reach my goal and can get started ASAP!

I haven’t called Guinness yet, but I’ve looked at the rules and everything. I want to apply soon, and I think it would be one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life to be considered for the Guinness Book of World Records!

* * *

In the video on her Kickstarter page, Arlan encourages everyone to go out and meet new people. She hopes that her undertaking of meeting 10,000 people will inspire others to make a point of meeting new people.

Though Arlan has gone to an extreme, I think it’s something most Expeditioner readers can relate to. When I recall the places I’ve been to, it’s not the landscape or architecture that comes to mind, it’s the people I met there. There is down-to-earth beauty about Arlan’s endeavor. On this road of life, we all meet people, but there’s something to be said for going out with the intention of actively meeting people. It’s exciting, sometimes a little scary, but usually worthwhile. So let Arlan’s project inspire you. Get off your computer, go outside, and go meet someone. Arlan is dying to make your and 80 other people’s acquaintance today.


About the Author

LukeArmstrongLuke Maguire Armstrong lives in Guatemala directing the humanitarian aid organization, Nuestros Ahijados. His book of poetry, iPoems for the Dolphins to Click Home About (available for sale on Amazon.com) is especially enjoyed by people who “don’t read poetry.” (@lukespartacus)


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