Every year around the time of Thanksgiving in the US I feel a bit nostalgic. I spent only 3 years of my life in the US (Boston, Massachusetts), but I still have this funny feeling that Thanksgiving is also my holiday.
One of many reasons why I have very good memories about my formative years in the US is that I was constantly blown away by people's generosity. I often felt that Americans had their homes, and hearts, open for me. It often happened to me that, after just having met people once, I was invited to their house for dinner. It's not so common in Latvia, where I come from. Neither it is in Belgium, where I am living now.
There were generous professors who invested extra time of their work into me. In fact, I owe the fact that I can write in English relatively well (for a non-native English speaker) to Professor Patricia Cumming, who encouraged me to follow her creative writing course at Wheaton College back in 1995. I am thankful to her for this. People invited me to their homes during holidays and allowed me to stay there for weeks in a row. They fed me. And heck, people even gave me money I needed for my studies.
Schmoozing is also something that became part of my DNA during my time in the US. I did some very advanced, very authentic, and very warm-hearted schmoozing with some great people at the awesome Fletcher School, where I was Fulbright student in 2001. That's where I learned the word "schmooze" and understood its real meaning. And look at this -- now it's even part of my own brand identity.
Schmoozing and generosity combined work very well in the business context, and Americans has taken this combination to perfection. When these two qualities come together, the effects can be bombastic. I've just come across a great article about generous schmoozing by James Altucher, American investor, author and entrepreneur. What James is talking about is the kind of schmoozing I find meaningful -- it's networking for the sake of connecting people, without expecting anything in return. Here's a nice quote for you from his article, "Connecting people who can benefit each other is the most useful skill you can have on the entrepreneurial ladder of skills. When you help others make money by connecting them together, the world forces itself into the Möbius strip of success that brings the money right back to you times ten."
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