Opening lines aren’t just for dating – they come in handy when you’re looking for new friends, too.
Today’s guest, Leah Wiseman Fink, says she likes to use this line: Do you want to come over for pizza? Yes, it helps that Leah is also the co-owner of Brooklyn-based pizza chain, Williamsburg Pizza, but it’s a great opening line anyone can use.
Leah is a life coach, business coach, co-owner of Williamsburg Pizza and mom of two kids. She grew up in a big Jewish family in the midwest, where everybody was together all the time. When she moved to New York 20 years ago, she found herself creating something very similar for her and her family.
Community building is a skill – but once you learn it, it stays with you forever. Leah’s advice? Just start. Give out your number. Ride the waves.
In this episode you’ll hear about:
- Leah’s background growing up in a big family where aunts, uncles, and cousins lived closeby, and the “show-up-as-you-are” kind of gatherings they had
- How becoming a parent acted as a catalyst for Leah to create community in Brooklyn, and the recurring, casual gatherings she partakes in
- Good opening lines and tried-and-true activities for making parent friends; for example: do you want to come over for pizza? Can I give you some hand-me-downs?
- Using the internet (social media in particular) as a method to make friends, and how to fit friend time into busy schedules, from working out together to family sleepovers
- The different ways you can show up for people, from sending food to spending time together – and how specificity can add an extra touch
Not everyone wants the kind of “happy chaos” community Leah has. Think about the kind of community that would suit you. What would it look like? How could you build it using some of Leah’s tips?
“I think it was having my first son, and realizing that that family that I described, that I grew up with, was not existent in Brooklyn. Okay, now, what are you going to do? It was shockingly hard, how hard it was to be a mom without family around. And I kind of just looked around me. And I was like, okay, now what? I started gathering friends. One friend, the first friend I made as a mom: we were both pregnant, and we’re at the gym together. And I was kind of like, You’re pregnant. Let’s be friends.”
“You might ask for the number of the playground, and that ends up not being your best friend. You go out for coffee twice, and they’re not your person. So do it again. Maybe you’re trying to do the recurring thing, and you do it three times, and it falls off. Okay, then try something else. So I would say, those are my three steps. Just start. Put yourself out there. Ride the waves.”
Resources & Links
*I think there is an article supposed to be out about Leah but I can’t find it
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Podcast Intro/Outro 00:02
Alrighty, gang. Here’s to nights that turn into mornings and friends that turn in family. Cheers!
Podcast Intro/Outro 00:18
Hello, Hello, and welcome to the Friendship IRL podcast. I’m your host, Alex Alexander. My friends… They would tell you; I like to ask the hard questions. You know who I am in the group? I’m the person that’s saying, “Okay, I’m going to ask this question, but don’t feel like you have to answer it.” And now, I can be that friend for you, too.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 0:50
Today’s episode is with Leah Wiseman Fink. Leah is, as I like to say, well, she’s doing the thing. She is truly a community builder, not just for herself and her family. But you’ll notice the community is so important to Leah, that she is prioritizing a little bit of her time to help others build community as well. When I first chatted with Leah, she casually mentioned that she grew up in the Midwest with a big Jewish family and everybody was together all the time. This part of her story really caught my attention. Because I think that what she has built today is really similar to what she had growing up. Leah moved to Brooklyn, New York, 20 years ago, and over that time, she has leaned into community and friendship, to create a similar community centric life for her and her family. You know, I’ve talked about this before. I think community building is a skill set. And once you learn that skill set, it stays with you forever. Anytime you want to build a new community to support a new part of your life, you might think to yourself, it’s gonna be a little bit of work. But you know how to do it. So you’re more likely to. And that is what Leah has done time and time again. Now, Leah is a multi-hyphenate, and she’s balancing many different hats in her current season of life. She’s a life coach and a business coach. Leah is the co-owner of Williamsburg pizza, which is a pizza chain based in Brooklyn, New York. She is the mother of two and a wife. She’s also an active moderator for a Brooklyn-based Facebook group called Baby Huey, meant for new parents to meet each other and take those connections out in the real world. She’s an active member of the New York entrepreneur community. Like I said, she’s doing the thing. So let’s dive into today’s episode. Because it is rich with tangible ways you might be able to implement some of this in your own life.
Alex Alexander 2:54
Leah, I’m so excited that you’re here.
Leah Wiseman Fink 2:56
Thanks for having me.
Alex Alexander 2:58
Yeah, I think this is going to be a great conversation.
Leah Wiseman Fink 3:00
I’m excited too.
Alex Alexander 3:02
We were just talking about putting messages on pizza. And then we’re like, we gotta hit record. So I think that’s a great like… can you tell people a little bit about who you are, where you’re from, what you’re doing?
Leah Wiseman Fink 3:13
Sure. My name is Leah Wiseman Fink. I am from Brooklyn, New York. I’m originally from Michigan. But I’ve been here 20 years. So I think that makes me from Brooklyn, New York. I am a mom of two little ones. I am the co-owner of Williamsburg pizza. And I’m also a leadership coach. So those are some of the hats I wear. I think I could name about five more, but let’s go with those for today. Those would be my titles. Yeah.
Alex Alexander 3:43
Yeah, you just… I mean, moral of the story, you got a lot of balls in the air that you are juggling all the time for yourself, your clients, your family, your community, lots of things all at once. So we were just literally talking about how we’re gonna release this episode around the time that an article about you comes out. And you were telling me that because you’re on the pizzeria, one of the ways you love showing up for people is by sending food. Tell me all the creative ways to send somebody a pizza. Like give me some info here because, maybe I should start doing this.
Leah Wiseman Fink 4:20
It’s actually like, absolutely… I mean, again, I have the pizzeria at my fingertips. So for me, it’s like, you know, easier than it might be for someone else. But somebody’s sick or somebody struggling or a new mom or congratulations, sometimes people ask me or I think in my head, like what can I do for them? And two things, one, owning the pizzeria. Two, I’m a Jewish mom. So this also comes naturally to me, like it’s obviously sending food. And I always send pizza because again, that’s at my fingertips, but it just like everybody needs to eat. It warms people’s hearts, it cheers them up and often brings people together. Like, that’s a whole other, right… Like I can, you know, say, a bunch of friends, we haven’t seen each other, maybe they live in different neighborhoods, let’s just all bring the pizza. And you know, someone else has a space and we, you know, could get together. So it really is one of my very favorite tools to use to take care of people and bring people together.
Alex Alexander 5:23
Yeah, I was gonna say at the heart of it, it sounds like community is super important to you.
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Leah Wiseman Fink 5:27
Exactly. Yeah, for sure.
Alex Alexander 5:29
And I mean, pizza makes sense, right? When you got to feed a bunch of people, you order some pizza. And on one hand, like that might seem simple. And like, oh, I just ordered pizza. But there really is just something about having enough that anybody can be there. Like people can keep coming, I think is like underlying, and pizza. And I love that. You know, it’s like you send a friend pizza, who’s a new mom. And if I don’t know, more family are over or something, like there’s enough.
Leah Wiseman Fink 6:02
Yeah, absolutely. Or like, I remember sending pizza to someone who just had knee surgery. And she had a whole bunch of family over taking care of her and like, over for dinner. And it was like… she was like, I just like sobbed when the pizza showed up? Because it was just… it took care of that.
Alex Alexander 6:18
Yeah, I think after our initial conversation earlier, there are people that come on this podcast, and I say that they are, quote, unquote, like “doing the thing”. You know, there’s a lot of people out there who are super overwhelmed by community and friendship and building and like… I mean, I get very basic questions from people just being like, how do I even do this? And then I meet people like you. And in our previous conversation, it’s like, well, one, you kind of just got to do it. But we’ll talk a little bit about how you’ve done that. But two, you just have to decide that it’s important. And when we talked previously, I think something that really stood out to me is that as you mentioned earlier, you grew up in Michigan. And what you told me was that, like family, what was modeled as far as community and supporting each other and it was really family-centric, and then obviously, you moved to Brooklyn, and your family’s not there. Can you talk a little bit about what it was like growing up?
Leah Wiseman Fink 7:19
Sure. It was chaos, but like happy chaos in the best way. There was a time this could be a whole other episode, but I hosted a Sunday night dinner at my house. This is in Brooklyn. And it was like my sister and her wife would always come and then it was whatever other combination of friends, my sister’s friends, someone who was in town would come. And I remember my sister-in-law invited a friend and was like, “Do you want to come to Sunday night dinner?” She said something like, “It’s chaos, but like a happy chaos.” It is something I might be saying it a little bit wrong, but I was like, that pretty much sums it up. That pretty much sums up what it was like growing up in Michigan. It was like, there was one aunt and uncle’s house that we mostly went every Sunday for brunch, that it was any combination of like, I wouldn’t say like less than 20 of us but like from 15 to 25 people, lot of bagels lox, my dad makes a really good lox, onions, and eggs. So that was like a standard. And then you would go to anybody’s Little League game recital band concert. Sometimes there’ll be like think about Tuesday second grade basketball game and maybe there will be like 20 people there all together and 10 of them will be for my family for the one game. And then everyone else and that’s just like how we just showed up to everything all the time, sleeping over at my cousin’s house, like my mom’s sister, like we just slept there most weekends. Like that was just like, you know, that’s what you did. And it was completely the norm I never knew anything different and we all like lived within 20-ish minutes of each other and that’s just exactly how I grew up.
Alex Alexander 9:03
Nobody that can see me when this is audio only, I’ve like had my hand over my heart, like I love this so much and just kind of that like open invite, be there, support each other, casual plans, recurring weekend get togethers, like show up when you can which is probably most weekends because like what else are you really doing? Sometimes there’s stuff but otherwise like, “Yeah, I’ll be there for a while.” Like come as you are, it just makes me so happy. And I want this for people. And like your story is so specific, al those memories, I love it so much.
Leah Wiseman Fink 9:40
Yeah, even like last summer, my dad rented a house in northern Michigan which is like, you know, lakes and hiking and beautiful. And his house is like for 21 people. And the invite was like, okay, who’s coming? Just like who is coming? My parents have been divorced for 20 years. My mom came. And my stepmom was there and her mom was there. My half brothers, it was just like, you know, that’s what it was. Came in and out.
Alex Alexander 10:08
I can very much identify with that. There’s a house of 21 and we’ll fill it. Our friend group does that. Like it’s fine, it’s fine. We’ll get like, people will fill. Somebody will book the house and like, let’s go.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 10:22
Hi, Hello. It’s me, who is over here swooning over this family friend, like show up as you are centric, gathering style, community everything. I’m swooning. But I want to acknowledge that listening to this, this may sound like everything you don’t want. This may sound so overwhelming. It may sound unattainable, it may feel unfamiliar. And that’s okay. Just popping in to say that’s okay. Because I know that this is a narrative that’s like, pushed a little bit as the ideal and it may not be your ideal. And that’s okay. But for other people like me and Leah, it is the ideal. And the one thing I would suggest if this does not appeal to you, is instead of looking at the overall vision, look at the pieces of it. Are there any parts of this that are appealing to you? The answer still might be no. But it also might be that yeah, it would be kind of nice if there was a reoccurring get together at a certain time. Or it would be nice if the kids could swap back and forth between houses. If you could find family or friends or people that you could get close enough with to do that, if that is the case, by the way, go back and listen to episode 28. Pretty positive it’s 28. Go back and listen to episode 28. We talk about slumber parties. Or it might be that it would be nice to have people who show up at those family soccer games. I don’t know what it is. But here’s what I’m saying. If any part of this, being a little more integrated in life, and less overwhelmed by needing to find pockets solely dedicated to seeing your friends where you just pretend you don’t have all these other responsibilities. But instead, doing the work upfront, to be a little more integrated and a little more easy to just show up in each other’s lives on the day to day. Consider if there are parts of that. It doesn’t need to be the whole thing. Or it might. But if you’re overwhelmed, look at the pieces. That’s all I’m trying to say.
Alex Alexander 12:54
Okay, so you had that. Which is I mean, to a lot of people, we still have it, you still have it. It’s just not in a 20 minute drive anymore. Now you’re in Brooklyn.
Leah Wiseman Fink 13:05
Right. I gotta tell you, my son who’s 10 and my sister son who’s 11 talk on the phone every single morning before they go to school. They like have a recurring FaceTime. It’s really cute. If one of them like misses it, the other ones like, “Where are you this morning?” They’re like little events. So they… you know, it’s funny how you can sort of keep it up in a certain way.
Alex Alexander 13:26
And I think that’s such a beautiful example for people to hear. Like, just set it up. Leave it on the table.
Leah Wiseman Fink 13:32
Yeah, the 10 and 11 year old boys are adorable. Yeah.
Alex Alexander 13:37
I mean, also that like what great habit for him to have to know that he can stay connected with somebody long distance. Like we talk a lot about how to model that how t set it up. Because most friendships for kids are out of proximity, like they go to school, and that’s their friends. And then they leave and they never really learned the habits and how intentional you have to be when somebody moves away. So, what a cool example for people to hear.
Leah Wiseman Fink 13:59
Yeah. We’re trying to like, take away some screentime for him, make it, you know, less. And then we figured out like that phone call. We’re like, no, we just aren’t going to take that away. You’re just gonna be able to wake up at 06:30 and talk to your cousin if you want to.
Alex Alexander 14:14
You’re really setting him up in a great way. I love that so much. So you moved to Brooklyn. And I’m guessing that you moved in a time of life, like a season of life, where friendship is really encouraged. And I say that because studies show there’s something called the friendship dip that happens in 30s and 40s for a lot of people. But if you’ve been in Brooklyn for 20 years, I’m guessing you moved there around a time where like, you were going out with friends all the time, you were doing things with friends, people maybe had kids, maybe didn’t and friendship is really like central. Would you say that a lot of the friendships that you built today are from that time of life? Or did you build them maybe a little later in the being in Brooklyn?
Leah Wiseman Fink 15:06
Yeah, that’s a great question. So I moved to New York City when I was 23. Like, almost right after college. I had a lot of those friends from college. And we did act like that, you know, over each other’s houses all the time, out every weekend, you know, friends with friends, and then we all got married. And some of these people are still very dear friends. And I moved to Brooklyn around 2009. So like, six-ish years into being in New York, and actually, it was motherhood, like becoming a parent. I think they’re really… I think the opposite of a dipfor me, honestly. I think it was having my first son, and realizing that that family that I described that I grew up with was not existent in Brooklyn. And okay, now what? Like now, what are you going to do? It was shockingly hard, how hard it was to be a bomb without family around. And I kind of just like, looked around me. And I was like, Okay, now what? And I started gathering the friends. Like there’s one friend… the first friend I made as a mom, we were both pregnant, and we’re at the gym together. And I was kind of like, “You’re pregnant. I’m pregnant. Let’s be friends.”
Alex Alexander 16:20
Like, that’s all you have to do. Yeah.
Leah Wiseman Fink 16:22
Totally. I will never forget like, oh, like, we noticed each other’s bumps. And then we went to… you know, there’s all kinds of mom meetups in the neighborhood, especially in my neighborhood, because it’s like very young families. So we’re like, “Okay, let’s go to that first one together.” And then we kind of like, picked up two other moms who are friends with each other, and then a few more. And that’s how we really formed that first group that we started to emulate, I guess. I mean, when I look at it, like exactly what I had growing up, as in it was a Friday night thing. Friday night thing, somebody’s house. Some people come, some people don’t, no invite necessary. We would have pizza usually. You know what I mean? And then also just like random walk bys, or trips together, that kind of stuff. And it just builds from there. Like, now, I have two kids. So there’s a whole other wave of friends with my second school, of course. You pick up some at school, owning a business, owning businesses, it feels like building on and building on and building on.
Alex Alexander 17:26
Yeah, just like continuing to grow the community again, with all the different hats and roles and versions and pieces of you. And I love what you were saying about like the Friday night recurring, because I think that that’s really a thing. Like, if you’ve been modeled like you were that the ways to get together with people, like the recurring gatherings, the stop by as you are, the casual text messages, like this stuff can be replicated. You can do it. You have to put energy into it. And you obviously had to put yourself out there and invite people and not everyone’s going to join. But for anybody out there who’s like, this sounds dreamy, and I don’t know how I would do it, you just kind of do it. And like once you get comfortable doing it, you can do it again I think.
Leah Wiseman Fink 18:20
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that to the point to that first moment of the one friend at the gym, we’re both pregnant, and just saying like, “What’s your number? Do you want to hang out? Let’s go to the gathering together.” It’s like, I think that first step can really trip people up. But I think that might be the part to concentrate on to like, can I push myself over the hump to do that?
Alex Alexander 18:45
I’m not currently a mom, but I have a number of friends who are and this past weekend, I was with a friend and I’m like always encouraging my mom friends, my friends who are moms, to find mom friends. Like I love them. And I show up and like live my best auntie life. But they also need mom friends. And I’m always like encouraging that and telling them. My friend came to me this week and she was like, “Alex, I straight up asked a mom at the park for her phone number.” And I felt like such a boss. I was so worried and I just had you in my head being like, just do it. Just do it. Just do it. And she asked and she was so proud to tell me and it made me so happy. Because yeah, you just gotta do it. And it’s so uncomfortable.
Leah Wiseman Fink 19:37
It’s so uncomfortable. Because it’s not like when you’re in college and you’re in the same classes and you pass each other or whatever. It’s like no, you have to ask for the number.
Alex Alexander 19:46
Yeah, you have to just be really direct. Like, “Hey, I think we’re having great conversations when I ran into you at the park. Can I have your number? Can we set up a play date? Can I text you about that thing we talked about, you just sharing that recommendation? Can I text you for the link to that?” Or whatever. I mean, it’s something so simple my friend who’s a mom was telling me… I have many friends who are moms but this specific one was telling me that she was talking to another mom and their entire… like the way she kind of befriended her was asking about the configurations of their stroller.
Leah Wiseman Fink 20:21
Alex Alexander 20:23
Yeah, it was really direct, like, “Hey, can I text you? Will you send me a video of how you have that setup with those pieces? Because I might need an adapter.” And like, that’s how she made a friend.
Leah Wiseman Fink 20:32
I love it. Whatever works.
Alex Alexander 20:34
Whatever works. And now they’re like, they have built on that. I love it. But that was a super specific way that she got the ball rolling. Like it’s not always super romantic or dreamy to make these friends.
Leah Wiseman Fink 20:50
Totally. I mean, I have to admit that I have the most easy in. I say, “Would you like to come over for pizza?” So like, I cheat. Mine is a complete cheat. But yeah, whatever works. Your stroller, do you have hand-me-downs? Can I give you hand-me-downs? Like there’s a variety of ways that you can make connections. This class, I heard there’s a good music class, let’s go together. You just find a way.
Alex Alexander 21:14
Because I don’t know if you have a cheat. I think you’ve just figured out like your opening line. And everybody else has an opening line. I don’t know. Like, I think of friends who have like a, what is it, like one of those blow up bounce houses in their basement. Like, “Hey, you want to bring your kid over to play the bounces?” Like, that is your opening line.
Leah Wiseman Fink 21:31
I mean, that’s a very good one, too. Yeah.
Alex Alexander 21:34
Like, figure out what your opening line is.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 21:38
Confession. I have never been on dating apps. You’re like, “Alex, why the heck is that relevant?” I’ll get there, one second. See, Michael and I met in college before dating apps. We are about to celebrate our 14th year together. So the story I’m about to tell you is not about me and Michael dating. I’ve never had this experience. But thinking back, my friends when they were in their prime of dating, I guess, when they were… maybe they were taking dating seriously. And it was a numbers game. They were going out on first date once a week, twice a week. They didn’t have the energy to be thinking of new spots every time they suggested a first date. So instead, they had, I don’t know, maybe three, four, tried and true first date options in their rotation they used depending on the situation. They probably had that sushi spot for happy hour, they had another dinner spot. They had a brewery that worked well for a weekend midday. They probably had like one activity. And they would rotate through, they would suggest going to those places. I mean, honestly, some of them used to joke about how the people that work there probably knew them at this point, because they were there so frequently with different people. How does this relate to this episode? Well, I think that this idea of an opening line and a couple of tried and true suggestions, is pretty genius. Now that I’ve listened back, especially for parents, trying to make friends, parents who have so many balls up in the air, who are juggling all sorts of things, I get how you might meet some other parents out and about. And the energy it takes to think of what you might enjoy doing together is a lot. You don’t have time for that. But if you spend some energy right now, or in the next couple of days, coming up with a few tried and true options, then you can just start throwing those out. You just make the suggestion. So an example, I went on a walk with a friend of mine now. Her and I are old friends. But she has a new baby. She’s a cutie, by the way. And she told me, she said, “You know, I would love to get together. I go on a walk, rain or shine every day between 9:30 and 11. Just pick a day and tell me, I normally start my walk from here.” Great. I gave her a date, we met up. It could be that there is a park in your neighborhood and you tell someone, “Hey, I normally go there, I don’t know, at 3pm most days. So just send a text and we can meet up there.” Could be my suggestion of the bounce house in your backyard. Say that it’s open on the weekends, like text on a Saturday. Let’s get together. Come up with a couple of tried and true suggestions. Have them in your back pocket because then you don’t have to use the energy to come up with a new one every time and also, it often takes a few offers. It takes a few reach outs. And if you are putting energy into each time coming up with a new activity, you’re less likely to continue inviting someone out if it doesn’t work the first time. And with parents, we know that the likelihood of things overlapping is lower. So, pick your options. And then you can give the invite a couple times with less energy on your part. So that hopefully, it lines up.
Alex Alexander 25:26
There is a group that you told me about that was really impactful in you making friends. Is that the Huey* group?
Leah Wiseman Fink 25:35
Oh, yes. So that’s a group when I said, I met my friend at the gym, I was like, you have a bumper bump, we’re having babies. The Huey* group in my neighborhood. It’s like, I think there’s 7000 people on it, parents. And then they break off into… you have a summer baby or a fall baby or winter baby. And then in those groups, it’s like, okay, let’s all meet up at the park. Let’s all do X, Y, and Z. So from that first round, we went to that Huey* summer babies 2013 meetup. And that’s where we found our other first mom couple, and then another, and then another. Yes, that was really, really impactful.
Alex Alexander 26:16
That’s great. And I have other episodes out there, for anybody that’s listening about this. It’s like how to use the internet, as a filter to make friends, you can go find groups like that, where whether it’s mom friends, or entrepreneur friends or podcaster friends or whatever your filter is that you’re currently looking for. Go find that in groups. Quite often, what people tell me is, “Is that what you’re saying? Like Facebook groups? And then showing up to those?”
Leah Wiseman Fink 26:48
Yeah, exactly. I don’t know if we talked about this before. But now I am one of the moderators of that big group. And I make those small, seasonal groups. And the reason I do it, it’s actually kind of a pain and time-consuming. But I know that it’s so so valuable, that I just want to make sure that people have it, that people are able to go to those meetups and meet each other and make the best friendships and lifelong friendships and build a support system like I did. And I’m not trying to brag to say that I do that. But I just like, as a person who’s juggling 5000 things, it’s like 5001. That’s like so important to me that I’ll always keep doing it.
Alex Alexander 27:32
I don’t think that’s a brag. I mean, I think that just goes back to community is very important to you. And you’ve seen the impact this has in your life. Like you want to help other people do that first step and like, not everyone is out there. I mean, hence the point of this podcast. Like, you would maybe be surprised because you’re doing this very naturally. But the number of people who messaged me and are like, “I’ve never ever considered using a Facebook group to make friends. Like, can I really make in person friends that way?” And I’m like, “Listen, a lot of people are doing that. Like that is something that’s working for people, whether it works for you or not, it’s probably worth a try.” Like, I just think it’s great that you are still doing it, because it just shows how important you think it is to help people, like set them up for success.
Leah Wiseman Fink 28:17
Yeah, for sure. And I think another thing for people to remember is, it doesn’t stay that you’re Facebook group friends. I mean, maybe because you ask people questions, but lonce you are up to the point where you’re meeting people in person, right? And then you’re like finding your people, like now it’s real friendship and not online group chat friendship. It’s like, okay, that is a vehicle you use to find your people. And that’s amazing.
Alex Alexander 28:45
It’s just a tool that helps get you to what you want. Like another way to go about that would be to… I mean, this is something I’ve done, like, say, when you’re out and about in your day, you know, I’m looking for other mom friends who are entrepreneurs. I’m looking for other mom friends who stay at home, or have the flexibility to meet up in the middle of the day. Like, get really specific and say that to people. Or you can search online, like both are ways to do it. Both are a little uncomfortable. But if you’re out here, put yourself out there. You do have some mom entrepreneur friends. That was a specific thing you were looking for at one point. Right? You want to talk a little bit about, like deciding that’s something you needed and how you went out and sought out that specific group?
Leah Wiseman Fink 29:46
Sure. Actually, that’s a group I was saying that I was out with last night that I was like, oh, this is such a friend filled weekend. And then such a happy coincidence that we’re recording today. So when I was starting my business and that was 2017, I had just had my second child and I was jumping out of… I was working in the school systems. And it was actually kind of like not the most pretty jump out, I got pushed out of job on maternity leave, podcast for another day. But I really wanted to be in the communities of people doing this. I mean, specifically mom entrepreneurs, because like, I knew that was my people, but I just like, didn’t have any friends doing this at the moment. And the first step in like, as we’re talking about, like going up to someone at the playground, and asking for their number, like something like that. A friend who was an acquaintance at the time, we had not even met in person, said on Instagram, “I’m speaking on this panel, I have an extra ticket. Do you want to come?” And I was like, “Sure, why not?” Wrote her back, signed up to go. She’s amazing and lovely. And you know, I remember being in that room and just being like, yes, like, my business was like, not even… it was like a seed. It was an idea. But I was in this room with people. This acquaintance now friend was speaking on a panel, I met a few other people who are now like my close friends, but like, just people like doing the thing, I just threw myself in the room.
Alex Alexander 31:17
Yeah, you just showed up and started interacting with people and… but I think the thing that I love about that story is like you knew the rooms you were trying to show up in, which kind of goes back to that like filter piece. You gotten even more specific than just like, I want mom friends. And then when you got the invite, you said yes. That’s the other key piece here. Like saying yes. Not always, not always. But like when you’re trying to build those friendships, you have to show up in the beginning. Like that’s a super specific group to want. How do you think that’s, like impacted your life to have a group? Maybe that’s specific, like who gets it all the things you’re juggling as much as they probably do?
Leah Wiseman Fink 32:02
Now we think about it, it was funny. Because actually one of the women is from that specific event. Another I met at another event, another I met in a writing class. So it’s kind of like they were pulled from all these places. And then we all wove together, the backgrounds and they’re busy. We’re not… none of us are in the same business. But I think it’s kind of similar to like, you meet people in the Facebook group, and then you take it offline. And then you just form the real friendships, right? Like, what are people working with in their business? What are they struggling with? Not only business, but like family, health, fun, like all of the things and then you just become like, IRL, we go on vacations together, we get our families together, we text all day. It was actually during the pandemic, that that particular group, we became friends not super long before that, but it was a text chain. It was like, you know, 500 texts a day. Text chain just being like, “What’s everyone doing?” “I’m hiding in the closet for my kids.” “When is it safe to go back to school?” Like that whole thing. And that just like, really, really gelled us together.
Alex Alexander 33:11
Yeah. I mean, not feeling alone in a very, very, very intense time where everybody’s in a very similar situation. And just like being there for each other, even though you weren’t even physically in the same space. But also with like the promise that knowing that when you could be in the same space, we were all looking forward to, oh my gosh, I can’t wait until we can go sit down and debrief and process this thing overall going through together.
Leah Wiseman Fink 33:45
Yes. I mean, I think we’ve been processing it since. But yes, I actually do remember it. I do remember the first reunion sort of that, you know, we did it actually without our families, just like girls weekend, and it was… it was amazing. But yeah, there was like a whole lot of build-up to that.
Alex Alexander 34:04
So when somebody’s listening to this, and they are thinking like, oh my gosh, okay, Leah is a business owner, a mom, an active community member, an engaged friend… I mean, a million other leadership coach, you’re doing all these things. How does she have time for friends? What would your answer be?
Leah Wiseman Fink 34:27
The first thing that pops into my head is that you make the time. You just have to put it on your calendar like you put on a podcast recording, coaching session, time to do your taxes and also, friend time. Now for me, it’s like I look forward to that. The group that was… dinner last night, my friend was in town. So I was like, “Who can do dinner Sunday night?” Absolutely 100% make my way from Brooklyn to the Upper West Side and you make the time. I’m always happy I did. I think my answer number two is a really supportive partner, especially like as a mom with kids and a family and… and a job is like, I feel lucky about this. And also I reciprocate, but that if I wanted to go to the Upper West Side on a Sunday night, like he’s great taking over and doing whatever he needs to do. Actually, last night, he had a work thing too. So a cousin, I have a cousin who lives in the city who I just dropped them off with the best time ever. That reminds me of like family Michigan. She’s from Michigan, too. But so yeah, making the time for it, finding the support, sometimes paying for the support. Like sometimes I pay for babysitters, or whatever. I’ve so many answers to this, I could go on.
Alex Alexander 35:44
I mean I think you should… no, but I think you should go on because like, I have more questions about this. So many people, time is one of the biggest reasons people either aren’t making friends, aren’t seeing friends, like time and I have my answers. But I’m just one person. Like I think crowdsourcing has many answers. Like one thing that might be there, like how much of your friendships are recurring? Like, do you have a lot of recurring things that happen with friends? You have the text messages, like that’s a consistent…
Leah Wiseman Fink 36:16
Yeah. And those happy hours, those Friday nights, those kind of went away, because during the pandemic, a lot of people left. The Sunday nights also during the pandemic, that kind of disappeared. So I mean, seeing people drop off, for sure. That’s a good one. Actually, during the pandemic, of course, that’s not going to surprise you made a whole other group of friends. During the pandemic, we moved out to Long Island, because our kids could still go to school there, which was amazing. And I got there and knew no one. So of course, I had to create summer camp where I was, and we were also scared to be inside together. So we did… we called it bonfire. It was Friday night. Same thing, everyone come over as you, don’t come over, whatever. We’re just like a fire and kids would run around. Adults would like snack, drink wine. And you know, that was the recurring thing. We actually do still have that semi recurring link, because a lot of those families are out on weekends. So that’s the answer to what’s recurring right now. I also find that the recurring things they come in phases. Like that Friday Night Happy Hour was, I don’t know, maybe five years of it. And then it’s sort of dropped off. The Sunday night dinner, my sister and wife moved to Jersey, so it’s just… and now they have kids. So it’s such like, a little bit harder. So I actually like have to remember to go with the flow of what is recurring at the moment. And then you know, maybe it pauses for a while maybe we’ll pick it back up again, you know, bonfire pause when we all left Long Island, but now we do it like on the weekends when we’re out there. So just being able to sort of like ride the waves of those. It’s hard sometimes. I remember the last bonfire, I was sobbing. It’s like, no, I created the whole summer camp, and now the summer camp is over, which it’s very much the feeling of when the summer is over.
Alex Alexander 38:07
Yeah. And I mean, we have a number of recurring things like we have a… we call like a family brunch, but it’s friends. And again, like the pandemic kind of killed it. And it’s back. But the effort to get it back was harder than the first time because now our phases of life are different. We’re balancing other things. So, everybody wanted it back. But it felt like so much more work this time than the first time it existed. And it’s different now. And like, who knows how long it’ll last? And at some point, it’ll pass on and maybe we’ll find something new. Okay. So the reason I asked the recurring because that removes, I call like friendship admin time, like the time to set it up and make the plans and go back and forth. It’s just like, here’s the time, so you’re not doing that as much. So you really are investing, it sounds like, a good amount of time in setting things up. Or maybe this is something because you’re seeing people like at drop off and at places because you’re present with a lot of these people that you’ve built community with? Is it more just that it’s easier to see people because when you see them at drop off, you’re like, “Hey, we’re going to this thing on Friday, if you want to go”? Do you think that helps you with time at all?
Leah Wiseman Fink 39:27
Yeah, for sure. I do think that’s… and it’s just like, we don’t have to like build up to it or was just like, “Okay, send me a text, I’ll send you the ticket. Like you know, we’ll be there.” You know, I’m familiar with like so many people. Here are some other of my tricks for times and friends. I love working out with people because I work out anyways and like often I could just like text one of my best friends who lives next to the gym and just be like, “Okay, nine o’clock, see you there.” Then usually like we’ll walk home together, grab a coffee after and it’s like… I just like love that. Sometimes cowork dates, if I’m not on calls all day, like, we can just like be in the same place and be on our computers and chat in between and have lunch. Like, I absolutely love that. Another thing as a mom is like doing things with the kids together, like everybody needs to feed their kids dinner. So like, why not just like bring them all to somebody’s house, and feed them and then we can have the time together and then it sort of combines them. Same with like… like a weekend together. Often I can have people at the house in the North Fork, but also like I have a friend in Brooklyn who is just like always like having sleepovers with other families. Like that’s amazing. You get in at 24 hours of time. Your kids are having fun with each other, are entertained and like, you know…
Alex Alexander 40:43
Oh, I do. We love a sleepover. We have like friends who come and stay at our house all the time. We stay at their house. And like multiple sets of friends we do this with. We love doing it. I actually have an episode about a family and some of their closest friends. They do like family sleepovers, they swap houses. They don’t want some on… it’s like a full weekend. Yeah, I have an episode, like sleepover is underrated. And you’re saying like the dinner, right? Like, it’s kind of chaotic at home anyways.
Leah Wiseman Fink 41:14
Exactly. Exactly, exactly. Combine the chaos. You know, you get friend time and everybody’s pretty much happy. One of the things I love about the weekend or the sleepover is like, some friends who maybe are in my direct neighborhood that I don’t see at a drop off, or the gym or whatever, it’s like, okay, we can do this weekend. And it feels like you’re caught up on six months in one shot. And then it’s kind of like, you know, you still like call and text and catch up. But like…
Alex Alexander 41:42
There’s something about just like, being really present, like existing together for a couple days that, yeah I think, is so impactful. That would require like 10 dinners out in a restaurant to get the same feeling of connection.
Leah Wiseman Fink 42:01
Exactly. Yeah, I love that.
Alex Alexander 42:03
That’s why we love them too. It’s kind of like immersive. Like, I really do get to see our friend’s life and their routine and what they do and where they go and like same if they come and stay at our house. It’s like actually getting a real snapshot, maybe the way you did when you were younger, and like in each other’s houses all the time kind of thing that we just maybe don’t get as adults quite as much anymore.
Leah Wiseman Fink 42:32
Yeah, my favorite time of that is like, the waking up time where everyone’s just like drinking their coffee, there’s nothing to do. You’re just like… I don’t know, kids are playing with trains, like, just is. We all do it every morning. Don’t think about it, but like, then you’re doing it together.
Alex Alexander 42:48
We have the same favorite time of those hang outs. Yeah. And like, I’m always one of the early risers. So, I love to see like who comes down first, right? Because there’s… sometimes a bunch of people show up the same time. But sometimes it’s like, one person and we’ll be sitting there and I actually get, I don’t know, 30 minutes with one friend, but I don’t know who it is. I don’t know who it is. Or could be a kid. And now I’m reading books on the floor. Because that’s the other joy. Like we’re… obviously don’t have any kids that like… friends stay at our house. It’s just like, “Oh, well. Auntie Alex is downstairs. We’re gonna lay in bed a little bit longer.”
Leah Wiseman Fink 43:30
Oh, the best. From a parent perspective, that’s just like pure gold.
Alex Alexander 43:35
Well, and for me, it’s like, I love getting one on one time with the kiddos. You know, I’m like, okay, I don’t really know exactly. Again, like figuring it all out. Right? Do you eat breakfast immediately when you wake up? Like is a kid… do you eat in an hour? I don’t know. So I’m like, awkwardly offering snacks and like… like, you know, do you want to read a book? Do we want to play with trains? I don’t know. But I like figuring it out. Because I’m learning about my little niece or nephew. And like, they’re fine. They’re safe. They’re good. But like I’m, you know, I’m just like trying to figure out who they are. It’s like a fun… it’s a fun thing that I wouldn’t get otherwise necessarily, if I just went and… went for dinner for an hour and a half and left. And I cherish those moments. So one other thing I think in thinking about your broad community, and all the other balls you have up in the air, what is your take on like showing up for people? Like a number… you have a number of people to show up for.
Leah Wiseman Fink 44:40
That’s a great question. I think that there’s so many different ways you can do it. Obviously my favorite way is in person if I can. You know, I try my very hardest to be at the weddings in the funerals. I usually am. I usually can make it. And I think if I can’t or if someone can’t, there’s so many other ways. I mean, sending food I said is one of my favorite ways, but also just keeping in touch with somebody, there’s often that like… you check in with somebody for a week or two weeks. I really find that it’s like, the plus two weeks, right? Plus one month, plus six months, that is really important remembering, you know, if I’m thinking about it, like if somebody has passed away, a birthday, or anniversary, like those types of things. Those are always to show up for somebody. Sending things in the snail mail is something I like to do if something like made me think of you or… or even like a text that’s a picture of something that, you know, reminds me of you. So like, I think that those are all ways that we can show up for each other and stay present for each other. You know, you can be really creative like my son and my nephew talking on the phone every single morning. Right? Like it’s… you know, you can be really creative about it.
Alex Alexander 45:58
The thing I love about your answer is that the way that I think you’re looking at this takes a little pressure off of the panic when something happens. Feeling like because you have all these balls up in the air, you have to like drop everything to be there that first week. Because you’ve given yourself permission, like it’s okay, other people do that. Like, if they’re not gonna be alone, I will show up. Like it might be in a couple weeks or four months, it makes it easier. I would think to kind of integrate that in because you can prepare for it a little bit more. And it’s more sustainable.
Leah Wiseman Fink 46:31
Yeah. And could also… I mean, I don’t think this is in every case or every situation, could also be as valuable or more valuable than… you know, I think about a friend who lost a parent, and I couldn’t make it to the funeral, which was, you know, that weekend or next weekend. And at the same time, that week, or that weekend, I made a trip, I made a plane ticket to say like, okay, I’m coming,.I forgot, if it was like, three months or six months, and just being like, I’m gonna fly to you and spend the weekend in December, right? And just like, you know, we’ll be together and mark the moment. And I think it’s the intention of like, I’m doing this, it’s not maybe the traditional way. But it is a way and again, like could be three or six months. Could be like the time when the flowers stop showing up, and the cards… you know, whatever. And things are wrapped up in a bow. So I think that you can be creative. And it can be really powerful,
Alex Alexander 47:31
Super powerful. And like you are showing up in parameters that also allow for you to not have to drop everything in your life. And I love that you call that being intentional, because that’s something I talk a lot about is like, quite often, we’re just trying to follow what we should do. And sometimes that can be like really overwhelming or it’s not your strength, or it just doesn’t fit in your life right now. So like taking a moment to think about what actually is impactful here? Like what do I have capacity for and pausing can save you so much time trying to do things that maybe aren’t even the right fit.
Leah Wiseman Fink 48:11
And I’m also just thinking about, like thinking outside of the box about what you can do. I mean, a friend recently invited me over during a hard time. Invited me over and was like… it was a sleep over, “Do you want to sleep over? And I’ll rub your shoulders and make you breakfast.” And I was like that is like the nicest… honestly, like as a mom juggling a billion things, I wouldn’t even have like thought of that as a invitation, a thing to do… like, I would have sent pizza because that’s what I do. But I was like, that is just the kindest and most specific… I really like things that are specific, you know, when you make an offer, but it just like really hit home. I was like, wow, that is like a really kind, intentional, thoughtful offer.
Alex Alexander 48:59
Very specific. And I love that because yeah, like in order to be that specific, she must have spent time thinking about what might be nice for you and what she could provide and what sounded right for her. And the added bonus of like, some quality time together, which never hurts. Like that’s always lovely but besides breakfast.
Leah Wiseman Fink 49:21
Right? Right, you and I already talked about that coffee, X, reading on the floor time, which is just the best.
Alex Alexander 49:29
So we… if somebody’s out there, and they want to build kind of that… I mean, I’m not I’m gonna say like how to make a friend, you have really built this thriving, broader support system around you that supports you in a variety of ways. And you support those communities in a variety of ways. And you’ve done something that a lot of people just like don’t think is possible which just kind of emulates that family feeling once you’ve moved away from family for whatever reason, what would you say to somebody who wants to start trying to build that for themselves?
Leah Wiseman Fink 50:16
I would say, just start. Well, two things. One, if what I have is something you want, and maybe not everybody wants it, or like, maybe it’s something within it, right? Like, I want a group of mom friends, or I want one best friend, or whatever it is. So I would say… or I want a massive spiderweb of all these communities, you don’t even like… maybe that’s the thing you want. One, try and define it, what is it you want really. And then two, just start. Just ask for the number at the playground, just join the Facebook group. Just like you said, speak out loud, you know, anyone who has time during the day to meetup. Just show up, put yourself in the rooms. And also, there will be times going from point A this is like what you want, you’re starting from zero. Also knowing that you might have some setbacks in it. Right? You might ask for the number of the playground, and that’s… that ends up not being your best day, right? You go out for coffee twice, and they’re not your person. So do it again. Right? And you make your time to do the recurring thing, and you do it three times, and it falls off. Like okay, then try something else. So I would say like, that’s my three step… is just start, put yourself out there, ride the waves, and have the vision for it at the very beginning. I said that out of order. But I think it makes sense.
Alex Alexander 51:45
Yeah. And I will say for anybody who is listening to that, like I really firmly believe that this is a skill set. Like you get used to being a little uncomfortable asking for the phone number. You get used to reflecting on what you want, because that’s going to change over time. You get used to creating the recurring things and letting them go to doing the friend admin and then having a season of life where it’s just like really not sustainable for you to do that. Because you just have to prioritize other things and then coming back to it. Like doing this stuff builds familiarity. And I think that is so important. Because if you move again, if things change, if you have some big life pivot, like you can rebuild. I don’t know how much I’ve talked about this story on the podcast, but that family brunch group, at a certain point, we’re very lucky. We’re lucky we had… so many of us lived locally here in Seattle, that those family brunches, if everybody came, were probably like, 25-30 people. And we had five sets of friends move away in a six month period. And I just remember being like… because I love like that big group feeling and what you’re saying, like the inviting people to things and whatnot. And I just remember having this moment being like, obviously very sad. But realizing like I can build this again. There’s no reason I can’t… we can’t connect with people or friends of friends or like, bring people in. Like, I know how to do the work to do this again. So for anybody who’s like, that’s a lot of effort, it’s a skill set. And it’ll last you forever to build what you want. Yeah, this has been a really rich episode. There are so many, like specific examples, but also just like new ways of thinking. And I really appreciate all of your shares. If you were to leave guests with just like any final things you want to say to anybody?
Leah Wiseman Fink 53:47
I mean, I think I said it like 15 times, but I think just starting, just starting, give out your number. Join the group, put yourself in the room. I think if friendship and community is something you’re really looking for, that’s like the key.
Alex Alexander 54:03
Right. Leah, thank you so much for being here.
Leah Wiseman Fink 54:06
Thank you. I feel like we could talk like five more episodes.
Alex Alexander 54:10
I’ll keep that in mind. Go for what you ask for.
Leah Wiseman Fink 54:15
This is so great. It was such a great conversation. I loved talking to you.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 54:18
This episode was so rich with specific examples, and takeaways, I mean, actionable things you can go implement in your life. I love these kinds of episodes. Let’s review some of the takeaways you might have had today. Number one, think about what you want. It doesn’t have to look like what Leah has built. Doesn’t have to look like what I’ve talked about on this podcast. Forget all the shoulds. I think it should look and think about what you want it to look like. Spend some time thinking about that. What are you trying to build? Number two, think about some of your opening lines. Do that homework now, so that when the moment presents itself, you aren’t scrambling, you’re ready to go. Number three, decide that this is a priority. Make space for it. Put yourself out there, decide that when the opportunities do present themselves, you’ll try and figure out a way to say yes to the invite. And number four, now that you’ve figured out what you want, put yourself in those places. Join the Facebook groups or become a regular at a local park or spot or group. And finally, just do it. Just do the thing. Don’t come at me, Nike. I want to thank Leah so much for this episode. Just naturally, she gave so many examples that we can all implement in our lives. Even if you’re not a parent. I mean, I have so many takeaways from this episode, and I’m not currently a mom. So with that, as you can see, she is doing the thing. She’s putting herself out there, she is actively building community in so many areas of her life and not just for herself but for others. You should go, one, join her newsletter, head to her website. We’ll link it in the show notes, leahwisemanfink.com and sign up for her newsletter because looking back at her archives, some of her most recent newsletters are about mom friends and building community. And number two, go give her a follow on Instagram, @leahwisemanfink. With that, I’ll talk to you next week.
Podcast Intro/Outro 56:38
Thank you for listening to this episode of Friendship IRL. I am so honored to have these conversations with you. But don’t let the chat die here. Send me a voice message. I created a special website just to chat with you. You can find it at alexalex.chat. You can also find me on Instagram. My handle, @itsalexalexander. Or go ahead and leave a review wherever you prefer to listen to podcasts. Now if you want to take this conversation a step further, send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting. And use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out. No need for a teary Goodbye. I’ll be back with a new episode next week.