What Tables Do You Want To Sit At?

I was listening to a podcast the other day and one idea really struck me.

They (Dan and Ian) mentioned, almost in passing, something about “what you bring to the table” and what that means, and then re-evaluating the question in terms of “what tables do you want to sit at?”

In other words, when there is a gathering of experienced, knowledgeable people for a meal, do you want to be there?

If so, what tables do you want to sit at?

It can be any table– the table of travelers, salsa instructors, used car salesmen, or black belt jiu jitsu warriors. Every area of experience and knowledge has a ‘table’, as it were.

…See, I really like turns of phrase like that, ones that change your perspective on a metaphor and get you to think a little…

So this got me thinking… what tables do I want to sit at? I mean, I already sit at some, but not others.

Here are some I’m aiming at:

1) The Location Independent Entrepreneur Table

Being an entrepreneur is freaking hard. I mean, it’s well known that the majority of new businesses fail, and just practically speaking, there is always a ton of work to do as well as the constant threat that you will run out of money before your plane gets off the ground.

All that said, I’d love to sit at this table. It’s not just for entrepreneurs– though that in itself is an awesome table to sit at. It’s for entrepreneurs who have businesses which are independent of where they are on the planet. This allows for incredible lifestyle design possibilities. (Remember, I’m interested in expansiveness.)

In order to really be successful here, you’ve got to be smart, resourceful, responsive, and an all-around hustler. Through traveling, the folks usually have a lot of cool experiences to share and maturity that they’ve gained. I’ve met a few of these kind of people through the blogosphere, and I am looking forward to hanging out with them more.

2) The Polyglot Table

I’m not exactly sure if polyglots ever get together at a ‘table’, but if they do, it would be a really learned group. I’m not sure what they would talk about except to show off their language skills, but nevertheless… :)

Learning languages opens up doors, and coincident with my desire to be location independent is to be well-traveled, with deep experiences around the globe. There are very few ways to do this other than to learn foreign languages, especially of the countries you are interested in experiencing.

Eventually, I want to be able to speak and understand 4 or 5 major global languages with ease, enabling me to converse with the vast majority of human beings on the planet, and live practically anywhere. I’m doing pretty good with Spanish these days.

3) The Private Equity and Investment Table

This table seems to me to be a little further on down the road. But basically, I want to know business deals, contracts, funding, business and entrepreneurship so well, that (by experience) I can go to a foreign country, speak with the key individuals, assemble a team, and start up something from scratch.

I suppose it’s more of a role I envision for myself… I really don’t want to be the work-horse. I’d ultimately rather be the catalyst. A catalyst of philosophy & ideas, advice & inspiration, and funds as needed.

The best investors tend to be those with a lot of experience with entrepreneurs, so I’m watching and listening in as much as possible, and intend to be more involved as time goes on.

When do you ‘get there’?

I don’t know if there’s ever a definite ‘line’ that you cross, where one day you weren’t at the table and the next day you are. I think it’s more of a gradual process until the people at the table start recognizing you.

To do this, you have to give them a reason to recognize you.

How do you give them a reason to recognize you? You gotta do something they will value… Prove yourself. Get some chops. Have a track record.

Then do something nice for them. Invite them over for dinner.

That’s how you get to sit at the table.

What tables do you want to sit at?




Published January 30, 2012

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  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    Thanks for the shout man! I’d like to be invited out when there is a gathering of writers. Give me a couple years on that one! 

    • http://ryangoesabroad.com Ryan

      I think you’re well on your way, sir. :)

  • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

    Sheryl Sandberg does a great TED talk about leadership and taking your place at the table. It is geared toward women (it was for the TED Women conference) but I think the message is pretty universal  :)

    http://www.ted.com/talks/sheryl_sandberg_why_we_have_too_few_women_leaders.html 

    • http://ryangoesabroad.com Ryan

      I like that point she made, Elisa. And I must say that was the first women’s conference talk I’ve ever seen. ;)

      • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

        Because of this talk alone she is one of the few people I would fly around the world for a chance at an hour-long coffee chat with. Being an executive in corporate America I *so* saw exactly what she is talking about. But it applies to so many others than just businesswomen. If you see a table you want to be a part of, sit down and act like you are supposed to be there. Don’t wait for an invitation.

        Congrats on making it through your first women’s conference talk. Sadly they aren’t all that good (same can be said for any genre conference talks I suppose!) 

  • http://languagemusings.com/ Tristan

    Nice concept Ryan.  Dan and Ian always have good thought-provoking stuff, they’re in my earbuds constantly.

    Can I join your polyglot table? =D

    • http://ryangoesabroad.com Ryan

      I think you’re already there, my friend. Hope you will invite me to dinner sometime. I’ll bring the guaro. ;)

      • http://languagemusings.com/ Tristan

         haha trato hecho!

  • http://ryangoesabroad.com Ryan

    Hey Matt – Thanks for stopping bro. I would say you definitely sit at the photography table, and looking forward to seeing how you develop the business side of things too… Come to think of this, are you in Indonesia now or what??

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