Narratives North America

The Catalyst to Building Meaningful Relationships

By Shivank Taksali

Countless chemical reactions occur in the human body every second of every day. These are made possible with the help of biological catalysts called enzymes. Enzymes reduce the activation energy required for a chemical reaction to take place.

Similarly, we encounter a multitude of human interactions in our day-to-day routine. Shared experiences act as the enzymes of our social world to develop new relationships.

Let’s consider, for example, the week I spent in Costa Rica on a Startup Island trip. 18 individuals embarked on a journey to the Nicoya Peninsula, on the nation’s Pacific Coast, with a common purpose: to accelerate their lives personally and professionally.

With this alignment in each traveler’s intention, the relationships started to foster at an astonishingly rapid pace. As the travelers convened in the warmth over March break, the seeds of organic human interaction were planted into the fertile soils of their minds.

Conversations by the beach or over breakfast plantains would produce spontaneity, almost as if engineered for serendipity. For example, one of the travelers on my trip was my classmate from Northeastern University, Minnie Chan.

Minnie and I were both taking a course that semester called ‘Business Modeling for Entrepreneurs’ taught by Dr. Oleks Osiyevskyy. Paradoxically, we only realized after traveling to Costa Rica that we had been showing up to the same classroom, same section, and same professor for the past 3 months!

After this epiphany, we had decided to sit next to each other in class following our return to Boston. Having a shared travel experience lowered the activation energy needed to kick off our friendship, in a way the classroom environment would have been incapable of matching.

Startup Island laid the foundation to form friendships that would persist way beyond the trip. For instance, Maya Rafie, who is the founder of bistara and one of our coaches, led a workshop on freelance entrepreneurship & creative thinking.

The trip marked the beginning of my journey with Maya as two individuals who would continue to grow off of each other’s company. Later that year, I moved to Hong Kong for an exchange semester followed by a 6-month stint in Singapore.

We hadn’t seen each other in ages. Nevertheless, when we do get the opportunity to hop on a FaceTime call, we can pick up right where we left off. I can gladly say the same about New York City based Josh Gershon, Chief of Vision at Startup Island.

We were fortunate enough to live on the same coast for over a year until we were abruptly faced with a 13-hour time difference and 8,000 miles of distance between us. Yet we were able to continually experience moments of connection and transcend our bond through two of the greatest human boundaries — time and space.

Friendships with that kind of authenticity and longevity are truly a blessing. They are the ones that make up an integral part of my support system today and would not have been possible without the help of an enzyme.

An enzyme that will facilitate the catalysis of new relationships and push you to grow. An experience that will lower the activation energy required for you to thrive and elevate your life into its highest dimensions. Find your enzyme.


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