Weekend Journal — Social Capital

Weekend Journal — Social Capital

I threw a BBQ last night.

The food and drink, though not cheap, was delicious. All of the guests complimented me on my ability to bend smoke and heat to my will and tame the fibers of a beef brisket. Really I did this because my wife decided she wanted to have a party for friends and family, but it got me thinking about the concept of social capital.

Do I trade food for friends? No.

Do I think giving someone a slice of brisket will necessarily endear me to them? Nope.

Even if there’s lots of free beer to go along with it? Nah.

Do I think good things happen when you bring people together and help cross polinate your social groups and try to find commonalities among them?

You bet your brisket I do.

Remember, you don’t have to have a reason to hang out with friends. But putting a little extra effort into being a valuable connector (yes, even as an engineer) can have lots of great consequences in your personal and professional life. We’re still just humans, after all.

Plus, who doesn’t like brisket?


“Plus, who doesn’t like brisket?” Half my family are vegetarian, and even the meat eaters are not that fond of brisket unless it has been stewed slowly for at least 4 hours.

It is considered extremely gauche here in Santa Cruz to invite people to a meal and not provide vegetarian options, unless you know that they are all carnivores. (If you are grilling, then Tofu dengaku is a reasonable option to include.)

On the basic principle of having informal get-togethers with food as a way to build collaborations—I couldn’t agree more.

Haha, Californians.

But seriously, we had vegetarian options. And if you cook a brisket for anything less than 8 hours, everyone will be asking for the veggie options (I smoked it for 4, in the oven on low for 5). You send your family to Ohio and I’ll show them how Texas BBQ is done.

So does your grill have an electronic controller :)?

I like making connections to. Most of mine are made through email and commenting on blogs. I also like to cook and people seem to enjoy having a meal together.

I don’t believe I’ve had a real Texas barbequed brisket. Sounds good. I have had Tennessee barbequed pork and it is quite good.

I must say that this article is very interesting. It’s simple, yet profound, and it can apply to almost anyone.

I’ve only seen events like barbeques as something done with people a person knows like friends, family, and associates. This article has gotten me interested in throwing a cook-out of my own with a few of my social groups (perhaps my friends, co-workers, and football team) and ask them to bring a few friends with them.

My only problem is that I’m the quiet, socially awkward kind of guy who is uncomfortable at social events. Do you have advice for those people who find conversations and gatherings like these challenging?

Hi Drew,

I know the feeling. I think at events you throw, you have the awesome position of already being the person that everyone knows. So you are whom everyone looks to in order to connect with others. In doing so, I often forget about my own social anxiety. Plus, it’s kind of like a game. You try and find all the ways that people you know overlap. A good example was I was talking to one friend who mentioned he was working on his house and I was able to turn to another friend who didn’t know him and bring him into the conversation because he was a wood worker. After that, it’s just a matter of practice. Good luck!


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