People Travel

A Simple Tip for Socialising while Travelling Solo (or How to Have Mind Blowing Nights Out when you’re on your Own)

bar scene

Travelling alone is one of the best things I’ve ever done. It opened my eyes to both the external world and internally into my own personality and mind.

One of the changes I had to quickly adapt to was that if I wanted any type of human interaction I had to go out and find it. Moving about constantly means you need to be able to make friends quickly or else you may find yourself eating dinner alone, which is no fun.

While there are hundreds of ways you can go about meeting people while travelling, with hanging out in a hostel being one of the easiest, I want to share a simple strategy that I used all the time in every country with a 90% success rate (I just made up that number but it basically works all the time). It’s also a strategy you can use if you are staying in a nicer hotel or on a business trip so don’t worry if you don’t plan on going backpacking any time soon.

The Bar Strategy

Sounds like a pretty unique strategy right? Just read…

If you’re travelling on your own (even if you’re in your own city really) and feel like meeting someone new and not spending the evening alone, here is what you do. Spend your day sightseeing or in your meetings. While you’re going about during the day look out for bars that you feel are your kind of style. When I say a bar, I mean a place with a bar. Not a lounge, not a club and not a beer garden. You want somewhere that has an actual bar, around the bar tender area with stools you can go and sit on.  Plus they should serve food. If you see a place during the day, pop in quickly and chat to the bar tender.

You: “Hey, I’m new in town and looking for somewhere to hang out tonight, what’s this place like?
BT: Its good / Its bad.
*If it seems like somewhere cool that you could hang out at, and it seems like it gets a little busy follow up with this.*
You: Awsome, sounds cool. I think I’ll head back here later. Thanks so much for helping me out. What’s your name?
BT: No problems, I’m Julie.
You: Julie, nice to meet you. I’m Vinay. Are you going to be working tonight?
BT: Nah, I finish at three.
You: Ahh, too bad. I wanted to see you again so I could give you a HUGE tip for helping me out. Do you know who is going to be working tonight?
BT: Yeh its Dave I think.
You: Dave hey, what does he look like?
BT: (blah bla description)
You: Ok cool. Thanks again Julie, it was nice talking to you. I may see you again tomorrow.

What you have just done there is properly sussed out a venue. It’s only a 1 min conversation but if you jump into 5 different bars throughout your daily venturing, it can seriously help out the quality of your night. Plus, now you have something to talk about when you go back in later. It works just as well if the bartender is still going to be working that evening.

Come back into the bar, ideally earlyish. 6 or 7. With the plan to eat dinner and get a few drinks (or not if you don’t drink). Sit down at the bar, in the middle of the bar. Next to other people and ideally near the section where people come and buy drinks. Strike up a conversation with Dave telling him how you met Julie earlier. Tell him you’re new into town or on holiday. Ask him what is happening in the area tonight. Talk LOUD (but not obnoxiously) so that others in the bar can hear your conversation and contribute. As soon as you get chatting with the people next to you, introduce yourself. Find out what they’re up to (if they’re staying for a few or about to leave is all you need to know). If they’re staying for a while, offer to buy them a drink straight away. Don’t worry, you will get one back. Tip the bartender big the first time.

You now have a whole bar full of friends. When people (read girls) come up to the bar to order their drinks, bring them into your conversation. Introduce the girls to the bartender and to your new friends. Can you see the snowballing effects here?

Don’t worry if the bar isn’t the coolest place in the world. You can always move on later in the night. Also, don’t worry if you don’t get a chance to check it out during the day. If its fairly busy and has a bar, it still works fine.

I can’t tell you how many crazy nights I have had that have started off in this exact manner. I’ve ended up being taken out by the bar tenders, the people next to me and the girls that walk up. To all sorts of crazy places, in different countries. You never know where you’ll end up.

As a closing rule, if you are travelling and out to experience. Try Do not to say no to anything. If some old dude invites you to his kids birthday: Yes. If two seedy guys invite you to a strip club: Yes. If two beautiful girls invite you back to their place…

Life can be awesome if you let it.


The Changing Social Fabric

This is a really interesting video on how social networks have changed the social fabric. Social networks are a great way to stay connected and manage multiple relationships, but they are no substitute to talking to people face to face. That is where the real magic happens and why things like conferences are so important.

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99 Abstract Life Hacks – Make your Life Easier Today!

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Discovery vs Debate – A Tale of Two Conversationalists

Have you ever gotten into a discussion with someone and had it feel like a wonderful journey of discovery, where both of you were bouncing off each other, teaching, learning and debating yes; but growing together with the conversation?

What about a discussion where right off the bat it gets straight into a heated debate, where one person is certain that the other is wrong and instead of tying to discover the truth, they are trying to force their opinion?

Have you noticed that the same people initiate the same type of conversation over and over?

I’m not saying this is a hard and fast rule. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from meeting thousands of people all around the world it’s that:

You can never be 100% when dealing with humans.

That being said, there are patterns that form from interacting with enough people and this is one of those patters.

Which type of person do you prefer to interact with?

Which type of person are you?



How to KILL it In the Corporate World (or the Big, Small, Big Theory) – Part 2

Last post I introduced the big-small-big theory on how to get ahead in the corporate world. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you go back because this post won’t make any sense otherwise…

I talked about the concept of how working in a small business produces more productive employees which can then progress faster in their careers but if this were the only factor, couldn’t you just go from university into a small business, maybe even a crappy business working as a manager then move into a job as Head of Equities at Citigroup?

Hellz no!

Big Businesses

See, big businesses like order. They like structure and the LOVE process. And it’s not like its without merit. Start up workers cringe at the thought of filling out forms for stationary and needing to complete detailed expense reports at the end of each month. But when you have 100k+ employees, small numbers make a big difference.

So while big businesses tend to make inefficient employees, who take the long route when encountered with decisions and actions, it needs to be done or the company would implode.

This is why big companies don’t like people from small businesses. It is too much of a culture shock. While the big business doesn’t need to teach them how to do their job (ie how to program) they need to teach them all the processes such as documentation, communication logging, project scheduling etc…

If a programmer spots a bug in a live program, he can’t just solve it like he would in a small business.

He would have to analyze the program. Report it to the support team with a detailed document and submit a support ticket. The support team would then send it to the testing team to make sure the bug exists. Then it’s sent to a support development team that focuses on fixes and upgrades. They will organise a meeting with the developer who found the problem. A solution will be drafted, while consulting with the architect. The project will be approved by the Project Manager. It will be inserted into the project schedule by the coordinator and it will finally be executed.

That may seem inefficient, but it’s necessary. It’s necessary because if every programmer just started hacking at the system, and ONE single guy messed up, causing the system to go down for 10 minutes. It might cost the bank the equivalent of that guy’s entire life’s salaryprobably more.

Understanding this process is essential for anyone working in a big business, and this is exactly what you’re taught in your first few years as a graduate in a big business. In fact, this is basically all you are taught as your first few years as a graduate. Besides how to scan shit… (If you’re a recent college grad and don’t like the sound of this, don’t worry. You can still get some value from this job by adding everyone to LinkedIn)

Small Businesses

Small businesses on the other hand need more of this structure if they want to expand. This is why small businesses like bringing people in from the big guys. They bring order to the chaos. Then they get corrupted… But at least they understand how and why structure is necessary.

Once they pick up some actual knowledge and skills from the small business, they are now a super worker. Who actually knows stuff, has had to make real decisions, not just small tweaks to existing processes and hopefully has results making a real impact on the success of a business. Plus they understand the value of order and process.
At this point they can walk back into a big business in a higher position completing the big-small-big structure.


This method of getting ahead is not without its risks. That being said, no method of getting ahead it without its risks except maybe being born rich or looking like Megan Fox.

Risks include picking a crappy small company that either doesn’t do anything or dies. You should obviously analyse this before you take the job. The great thing about this strategy is that you can look for your small company while sitting in the big one. Don’t leave until you find the perfect position. Look for a small company that is rapidly growing and one that will have progression opportunities. One that has holes in its organisational structure or has huge growth potential (pre IPO anyone?). Look what is happening to Google right now! They are fighting an uphill battle to keep their top staff including recently throwing $3.5 mil at an engineer to not go to Facebook. If you pick your small company right, it can make all the difference.

Another downside of this is work hours and stress. Moving to a smaller company will likely increase both of these elements. If you are planning on having a kid, now is probably not the best time to leave your stable job for a risky start up. Be prepared to work hard in the small business or you will not get the rewards.

Where as in a big business, lots of the time it’s not really worth working hard. Because the reward for doing an exceptional job is usually the same as doing an OK job. If you know anything about the Dilbert Principal doing a crap job will probably get you promoted faster, drinking helps too, but in reality it’s all about personal preference, so networking is probably the best way to go.