How To Be More Creative And Hang Out With New People (Said Differently: Should We Launch “My Misfits Minglers” Meet-Up Group?)

Melissa Llarena
Creative Enlightenment
5 min readJul 8, 2021

Taking a new step, uttering a new word is what people fear most. — Fyodor Dostoyeuski

Why is that? Thinking the same 70,000 thoughts (as per research) feels pretty uncreative to me. My hypothesis is that this tends to be the case because we hang out with too many people who are like us. We tend to swap thoughts amongst our crew and so begins my case for why hanging out with totally unexpected people is a good add-on.

Let’s talk about why it is worth it for you to muster the courage to connect with strangers who live different lives.

My podcast journey serves as a great example. Yet, my belief in the power of having the courage to connect with different people is personal.

The courage to connect with people who think differently is the number one skill that I would want to teach my three sons. This skill along with how exactly to talk to strangers to pick up the most useful life lessons and spare yourself avoidable missteps.

I am a Latina based in Sydney, Australia. Who wouldn’t wonder why the heck I am here? You may think: is she married to an Aussie? Had she ever even been before to Aussie? My answer to both questions delivered in a South Bronx/Newburgh-influenced accent is “no.” Ultimately, I am a Queens, NY kid second-generation purebred New Yorker who adores witnessing how other people have chosen to interpret life. My favorite pastime is speaking to people who were born before or after me. If I could create my own Meetup group, it would be called: “The Misfits Minglers.”

So why my penchant for bringing strangers into my life and being open to learning from them? More importantly, why would it be worthwhile for you to bring strangers into your life too?

We are locked into one perspective — our own. And if you want to feel more inclusive then yes we can also access the perspectives shared by our 1st-degree circles. However, our 1st-degree circles to borrow boring LinkedIn lingo tend to be just like us. Adam Grant a Wharton professor agrees. Chances are we are limiting our own potential by merely connecting with our like-minded twins. As twins, we tend to know of the same opportunities and have similar beliefs and thoughts. This limitation is deadly.

I believe it can kill our ability to be creative and innovate anything truly interesting or worthwhile. This “close contact” approach to life is also not going to cut it if you prefer to live a fully expressed creative existence either. As a podcaster, I have scoured the Earth to interview some of the most courageous and often unlike me guests. On An Interview With Melissa Llarena, I have interviewed guests with unique perspectives. My guests have different networks. Many have different thoughts too. Most of us have not walked in the same shoes. Truthfully, my feet are so small that I can’t even imagine any of my guests even fitting into my size five shoes. My dogs are tiny.

Yet, my desire and sincere interest in getting to know different humans is what has helped me become the chameleon that I am. What’s more: letting unexpected people into my life has expanded my personal vision. I know more is possible for myself, my family, and everyone with whom I have shared a Zoom call. So why should you muster up the courage to connect with strangers?

Your perspective alone won’t ever be enough to live the meaningful life you desire.

There I said it. I believe this to be true.

Stop and think about these questions for a few minutes:

  • What if reading a bunch of marriage books to understand how to have a strong partnership won’t be enough? What if you had the courage and ability to open up to a stranger whose relationship you admired? Michelle Ghilotti one of my guests has that and I interviewed her.
  • What if your company will fold because the best industry practices are being used by everyone else? What if you consulted with a CEO in a new industry with different abilities who has unique needs that could spark ideas that’ll work? Joe Biel is taking over the independent publishing world because he is neurodiverse. What if you created your CX in a way that was predictable enough for someone on the spectrum? Can you say competitive edge? Joe is on my podcast.
  • What if you can’t get over trauma nor generational pain on your own or while relying on your family? What if you have to go outside of your comfort zone and talk to a stranger who has been brave enough to share her story and flourish? Suzy Batiz is my hero and also a guest I interviewed.
  • What if someone else can hold you during a tough time when those around you are suffering as well? Grief tends to happen in a tight-knit circle so having the courage to reach farther beyond your closest friends could be valuable here too. Natasha is compassionate and still surviving cancer.
  • What if someone else is a world-class athlete and you can finally get to know one and see just how stupid it had been to believe that jocks were dumb? Phaidra Knight is badass. I was the last kid picked in gym class. I assumed that brainiacs were worth admiring more than physically diesel humans. Damn, I’m wrong there.

It takes courage to look beyond the familiar. This world may seem like a lonely planet. Pun intended. However, if you can muster the courage to connect with people who are unlike you then chances are you will unleash your best self. Isn’t the idea of bringing two unexpected entities the definition of “innovation”? This sentiment doesn’t exclude unexpected perspectives and life experiences. So give this a try: take a new step, utter a new word and be sure you do all of this in relation to a new person.

P.S. I am writing a book to help us all reawaken our human spirit. If you’d like to follow my personal journey or subscribe to my weekly newsletters then sign-up right here. You’ll gain access to my 81 podcast episodes meant to inspire your creativity, courage, and sense of curiosity PLUS I’ll add fries with that by sending you my 9 tips to feel hopeful, empowered, and limitless on your career + life journey. All of this and more are located on the same page. Keep exploring! Life can be fun and filled with wonder even if you alphabetize your spice cabinet or would never tell colleagues you’re addicted to TikTok. I see the inner kid in everyone. You are still magical to me and your dreams should continue to light you up.



Melissa Llarena
Creative Enlightenment

I coach executives on how to dissect & deliver a perfect #jobinterview @TuckSchool Author of №1 #HR interview @Forbes @LinkedIn #mom