Guest Post – Finding Common Ground

Today I’m delighted to introduce you to Tayo Rockson through a guest post — Finding Common Ground. Tayo has a passion to see third culture kids use their diverse backgrounds to make a difference across many spheres of society and in early fall will be hosting a podcast featuring different third culture kids. He also generously read through my book and gave an endorsement! You can read more about Tayo at the end of the post. 


Every 4 years, a variation of a sporting event brings groups of people together, whether it is the World Cup, Olympics, or the Winter Olympics.

These events inspire:

  • cooperation where there might not have been one before

  • hugs with strangers

  • smiles and head nods of acknowledgement from opposing groups and

  • an open door policy from anyone with the game on the TV

If it takes just a simple sporting event to cause people to set aside their differences then maybe more effort should be spent on finding common ground instead of emphasizing differences. 

I have lived in 5 countries across 4 continents and each time I move I realize I have a choice: I can either emphasize our differences, or find common ground. Here are some of the ways I’ve learned to find common ground in the place where I currently live – New York City.

Say Hi With A Smile: This does wonders for people especially ones having bad days. It also makes you appear welcoming and approachable.

Ask How Their Day Was: If you follow up that “hi” with a “how was your day?”, you might be on to some communication gold. The trick here though is not to say “how was your day” and walk away. Make sure you look him or her in the eye and have your shoulders squarely facing the person when asking the question. You will come across as someone who cares genuinely for them and easy to talk to.

Ask Where People Are From: Everyone has a story to tell and you can often hear that story by asking where they come from. Stories are important because they give you a glimpse of who people are. This a great way to understand someone and withhold judgement because you know why they think the way they do. Also, this is often reciprocated by them asking you same question. CONNECTION!

Be Complimentary: This has everything to do with being observant. Pay attention to the people around you and you will be able to notice different things that they do or wear. If you make it a mission of yours to just pay attention to people then you will notice the subtleties in their lives.

Learn Phrases, Sentences, And Mannerisms In Foreign Cultures: This is SO important for one to be accepted in foreign lands because it gives foreigners the impression that you are making an effort to communicate with them and not just be a tourist. You’ll often find locals more welcoming to you this way.

Turn Ignorance Into Education: When I first came to Virginia for college from Nigeria/Vietnam, my college mates asked me why I spoke such good English and if I lived in huts or walked among lions. Instead of getting angry, I simply told them that lions were not common in that part of Africa and that English is the official language in Nigeria. Education!

I’ll be the first to say that none of this is necessarily easy, but trust me — it’s worth it! 

tayoTayo Rockson grew up in four different continents so he considers himself a citizen of the world. He has lived in Sweden, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Vietnam and the United States and his goal is to ultimately leave the world a better place than it was before he came into it. Once he discovered that he was a Third Culture Kid (TCK), he vowed to use his global identity to make an impact in the world. He tells positive uplifting stories via different mediums and works with people of all sorts to help them become the best version of themselves. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter @TayoRockson or his website where he is actively making new friends every day.



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“My Name is Nwabudike and I am from Nigeria….”

Perhaps you’ve received an email like this: 

“My name is Nwabudike and I am from Nigeria. Please I would like you to keep this proposal as a top-secret and delete it if you are not interested and get back to me if you are interested for details as regards to the transfer of $24,500,000 to you. this money initially belongs to a client who died and had no next of kin in his account-opening package.”

Or like this: 

I am Mrs. Isabel Jose from Spain married to Mr. Joe Armstrong from Sierra Leone for eleven years now, we have three kids … I have a business proposal which I believe that will be a very Good opportunity for both of us so I decided to contact you on this business opportunity in our bank, the business is this I discovered an abandoned sum of 10.500m US dollars (Ten million five hundred thousand united states dollars) in our safety deposit vault that belongs to one of our foreign customer. Who died along with his entire family on 15th April 2005 in a ghastly motor accident along Valencia express way.

Or maybe an email with a more friendly and familiar tone, like this: 

Dear friend
I am Dr Raymond Chien Independent Non-executive Director of Hang Seng Bank Hong Kong I have a business transaction of $44.5 million USD to share with you,If interested contact me for more details via my personal email

We’ve all received them. They come from Nigeria and Spain; Kenya and China. They have a name, a promise of more money than most of us could ever dream of, and often a tragedy thrown in for good measure. They are the famous internet business proposals that we know are false. We laugh at them. We “tsk, tsk” at them. We hit delete. But how many of us have secretly thought, just once, that maybe, just maybe we could outsmart the sender. Maybe we could turn the tables on them and receive something for nothing?

A clever playwright in Chicago did just this with an internet business proposal. In 2009, Steve Gadlin received an email from a Kenyan gentleman. The email was an offer to purchase a play that a Mister Victor Gido had written. The price? $30,000. Thus began an email correspondence that one can guess went to and fro until ultimately Mr. Gadlin purchased an original play for $50.

Here’s how it happened:Mr. Gadlin took the most impossible plot line ever developed in the history of man and asked Mr. Gido to write the play. The plot line was this: “A Millionaire  named Quack Quack Quimby has forgotten the true meaning of the Jewish Holiday Tu Bishvat. His daughter goes to great lengths to remind him of its meaning and make him happy once again”. The result?  The result was “The Nairobi Project“.

I heard of this play through my son and daughter in law, Lauren. Lauren, an actor in Chicago, played the role of one of Mr. Quimby’s daughter’s, Avital. Much to my disappointment, I never saw the play but the idea is outrageously funny and clever. The business proposal ultimately entertained audiences in Chicago by providing an unusual and completely original play at the cost of a mere $50.

There are critics who claim that Mr. Gadlin is exploiting our Kenyan friend. To this accusation Mr. Gadlin brings up a fair argument – just who was exploiting who? One can assume that this was not the first email that Mr. Gido had sent to solicit customers for his writing skills.  Mr. Gadlin paid a man who willingly jumped at the opportunity (in fact, suggested the idea himself) a mutually agreed upon fee. In return Mr. Gido received name recognition for a play that was put up in Chicago, a major city of the United States and described as “America’s most flourishing independent theater hub” For an aspiring playwright this is amazing.  How many people wait for years to get their big break – to have their plays noticed by producers?

An anonymous ‘someone’ is behind every one of these internet proposals. They are not created out of thin air. Someone writes them, casting a net out into a world-wide pool of potentially desperate takers. So what if most of us delete them? All they need is one and the anonymous someone walks away happy while the desperate kick themselves as they go through the nightmare of trying to replenish their now empty bank accounts

So next time you get one of those emails, take a look! If Mr. Gadlin could turn it into a real-live money-making opportunity, there may be some hope!

What are some of the business proposals you’ve received via email? Share your favorites in the comment section!