GOOD

This is part two in a three-part series in which Leon Logothetis, a global adventurer and the host of the National Geographic Channel's Amazing Adventures Of A Nobody, sits down at a makeshift advice booth in five neighborhoods around Los Angeles. You can read part one here.

I spent the night before my experiment went operational at the local hardware store building my homemade advice booth. I decided to begin in Beverly Hills, and was feeling intense apprehension about my chances of success. The desert plains of Burning Man could not be further removed from the chic streets of Beverly Hills; however, my first customer was soon upon me and the nerves quickly subsided. A young lady informed me she was deeply in love with her husband but they were in a passionless marriage. I remembered being told that for a relationship to truly succeed a couple needed to find something to jointly feel passion for. They needed to take up something both of them loved. Maybe it was kayaking, photography, or cycling, but something to keep the flicker of love glowing. This is the advice I gave her.

The fact that a stranger simply listened intently and then offered insight into her life, I could see was satisfying to her. To me the beauty was not giving the advice, it was the connection felt in the moment between two strangers. Many of us feel unheard at times. Many of us feel isolated. The advice booth turned this on its head. It gave this person an outlet to air her thoughts and desires. It created an instant connection, which is crucial in our technology-fueled world—a world where communication options are all-consuming, yet how many of us truly communicate?

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The Amazing Adventures of the Traveling Advice Booth

Last summer I found myself at the legendary Burning Man festival, the eclectic arts experience extraordinaire in...

Last summer I found myself at the legendary Burning Man festival, the eclectic arts experience extraordinaire in the heart of the Nevada desert. As I was walking around, I came across an interesting site: a large wooden sign with the word "ADVICE" blazoned across it, accompanied by two rickety, wooden chairs. The simplicity of this scene definitely captured my imagination. I decided to sit in one of the chairs and wait.

What happened next was liberating and quite unexpected. During the next hour or so, I found myself in the hot seat, as people kept stopping by to ask for advice. I made it clear I wasn’t qualified in the advice giving business; this didn’t dampen their enthusiasm. I felt privileged listening and realized that just by giving them time to air their thoughts I was being of service. It was not the advice I was imparting, but the moments of connection between two people, which inspired such a warm reaction from both parties.

When I left Burning Man I began to wonder if this desert experiment would work in the real world. How would people react if I set up my own advice booth in one of the most populous and cosmopolitan cities in America, Los Angeles? Would they be fascinated the same way I and the people who asked for my advice were at Burning Man? Or would I be the subject of scorn and derision in a city more used to the shenanigans of young Hollywood starlets? I decided to give it a go and set up shop in five diverse areas of Los Angeles: Beverly Hills, Downtown's Union Station, Hollywood Boulevard, Venice Beach, and the Miracle Mile.

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