By Flickr user Axwel, via Wikimedia Commons

Thousands of us took flights today, millions drove to work, thousands more took mass transit and countless more walked somewhere.  Most of us did it alone.  We may have been surrounded by hundreds on a sidewalk or even packed like sardines into an airplane, but we probably did it “alone.”

Not that long ago travel was the ultimate shared “experience.”  The expectation was that fellow travelers would talk to one another and share the excitement.  Conversations among travelers today are rare, as we prefer our electronic companions to the humans around us.

All this week, I have been reflecting on an annual event called thinkAbout.  It is a cluster of people who meet each year in a different location to think about our experience-based economy.  Last year they met in Minneapolis.  The 2-day event focused on the conversations we have … and the conversations we should have.  We departed with a challenge to continue the thinkAbout by finding ways to hold conversations and to appreciate them as one of life’s great opportunities.  Among the ten conversations to hold were:

  • What in-car conversation should you have and with whom?
  • What neglected person in your life should you spend some time with?
  • What conversation with a boss, peer or subordinate have you been putting off that needs to take place?
  • What conversation-inducing object should you be sure to pack for a gathering with family or friends?
  • What via-mirror topic should you discuss with your stylist or barber the next time you cut your hair?

Last night the 2011 thinkAbout kicked off in Del Mar, CA  … and the conversations began anew.  The electronic companions were put aside as attendees from as far west as Hawaii and as far east as Denmark chose to talk.  The journey was beginning … and it was to be shared.

Kenyan Speed Bump Roadsign - K. Macdonald

There is an old African proverb, “If you want to travel fast, travel alone.  If you want to travel far, travel together.”  I suspect this group will go far.

Who are you traveling with?

Who should you have a conversation with?