The Idea Dude


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Natural born connectors

I was brought up in a culture that defined my road to success before I was even born. It simply said, go to a good school, get good grades, go to university, get a degree, find a job, work your way up to the top and then retire and enjoy the fruits of your labour. The thinking behind that was brainpower was the secret success juice. As long as you were smarter than anyone else, you would be rich.

Forty+ years later. My perspective has changed. As parents, we always stress the importance of the academic, often at the expense of other skill sets. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. How true that rings now.

Looking around me at successful people over the years, many were Nobel Prize winners, not even close. Yet they were immeasurably successful. One of the keys was they knew they weren't the sharpest knife in the kitchen. But they knew who was and they knew where their strength lay. In connecting people and selling ideas.

In retrospect, it makes sense that these people, I call them natural born connectors, would ultimately be more successful. If you believe in the concept of evolution, these folks succeed because their promiscuity allows them to cast a wide net and sooner or later, they will land a whale or at least be on the right boat when the whale is caught.

For the academic, his choices are limited by his own abilities and mental prejudices. He will fish in the same stream year after year in the hope of the whale because he feels he designed the best fishing rod and has the best fish detector.

Thanks to the Internet, knowledge today is a commodity. Your maven is Google. The value is not in the neuron but the connections between them. Funnily enough, nature got that right, each neuron in our brains is pretty simple and not exactly interesting. But wire a billion of them together and we have something pretty awesome!

Today, I spend as much time figuring out how to help my children be better connectors as opposed to be better thinkers. Both are equally important!


Blogger haydn said...

Vern I think you've made an important point - having said that I think this is one of those epochal things - my childhood was more infuenced by people with ideas.

10:53 AM  
Blogger The Idea Dude said...

Hi Haydn, I'm with you on that. I grew up in a time when the only way to get knowledge and ideas were through books and radio. Often the ideas are old. Read the latest bestseller and you realize it was written 2 years ago even though it was published this year. The speed of change and public sentiment changes too rapidly for that to be relevant.

Being connected to people in real-time (and through blogs) allow us to share ideas in the context of "now", i.e. in real-time.

That is what has changed.

11:06 AM  
Blogger haydn said...

well my other observation is that few of te epeople I know who get on are connectors in the liberal sense of being generous with connections - they are not profligate with their connections; they guard them and use them judiciously; they are likely to refuse connections as they are to make them; and they are happy for conecntions to be short lived. As we used to say, they travel light.

1:55 PM  
Blogger The Idea Dude said...

You make a good point. Do you think that applies to online world where you are likely to give out connections more liberally because you are also receiving more? I'm thinking of LinkedIn and Facebook where it seems your connections are not like your personal ones. They say less than 25% of anyone's Facebook connections can be considered 'friends'.

12:31 PM  
Blogger haydn said...

The question is really worth pursuing. Xing - the European LinkedIn - have a ticker that shows how many people are online at any one time. Usually it is in the 10 - 11,000 range. That's from a membership of 5 million though which indicates possibly a lack of use.

I know networks have a real problem activating users - getting sign-ups is comparably easy. Second life has over ten million members but around a half million are "active".

I also find people in networks more often than not fall into the promiscuous category - hell we are all looking to get noticed.

So my feeling with them has been they are part of our newly vagrant nature - a generation of mass eduction looking for places to get noticed, to shine, to grow and succeed.

1:18 PM  

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