Breaking new ground

May 19, 2010 |  by  |  Uncategorized

Breaking new ground

The Conversare enterprise to date has been conducted in one venue. This is the lovely upstairs room in Café Zambra in Wanchai, Hong Kong. Up until now we  have taken responsibility of organising and promoting  monthly events there. 

The opportunity is now presenting in which the management of a restaurant is doing the promotion and a facilitator is being contracted to host the event.

This business model is likely to be mutually beneficial.  For it enables a venue such as a restaurant, pub, hotel and others to have a USP (unique selling point) which could mean:

.  increased custom.
.  a reputation for offering novel and enjoyable experience.
.  wider recognition of an ambience of being welcoming and friendly.
.  a different way of connecting to ‘regulars’ and others.

Feedback from participants in Café Zambra events provides evidence for this.

“I am an urbanite, I love to meet people, am a workaholic, an independent professional living far-far away from my family and country of birth. I crave the closeness of community living and sharing that was so part of my formative growing years, when you didn’t need invitations to visit people and you could ring your neighbors’ doorbell to borrow sugar, tea or pickle for your guests. I believe deep down we all crave effortless connections but somehow our lifestyles don’t allow us that intimacy any longer. Hesitation sets in. But at Conversare, walls crumble, and bonds are created. I could ring any of the participants’ door bell to borrow sugar or tea.”
Mani Goel


Having lived in Hong Kong for a long time now, I felt that many people rub shoulders with each other and do not get a chance to get to know each other. Having an event like Conversare is very precious indeed – getting people to talk and connect with each other at a deeper and more genuine level, and to have fun.  Going forward, I would love to continue to participate.

“… I enjoyed last night’s Conversare event tremendously.  I love to be amongst people who like to engage in deep conversations and just be … I think dancing and singing will bring variety to Conversare as we connect with other aspects of our friends. ”
Susie Li

“Thank you for organizing the event tonight, I really enjoy that. Though I’ve been a trainer and public speaker for over 10 years, I find it difficult to talk to new-met friend, not to mention, there are a table of them, and they’re from different countries. Before tonight, it felt like no matter what I said, is superficial and hesitating, for the fear of offending people with different cultural background. 

From the mini workshop, I’ve learned to talk to strangers, in a honest but deeper way. The art of asking question makes a huge difference when trying to make a conversation. Thank you, I’m sure I’ll join again.”
Esther Lee

Watch this space for what happens at Hemingways by the Bay restaurant in Discovery Bay, Hong Kong on Thursday 20 May 2010.

Alan Stewart

“Coming to Conversare takes me back to a time when as a boy I experienced the same natural state of communication when friends and strangers came together in the pubs of Ireland. It was a magical time.”
Gerald Winnington-Ingram


  1. What a fantastic idea!

  2. I enjoyed the Conversare held on Thursday at Hemingways restaurant in Discovery Bay because I felt it was a lively community event in which people willingly joined in the fun and conversation. People who until that evening had been only faces seen around the area interacted right from the start of the time we spent together, meeting firstly in a circle. Then I found having dinner with a person who I had not met previously was most enlightening. The time flew by amazingly. I felt that I knew my chosen person to have the meal with well by the end of it and at no time ran out of either interest or questions.

    As we ate and talked, several people looked curiously in through the windows and, in response to our waving, came to join us. It was an unusual experience to have others wandering by and peeking in while we sat inside quite absorbed in our conversation.
    Alan was a warm host who helped everyone to feel welcome and comfortable. He outlined the guiding principles of the gathering confidently and clearly
    which gave the evening a flowing structure.

    We may have been strangers at first but we were friends when we left. I am looking forward to future such happenings at Hemingways. It was a relaxed evening where I met new people who live locally and came to know them in some depth.

    Carmen Liddane

  3. Thursday night was the first time I had been in the Plaza since March 17. I have been housebound. Because I had promised that I would attend I struggled with a walker. I reluctanty left my flat. I was seated in a circle and spoke with a number of people. The group was convivial, open to conversation and interesting. The possibilities are endless to expand and grow this concept. It is very difficult for many to meet new people. Conversare answers that need. I would like to see more men involved, to provide balance. There has to be a way to reach this group. Conversare has to be a viable alternative to the bar scene. A place to meet, discuss interesting topics and just have fun is something that is needed in Hong Kong. Thank you Alan for arranging this.

  4. Marie Marchand

    Thursday night was very enjoyable. I had no expectation and wanted to meet new people. I had dinner with a lovely woman who was very interesting and with whom I had a non stop conversation. It was easy and non stressful, exactly what I needed after a hard week at work. A nice experience, one that I would like to renew. Thank you Alan.

  5. This was another wonderful opportunity to listen to the fascinating stories of ‘ordinary expats’. This made me wonder once again whether there are any ‘ordinary expats’, in fact whether there are any ‘ordinary people’. I think that the answer is a resounding ‘No; we are all wonderfully unique. I just wish that more people were prepared to tell their ‘unique story’as some did in the Hemingway conversare last Thursday. Thank you Alan for bringing your ideas to DB.

  6. Alan,

    I really wish I could have been there. Fortunately, I had the fortune in participating in the first (or one of the first?) such events at the Red Vic in San Francisco.

    There is such a hunger for Conversare in this world. And I’m really excited to have a (virtual) front row seed, witness from afar to its evolution.

    Alan, thanks for the post. And I look forward to further inspiration.


  7. Hi Alan,

    What a good idea and if last Thursday is an example of the success you will have with Conversare. I enjoyed the evening

    Regards Adrienne

  8. I have to say that I LOVE the Conversare blog! What a way to connect with people. Real people! Just a week ago I went out with my bestfriends and we talked about how technology has taken over our lives, which can be a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is, it makes us easier to connect and ‘talk’ with friends wherever whenever, thanks to email, Skype, Yahoo Messenger, Facebook, etc. But at the same time, it’s like a robotic way of connecting with people. Everything’s virtual. No eye contact, no smile exchanges (well, if you consider this :) as a smile… hehe)… no human touch. And when we finally meet, we talk to each other while being busy with our cellphones, texting other friends. So how do you define interaction in this era? By poking each other on FB? By texting? By sending email?

    I think Conversare is a great thing! And I really love the defintion of it: to dance together. What a lovely definition :) And it must be fun to be the facilitator (you! :D). I’ve been saying this line since I was in junior high and I’m going to say it now… when I grow up, I want to be a facilitator (and WHEN exactly will I grow up? Hahahaha).
    Dania, student, Jakarta

  9. Very pleasant evening, lovely chatting to a group of interesting interested people. Looking forward to the next one.

  10. From Alan, ‘facilitator of conversations that matter and participatory fun’

    It seems to me from the comments here that the fledgling Conversare adventure is beginning to fulfill the original intention for it. Which is to have space set aside in public places in which anyone is welcome to join in to have lively and enjoyable connecting, facilitated with a light touch by a host.

    Participants at the first such event at Hemingways restaurant in Discovery Bay on Lantau Island in Hong Kong reported, “The group was convivial, open to conversation and interesting.” “Very pleasant evening, lovely chatting to a group of interesting interested people.” Plus how astonished they were at the richness of learning about people who at the beginning were total strangers.

    While as Yvonne commented: “It is very difficult for many to meet new people.” Is this your experience?

    Particularly if you are a newcomer to any bustling urban place, and/or if you work long hours or if you travel a lot. almost impossible. Unless you attend religious meetings or special interest meetings. Or if you have children through which you can meet other parents.

    A recent visitor to here who had been an exchange student from Canada recently and who now lives in a large city in the US made this poignant observation: “I would hate the way I am living now to become the way of the future. For while I have a well paid job and a comfortable apartment I have zero social life and there is nowhere in my area that I have found which offers any sense of community.”

    Fascinating to me were the words ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’ from Dania, (no offence!) a university student in Jakarta who also commented somewhat sadly: “Are we really connecting with people when, even while we are physically present with friends, much of the time is taken up with texting others?”

    Yvonne goes on to suggest that the possibilities are endless to expand and grow this Conversare concept. Would you wish to see this happen and, if so, what do you see as next steps?

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