The timing of my conversation with today’s guest could hardly be more relevant given the lock down scenario we now all find ourselves in due to the shocking effects of Corona Virus.
Indeed, the whole premise of Your London Legacy podcast, is for me to physically go out and about into our beautiful capital city, meet up with its most wonderful, fascinating and colourful characters, in their space, whether at home, work or on location and bring them straight to your device. It was never my intention to interview guests merely over the wires, on Skype or Zoom or whatever other online app exists and unless Covid 19 locks me down for weeks to come, I will do all I can to continue this way.
This week’s guest is genuinely affable and ebullient Howard Lewis—Founder and host of Offline. What exactly is Offline? Well it’s a gathering of around 35, engaging, interesting people that meet every month in person over dinner in the charming intimate setting of the famous Saville Club in the heart of Mayfair London. Attendees straddle every conceivable area of life, from finance, to fashion, politics to fine arts. I’ll let Howard explain how it works.
Plus, Howard is also Director of The Schorr Collection, a privately owned art collection principally focused on Old Masters. Howard writes on art, travel and football and is a newspaper junkie too. I for one can’t wait till the lock down is lifted and I can get along to my first Offline dinner. This is Your London Legacy.
“You’re talking about serendipity and randomness—which are two of the key components of Offline. The fact is in the vast majority of cases—wherever you go, people find there’s far more that connects them than separates them.”
Howard has made it a point to bring people together, away from their phones and everything they entail, to sit down for dinner and conversation. This isn’t a networking event, coming in with expectations for an outcome are highly discouraged. It’s about being present and curious, not how snazzy you can look or what knowledge you can use to impress people. The curation of the event is meant to capitalize on many intersecting lives, randomness, and serendipity so that everyone there can feed off each other and have a genuine, sometimes vulnerable experience of opening up and being heard.
“The problem today is that there is an unrelenting pace to life. I don’t think people allow themselves enough time to simply absorb, reflect, and possibly even change their minds.”
Howard likens offline to walking on an unfamiliar sidewalk on your way to work—it’s an event to make you see things differently and gain a different perspective, often about things you know very well. Social media has an immediacy to it, where once you click and start scrolling that time is lost. It can foster immediate responses where there is no time to think about what to say. Howard likes to push for an honesty in offline, where you’re encouraged to ask to understand things better, and not try to pretend to just tag along with conversation.
“One thing I’ve learned about offline—is that once you give people permission to be vulnerable, suddenly they can’t quite stop. It’s just getting past the first base with most people that’s the problem.”
Offline breaks down the hidden set of metrics that people find themselves using to compare themselves to others be it in real life or online. Fostering a natural curiosity about the people right around you and learning are cornerstones of Howard’s meetups, and he plans on connecting people far into the future through his events. If you’d like to contact Howard you can reach him at HSL15@icloud.com or via phone at 07976933549.