A Calgary man has launched a social experiment to get more people talking face-to-face.

"People are getting more and more connected digitally, and I believe we need to reconnect with our humanity," Tony Esteves told the Calgary Eyeopener.

Esteves is on day 195 of the project, called Talk 2 More People (T2MP), which challenges Calgarians to meet a new person everyday for 30 days.

"It has been a wonderful roller coaster. I've been very fortunate to meet a whole bunch of really incredible and brilliant people, and learned a whole bunch along the way."

Making the 1st move

The easiest way to strike up a conversation is with a genuine compliment, Esteves says. 

"It's a very easy way to disarm people and get a conversation started."

The other key is to be yourself. 

"It's not as difficult as we think it is ... you really, really can discover amazing things if you just practice it a little bit," he says.

Challenge card

Tony Esteves has developed a 30-Day Challenge checklist to spur people into conversations. (Ayesha Clough/CBC)

Esteves, who runs workshops on creativity and communication, calls T2MP a "big study of people" that helps him as a presenter and performer. 

But what truly inspired him was his father, a Portuguese immigrant who spoke with everyone in the neighbourhood.

When his father died of cancer two years ago, even the mail woman stopped by to tell his mother how much she missed the friendly local. 

Tony Esteves

Tony Esteves is in the seventh month of his daily challenge to meet people. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

'Really rich conversation'

Since his father's passing, Esteves has struggled with anxiety.

He's convinced that talking to people has helped him come off his medication in May. 

Esteves has only missed one day of the challenge — a day when he could barely leave the house, let alone strike up a conversation with a stranger.

On days when he's feeling anti-social, he puts off the conversation to later in the day, or simply forces himself to do it.

"I strongly believe that getting out of your comfort zone is a great place to learn."

"When I do that ... there's been a really rich conversation," he says.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener