My grandfather, Poppy, taught me a really valuable lesson growing up that would later fuel both my personal and professional successes. I have dubbed it: 'Be the Mayor Method.'
Any time we would go out in public whether it was the grocery store, a restaurant, the doctor's office, gas station or even just strolling down the street, I would be in awe of Poppy's ability to strike up casual conversation with strangers.
He wasn't the most charming or handsome of guys. Poppy even had a rough, polarizing Brooklyn accent to boot, but he knew he could win anyone over in a few short sentences. He became the champ at building his network by finding commonalities in the world.
I would watch people's reactions of him as they would go from 'what the hell does this guy want,' to genuinely smiling and acting as if they had made a new friend.
After his interactions, Poppy would turn to me and say, "No one is above you, kid. Don't be afraid to talk to anyone. We all put our pants on one leg at a time."
My whole family would jokingly call him the 'Mayor' and collectively roll our eyes as we tried to pull him out of the local pizza joint or coffee shop as he carried on with another spontaneous friend.
Yet, the real magic in his daily connections was his ability to sometimes utilize his new friendships to his advantage. I will never forget the time that my family visited the Statue of Liberty on one of the hottest days in New York City. This was before 9/11 when you could still tour the inside of the Statue.
As we stood on the three hour line to get in, Poppy went to work making friends. I noticed that he strategically started with nearby Statue workers and security guards. I'm sure he was telling them stories of his days working on the streets of Manhattan and his experience of being there when the Twin Towers were being built.
When we finally entered the main doors of the Statue of Liberty, we gasped as we saw the very slow moving line that continued up the 354 steps to the top. We were ready to give up. Out of seemingly no where, Poppy and one of his new friends escorted us to the elevator to bypass the line.
Poppy smirked at us as he watched our shocked faces. As the glass elevator climbed to the top, skipping floors upon floors of stairs, he casually said: I guess it pays to be the Mayor."