In my life, there has always been this confusing paradox in my personality that I haven't quite figured out. I'm shy. "He's bashful," my mom used to say when I'd slink behind her leg at four years old, not wanting to shake a stranger's hand like a big boy.

Somehow in adulthood, I ended up on the air on the radio. A DJ, air-personality, radio entertainer, disc-jockey, whatever the term du jour was for that decade for on-air types. This brought me into advertising where I routinely met and mixed with new and various kinds of people from all aspects of life.

How can you be shy and be on the radio? That's the usual response I'd get whenever I'd tell someone I'd rather not go to this or that social function because I'm shy. I can't easily answer that. It's hard to explain. Suffice it to say, I've known a lot of people in this business who are the same way, starting with Don Imus. This odd condition has also caused me to be called aloof, stuck-up, a sufferer of Asperger's Syndrome, and worse.

One-on-one with others in the advertising business, with an introduction or legitimate business reason to be there, presented no problems for me to state my case and conduct business with a stranger and be personable and funny.

But there's one social occasion that literally sends chills up and down my spine, actual dread and fear set in, cold sweat could be felt on my forehead as I entered a room full of strangers for a business mixer. These are the affairs staged by chambers of commerce, individual businesses, and other entities in the business world. They are designed specifically so that people may meet new people, ostensibly for the purposes of doing business.

But a room full of strangers always sent shivers down my spine.

So, as a public service to my fellow shy and bashful business people faced with meeting new potential clients, or just for any person who is uncomfortable in strange crowds, here are ten conversation starters you can confidently use as convo fodder. You can easily write five on each palm before your next event.

There are a few of these that I've actually tossed out among two or three people, and they did all the talking, which I also prefer because I learn more when others are speaking.

Conversation Starters with Strangers

1. If you could have any superpower, which would you pick?

2. What's the best thing you ever bought at a garage sale, flea market, or estate sale?

3. When you were young, what did you want to be as a grown-up?

4. How did you choose your major in college?

5. What's the most unbelievable but true thing that's ever happened to you?

6. What's the best advice anyone has ever given to you? Did you take it?

7. What's the most exotic food you've ever tried?

8. What's your guilty pleasure tv show, musical artist, or movie?

9. What was the first thought on your mind when you woke up today?

10. What was your first-ever job? Did you like it? What did it teach you?

As a final note, you don't have to be attending a mixer to use these. You may get stuck in an elevator or in a van on a church trip with people you're not that familiar with.

Have fun! You might even make a new friend.