how to make friends & charm people

Via Pinterest

(That was a play on How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, in case you couldn’t tell. Antonyms of alienate are hard to come by!).

Being relatively new to Raleigh, I’m in search of girl friends (because of circumstances, I have plenty of guy friends). I’ve been very bad about having a good work life balance since starting a business is so time-intensive.

One of my favorite friendship quotes is:

I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar.  ~Robert Brault

I absolutely agree. For me, the most meaningful friendships are the ones where I can say “Hey I’m coming over in 10 minutes” rather than having to plan a week or two in advance. On many Saturdays back in DC, I’d tell one of my best friends to meet me at the corner Starbucks or our favorite brunch place (Bread and Chocolate!) in a few minutes. We’d then watch Bethenny on the couch or take random walks around the city. Those are some of the days I’ll always remember.

So how does one find friends in a new city?

  • In my limited experience, it’s often better to join an interest-based group rather than a generic “I’m looking for friends” group. Anyone out there disagree?
  • The gym: Classes like yoga and Pilates often help foster friendships since everyone is struggling with the same moves! In one class I attend at the Y, the instructor has us introduce ourselves to one new person, which I love.
  • Start your own group: Selfishly, one of my motivations for putting together the group of young female bloggers is so I can make friends. Admittedly, it’s a bit easier with something like blogging because you can find and reach out to everyone online.
  • Volunteer:  Linking up with a local group like Change the Triangle is a great way to meet like-minded awesome young adults. CTT’s model is particularly cool because it pairs each service project with a social event, so you’re sure to get balanced individuals.
  • Take a class: Even if you don’t make a friend, you’ll become more talented!
  • Join an intramural sports league: TRI Sports runs leagues for several different sports, and I know tons of people who become friends with their teammates.
  • Join a book club: I’m such a nerd, I would LOVE to do this (in my spare time). Just make sure it’s a demographic that could become your friends (not to bash the elderly ladies’ book club!).
  • Make friends in the bathroom line: No seriously. Girls do this.

I absolutely believe that you have to put yourself in places where you are likely to meet like-minded individuals, but I also know that, oftentimes, friendships evolve from unlikely situations. For example, several of the girls at my sister’s birthday dinner knew each other because they had posted Craigslist ads to find a roommate! Hence my belief that you should always be open to potential friendships as you go through your day.

One last thought on this: sometimes I feel intimidated to ask someone to hang out but 1) who doesn’t want more friends?! and 2) if they say no, you probably don’t want to be friends with them anyway 🙂

This article mentions a group of bloggers that came together organically in LA! This page lists 25 places to meet new people.

Anyone ever tried a site like Girlfriend Social? It’s a website that allows women to form {completely platonic} friendships with other women! Interestinggg…How else have you met your close friends?

throwback: alternative breaks nola

I’ve been thinking a lot about the past, largely in part because TAPI IS COMING TO VISIT ME IN NC! Longgg story short, Tapi is my friend Dominique- we circuitously took this nickname for ourselves during our Alternative Breaks trip to Belize, where we spent every minute together and really solidified our friendship (which is based on a fondness of scary movies, a penchant for prank calls, and true love).

I don’t wish I was back in college because I love where I am now, but I do love looking back at all of my fun memories every once in awhile. Is it strange that I love a good dose of nostalgia every so often?

Alternative Breaks were such a huge part of my college experience. If you’re still in school and haven’t done one- DO IT. You will not regret it. For 7-10 days, you are surrounded by the coolest, most passionate, dedicated, and fun group of young changemakers.

Here’s a video of my second Alternative Breaks trip to New Orleans. Don’t judge how hideous I look please! It was uncharacteristically freezing in NOLA, hence the ridiculous outfit 🙂

AWB NOLA 2010 Highlights from AWB NOLA on Vimeo.

ain’t no city like new orleans

The Crescent City. Basin Street Blues. City Beneath the Sea. The Big Easy. The Confederacy of Dunces. Ramblin’ Man. The City that Care Forgot. 

After watching this music video (which I love!), I got a wave of missing good ole NOLA, where I spent six weeks in the summer of 2009. I went there twice on Alternative Breaks too; each time I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in Musician’s Village.


A favorite for lunch breaks while at the Habitat worksite

credit: unknown

The ever-famous beignets and cafe at Cafe du Monde


The St. Charles Streetcar, which I rode from my house in Uptown to the French Quarter on regular basis

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The best burger in the world!

credit: unknown

What stay in New Orleans is complete without a stop (or five) to Bourbon Street?!


I remember the first time I drove through the Lower Ninth Ward and saw the affected areas. We all craned our necks to see the lettering marked on the doors of destroyed houses- letters that designated whether bodies had been found inside. And once we found them, an eerie feeling would wash over us. Yes, we were tourists- outsiders coming through a neighborhood we had no real connection to. But we then spent hour and days working on reconstruction efforts, so our desire to understand the area we were working in was, in my opinion, both essential and admirable.

New Orleans has an almost mystical quality about it; it’s unlike any other city I’ve been in. It’s an interesting place that I can’t wait to visit again but one where I don’t see myself ever living. The dichotomy between the beauty and destruction lends it a strange, intriguing, inexplicable, romantic, unsettling quality. I want to spend more time understanding the culture, but I also see parts of a culture which I am unsure of. Regardless of my mixed emotions toward the city, I always- without fail- feel a tinge of nostalgia when I see images or songs about it.

Recap: Change the Triangle July event

Yesterday I decided to go to my second (well, first official!) Change the Triangle event. If you’re not familiar, CTT is the Triangle’s young adult volunteer group, which combines a monthly service project with a social event. And it was started by the sister of yours truly!

July’s event took place at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC. For three hours, we sorted through donations from local grocery stores. Unfortunately, some of the donations had to be tossed (AKA put gently into a bin, per the words of our supervisor!), because they were torn open, re-taped, or unsalvageable because of dents. But at the end of our shift, we- some 30 young adults- had sorted through 12,000 lbs of food and non-food products!

We were all sweaty, gross, and wearing work out attire, so naturally…it was time to hit the Ale House! Some of us ordered food to ease our hunger pains. In retrospect, it was symbolic- we were hungry from volunteering in the heat for 3 hours, but what about the families who are forced to receive food from partner agencies of the Food Bank  because they can’t afford it otherwise? How must they feel every day?

And that’s what CTT does. It encourages you to think beyond your one monthly service project. It encourages you to recognize that those three hours are incredibly valuable (did you read the 12,000 lbs part?!) but also acknowledge that it’s about something bigger than putting in your dues and walking away.

And, may I say, you can do all of the above while having a whole heck of a lot of fun! We joked, we laughed, we teased, we made friend dates (local brewery, here we come!). What an amazing thing when a group of cool, fun young adults will give up part of their Saturday to come out and make a positive contribution to their community. I look forward to many more Saturdays with this group.

the good, the bad, & the senior year

This week has been a bit up and down- mostly great but some hard things as well.

The Bad:

  • Horrible tornados hit Raleigh and Eastern NC this weekend, killing at least 45 and injuring many more. It was really scary to be on the phone with my sister as she heard the tornado coming, but thank goodness she (and everyone else I know down there) is okay. One neat thing is how the community is apparently really coming together to help each other. Donate to the Triangle Red Cross here and find Raleigh volunteer events through Change the Triangle.
  • I came down with another cold!


  • My friends and I spent Sunday on a Crab Boat Cruise in the Potomac. Sunny day, lots of crab, and new friends- can’t complain!
  • I found out that my new niece or nephew will be a…NEPHEW! So excited for baby #2 🙂
  • I’m being flown to Raleigh on Thursday to work an event for my company. I feel like such a grown up taking a business trip 🙂 So excited to see everyone down there, especially my sister of course.
  • I met Ben Stein in Starbucks! He walked over to me and said “You’re going to be the most successful person in here because you’re the only one smiling.” Wooo that definitely made me smile even more!
  • My professor loved the first draft of my Human Services paper. I’m writing a diversified funding plan for my sister’s organization Change the Triangle, and I think I have some good fleshed out ideas. Best of all, it’s a memo, so in the “From” part, I put “Roman Enterprise Consulting.” Foreshadowing, anyone?
Coming up:
  • Raleigh!
  • Camping for one night in Pohick Bay
  • Last week of classes
  • Final photography portfolio
  • Getting back to cooking
  • More blogging

Cristina’s Tip of the Week

As a Compass Mentor, I have a small group of four freshmen who I meet with weekly. Specifically, my role is to guide them through the process of learning about social entrepreneurship, but we also chat about classes, social lives, cooking, etc.

We decided recently that I would give them a weekly tip- on anything from what fun places to check out in DC to how to avoid stress to healthy eating habits.

I figured I’d share my tips here!

  • Add some ZEST to your lifecheck out the Washington Post Going Out Guide for fun events throughout the city. You can even save your favorites on your own life and share it with friends! [This tip was accompanied by a slice of homemade coconut lemon zest bread- get the pun?]
  • Take initiative in the Compass Fellowship and beyond. Think we should all volunteer as a group? Set up an event with DC Central Kitchen. Is there another Fellow you haven’t had a chance to connect with? Invite them for coffee!
  • When you’re in a working relationship with an “elder,” learn to “manage up” [this tip was passed on to me by my professor, Kathy Korman Frey]. What does this mean? Take control of the relationship- you suggest a date, you confirm meetings, you send a thank-you email. Taking charge shows you know what you’re doing but it also eases the pressure on the other person- especially if they’re a busy executive director, like my mentor!  [P.S. Right after posting this, I got the following gchat from a friend: “great blog post! followed up with supervisors i met in a meeting today b/c of it!”]

Do you have any tips I could share with my Fellows?

Social enterprise & plain old socializing.

On the social enterprise front: I grabbed coffee this week with a fellow social enterprise enthusiast who’s working on several projects in the Raleigh-Durham area. It was exciting to talk shop after being on a mini-hiatus since the beginning of the summer.

It was great to hear about all of the organizations/projects/ventures that revolve around social enterprise & social innovation going on in the area. To name a few: Bull City Forward, The Redwoods Group, and Good Work. I’m particularly looking forward to Good Work’s Community Gatherings!

Another cool organization that I may consider applying to for after graduation: d.light international. It’s a for-profit social enterprise that seeks to “Enable households without reliable electricity to attain the same quality of life as those with electricity.” They do this by replacing kerosene lanterns with a special kind of light, called a D.light Nova.

On the strictly social front- my sister runs a volunteer group for young adults in the Raleigh area. She organizes monthly service projects with organizations in the Triangle, and individuals can sign up by project. She’s working on a website, but information is available on Facebook- Mix, Meet, and Make a Change. This past Saturday, we did a clean up project at Jordan Lake- picking up trash from a site by the dam. It looked like a landfill, but we made some serious progress- we found hundreds of tennis balls, unopened beer cans from 1962, heroine needles, and even “Pimp Oil” (Seriously! Apparently it provides a lovely scent for your vehicle haha). One person pointed out that just getting people out to see the environmental degradation is an important awareness-building step.

After volunteering, we rewarded ourselves- with a cookout, s’mores, camping, and my personal favorite- tubing! It was undoubtedly extreme tubing, and I have the bumps, bruises (including on my chin!), and sore muscles to prove it. It was definitely one of the best weekends of the summer, and solidified the fact that my first investment as an adult will be a boat! Life is so much better on the water!

Weekend ponderings

It’s only 11:24am and I’ve already had two deep thoughts this morning haha. They are completely unrelated, but both relevant to things going on in my life.

Last night I was feeling a bit…blah. It was one of those nights when you don’t want to stay in but you don’t want to go out, you want to be social but you don’t want to be social- a tough predicament! Mostly I’m just ready to be back in NC, and I feel like I’m twiddling my thumbs until I get there. I thought how fun it would be to be out with strangers, not caring about what I said said or did, mingling, getting to know cool people…and the perfect opportunity arose! I had been invited to a group dinner and an event with someone I had met the previous weekend. In all honesty, I had every intention of backing out because I don’t know them well, but I decided to throw caution to the wind and go. I had SO much fun- we ate Mexican food (my favorite), played games at the Exchange with other DC Kickball league players, went to Dupont, played Skee Ball, and ate delicious late-night burgers. I would have missed all that fun if I had stayed in or stuck to my usual social engagements. Looking back, that’s not a very deep thought, but it was cool how such a fitting opportunity came up just when I needed it!

On a completely unrelated note, I got an email yesterday about logging hours for the Michelle Obama Service Challenge. Apparently, if you log 100+ hours of volunteering by Monday morning, you will receive “receive a certificate of achievement, a congratulatory letter from the President, and an official President’s Volunteer Service Award lapel pin.” Since I’ve done the hours, I figured I might as well get rewarded for them, even though that wasn’t my reason for doing them. But, when I went to log my internship hours with Social Enterprise Associates, I found an unexpected but not terribly surprising catch- SEA is a for-profit organization, so my 16 hours/week hours do not count toward the challenge. This got me thinking about the evolution of social enterprise (again, not surprising!) and how many people still believe for-profit and social good do not mix. I, like many of my peers, believe that for-profit or non-profit is just a tax structure- the social component can be present in either.

THIS got me thinking about my answers for my end-of-semester “learning outcomes” for my internship class.

What changes in your own belief system have resulted from your participation in this course?

Though I am still immensely interested in social enterprise, I have begun to see the limitations and challenges instead of believing it is a magical idea that will solve all of the world’s problems. Listening to my classmates’ experiences has allowed me to re-realize the value of counselor, teachers, etc- value that cannot be measured in profit.

In addition, I have had another change in my belief system since the beginning of the semester as a result of this class, my internship work, general experiences, and my Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership class. Although I do not believe that “all enterprises are social” as many argue, I have begun to believe that many businesses who are not considered “social enterprises” do in fact serve a critical social service. For example, my business plan (portfolio-building for women) would not qualify as a social enterprise because the end goal is to generate a profit, but it serves a beneficial social purpose of encouraging women to value their unique skills and abilities. This new realization is in contrast to my past belief that the end goal must be social in order for the organization to be beneficial.


And those, my friends, are my deep Sunday morning observations of life!

This week’s agenda: finish paper on the evolution of philanthropy; attend the NFTE Dare to Dream Gala, attend GW’s Women & Philanthropy Forum, present my research on food sustainability with my friend at our open class symposium, and host a clothing swap party with my friends!