No, not the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything. 42 is the number of states Josh Silverman has taken his kids to. Before they graduate high school he plans to have visited all 50 with them. Before the storm arrived in Charleston, he went to the library in order to get reading material for the inevitable wait. The librarian knows his name, his kids and wife, and asks about them when he goes to check out books. For this particular reading session he grabbed All Quiet on the Western Front, a personal favorite of mine. Josh will tell you that he has seen the film, but never read the book and so now he wants to correct that.
This is Josh as I know him. If you have been in Charleston, around the startup scene in this city by the sea, then you have probably run into Josh. He's a fixture here. In fact, before meeting with him this morning, I have already seen him a dozen times at various events and people I know have at the least heard his name. Honestly, I relish the chance to sit down with people like Josh, because I want to see something other than what I can perceive at a distance at an event.
Josh is a quick intellect. Conversation with him moves quickly and the roads you will travel have no speed limit. That's not to say he bulls you over or that he is inconsiderate or uninterested in new people and relationships. Far from it, relationships are critical for Josh as a person. Rather his mind just moves so quickly and in his speed is the respect for your mind as well. It's thrilling to go through topic after topic, to field his questions for me and ask my questions of him. These are the types of conversations I love.
Josh and I have something in common, we both worked for the same company in the same industry here in Charleston. It was a learning experience for both of us and we can both acknowledge that, but we both are also glad to not be there. These moments of reflection can be really healthy, the chance to gain the perspective on a shared experience from a different set of eyes, a different memory. The talk we have about the company is good, I actually enjoy seeing another person's perspective, but it is what comes out from this talk that is a real gem.
Relationships. Josh comes out of a long background in sales. He is 45, so he was working sales before tech shifted the landscape away from notecards holding leads to inbound marketing and digital lead generation. Today you can find a hundred books on relationship selling, but this is how Josh always did his job. He built relationships. Sitting across from him, I can see it in his eyes. He is listening to me, paying attention and noting what is of interest to me and what isn't. In short, he is present and invested. Those two factors are the way to make a conversation turn into a connection. Josh gave advice to clients, but never forced the decision because you either wanted it or not, and the relationship was more important than the sale.
He tells me a story of when he first came down to Charleston, seeking to build a network of new friends. He and his wife went out and engaged in social life, dinners and parties, conversation about hundreds of topics. The problem was that Josh is a thinker, he wants something deeper. There is no topic off limits to him because that is how he digs deep into who he is speaking with. Instead, the people he was talking to wanted to keep everything on the surface, so he sought something deeper elsewhere.
Josh seeks depth and challenge. He loves consulting and startups. When you speak to him you can watch the gears turn. He asks me about what the next steps for this project are. Josh is always learning, always seeking challenge. He is a teacher, as so many of the best learners are, and it is reflected in his work as a consultant and the lessons he actively seeks to pass on to his kids. When our time wraps I wish that we had more immediately. I want to dig deeper into these conversations and see what I can learn. Still, there is a lingering thought in my mind...
The number of states Josh has taken his children to out of 50.
The number of connections I have made out of 100.
We are all on a journey of our own making. The mile markers and scenery depending on our path, but we all count the miles, reflecting where we have been and where we will go. Josh will make 50 because it is important. The same reason I will make 100. We all have journeys. We all have dreams and they are all equally important.
Favorite Dinosaur: Stegosaurus
Why: The shape of the plates on its back create a gravitas that makes it distinct.