I was at a screening tonight of a short film I scored. Afterwards, two friends of the director came up to chat to me and compliment me on my music. I was totally excited and happy and we chatted for a few minutes about the music and I thanked them, before we all got distracted talking to other people who were coming over to say hi to us.

A little later, I found myself standing next to the same two guys again and we struck up another conversation. I asked them how they knew the director, and what they did. To my surprise, one of the guys said ‘I work for Disney writing scripts for their theme parks.’ I was gobsmacked. I am a giant Disney fan. I probed further – and he told me all about what he did. It was absolutely fascinating to me. I told him I was a Disney fanatic who could literally still remember all the lyrics to ‘Under the Sea’ from ‘The Little Mermaid’. We had a giggle. We joked about him hiring me to perform the role of Sebastian if he ever worked on a Little Mermaid exhibit. We got along great. ‘Hey let me give you my details in case you ever do need some music’, I said. ‘Oh yeah! Absolutely! I would love to hear more of your music!’ he said. I handed him my phone and he put in his contacts. He handed it back to me… there was his name (of course) but in the bit where you put the reminder of what someone does and how you know them, he had written ‘Walt Disney Imagineering’.

‘Wait,’ I said. ‘You’re a Walt Disney Imagineer?’
‘Yeah,’ he said modestly, with a little smile, ‘it’s such a cool job, I love it.’
‘Hang on, wait,’ I said. ‘So let me get this straight. Disney PAYS YOU TO COME UP WITH AMAZING IDEAS????’
‘I guess so,’ he laughed.
(Luckily, I have been on a tour of Walt Disney’s offices so I was well versed on the roles and responsibilities of Disney imagineers!).
‘No, seriously,’ I said. ‘That is amazing. If you ever need anything, let me know.’
‘Absolutely!’ he said. ‘Can’t wait to hear more of your stuff!’

Mind. Blown. Had things ended after that first conversation I would NEVER have known that about him, and we would never have even gotten to swapping details. It just took a couple of simple questions to start unraveling a truly fascinating conversation that led us to something meaningful that we could both get excited about.

So I guess the moral of the story is – shifting the focus from myself and being interested, genuinely interested in someone else, and taking the time to ask about their story, opened up a whole new conversation, and a whole new world of possibilities.

So after tonight my new motto is – don’t talk, ask!

I wonder if anyone else has had a similarly illuminating experience along these lines? Would love to hear your stories!