Imagine the following scenario:
There are two students. Student A is a 4.0 student, studies endlessly, and is at the top of their class. Student B is lucky to have a 3 preceding their GPA, but actively has conversations and connects with leading individuals in various industries, trying to help these people in whatever way he can.
Student A will likely go on eventually graduate school, and graduate with all sorts of degrees. He will then start looking for jobs, using his education to get his foot in the door.
However, Student B has already built relationships with the people that he is considering a career with, giving him an advantage over Student A.
The difference between Student A and Student B is the difference between perfecting your craft and surrounding people who are doing your craft.
How To Network Effectively
I’ve heard countless excuses when it comes to networking with people. Anything from “It feels sleazy and manipulative” or “That’s just not my thing” or “I’m not good at talking to people”.
What most people don’t understand is that effective networking boils down to one simple thing: Providing value.
At the beginning of August, I met a new friend and spent a couple hours into the night listening to him talk about his startup video company, ideas, and outlook into the future. I gave him pointers on how to network and meet people by cold contacting them through facebook, twitter, or email. A couple months later, he told me about how he had started working for a significant blogger and was getting plugged into various events in his area.
Providing value is all about helping the other person achieve their goals. It’s a cycle. The more resources and connections that you have, the more value you can provide to the people that you meet, and the better you will be able to network.
When I meet a new person, I approach it from a mindset where I want to help them. I listen to what they are working on, the areas they need help in, what their goals are and how they feel about their work. I listen not only to the words that they are saying, but what they mean.
Then, if I am able to help them, I will direct them to books, articles, or people. And if I don’t know enough to address what they need help with, I make a mental note to do some research and networking in that area.
Try it Out
If there’s someone that you’ve been following online for a while, whether it be their blog or twitter or youtube, send them a quick message (I read every email)! Let them know what their work means to you, and ask them any questions you may have, and try to provide value in whatever way you can!
Then share about it in the comments.
Culture is a loose fitting word.
Culture can refer to a variety of things, but it boils down to a perspectives, beliefs, and ultimately ideas. When an idea is shared with large amounts of people, and it becomes a common thought, a culture is formed. When a new idea comes against an existing one, and is accepted among large amounts of people, a culture shifts.
Therefore, while the word culture can include a huge variety of interactions, customs, and belief systems, culture is ultimately constructed by ideas.
History is full of examples of this. The industrial revolution was a shift in culture caused by the idea that work could be more efficient if distributed. The women’s rights movement was caused by the idea that women were just as capable as men.
Sometimes the ideas that change culture aren’t even intentional. There are a multitude of factors that can cause cultures to develop, change, or disappear.
Memetics, a concept similar to the study of genetics, believes that ideas (called memes) are similar to genes. Genetics studies how individual genes are reproduced and passed on to effect the genetics of a population. One person’s gene could have an effect that ripples for centuries in their family.
Memes follow a similar trajectory. Culture is affected by the ideas of the individuals that are shared and reproduced within human relationships.
The implications of this are enormous. The ideas that you have and the ideas that you share have the potential to shape cultures and influence people for generations to come.
In other words, you are encouraged to think outside the box.
The worst thing to do when starting a company or nonprofit is to make assumptions about your product or your audience. Assumptions, when they are not verified to be factual, will later come back to bite you in the butt.
In middle school, I modified nerf guns. I spent whole afternoons unscrewing these little plastic toys and making changes to the interior. After a while, I decided to make a business out of it and modify nerf guns for all of my friends, charging them only one dollar for each modification. I was out of business after two modifications.
I was out of business because I had failed to ask the essential questions before I started selling my service. I had no idea who I was selling to, what the demand would be for my service, or even how much time I had to do these modifications.
So whether you are a business owner, an entrepreneur, or just a student wanting to start something new in one of your circles, here are the valuable questions to consider.
- Who is your audience? Be specific as you possibly can. Simply saying that your audience is adults is not enough. Where are they from? What do they do? How much money do they earn? Where do they tend to gather? What nationality are they? What do they want? etc.
- What are you offering? This should be something deeper than what your product is, it should be the impact that you are trying to have on your customer. Are you trying to save them time, give them status, or allow them to have fun?
- How are you going to get there? What is your channel going to be for reaching your audience? What things are you going to leverage?
- What kind of relationship are you having with your customers? This question determines what the goal is for your reputation within the public eye. How do you want your customers to see you or your brand?
- What are customers willing to pay for? After knowing your audience, the next step is to know what they would pay money for. Hopefully based on questions one and two you have an idea for this question.
- What resources do you need to run your company? How much time, money, space, and labor do you need to run this company? Where are you going to get these resources?
- What are you going to do? How are you going to structure and run your company to be the most effective at achieving your goal?
- Who are you partnering with? What other companies, individuals, or groups would be interested in helping you build your business?
- What are you going to pay for? What is it going to cost? How much marketing, testing, etc are you going to pay for?
Strong companies always have clear answers to each of these questions. However, keep in mind that the answers to these questions may change over time as you get into your business. Being flexible and learning to identify changes to these questions will be one of your greatest assets.
The role, price, and value of a university degree has been constantly changing.
The role, price and value of college and a degree are three aspects of post-secondary education should be considered objectively in order to keep an up to date, relevant perspective of education.
The Role of a Degree
The role of college is vastly different than it was fifty years ago. Fifty years ago, people attended college as a source for information because that was the only place that you could get it. The information given at school would prepare you for a career in the field of your choosing. College trained you to be a worker.
College degrees used to be seen as an elite sign of mastery and preparedness to work the job that you were trained for. In certain cases such as law or medicine, this is still the case. However, for all other cases, this has changed. The barrier of entry for many careers are now beginning to drop the requirement of a college degree.
College used to be the only way for people to get into or rise above the middle class, because it was seen as the way to secure a better future. There has even been claims that students who graduate from college make one million dollars more in their lifetime than people who don’t have a college degree.
However, in today’s world, the role of college is not as clear. Some people claim that college is a rite of passage for teenagers; a transition between childhood and adulthood. I’ve heard arguments that college is about learning to manage your own time, learning how to interact with people, and developing yourself personally.
One thing is for sure though, college today plays a very different role than it did fifty years ago, challenging a lot of the traditional notions of education.
The Price of a Degree
The next reason, price, doesn’t have too much debate around it. The cost of getting a degree has skyrocketed beyond belief. In fact, Chase is no longer making new student loans because the student loan market is no longer sustainable.
This is sad, because the price of a degree continues to rise. It isn’t uncommon for parents to begin saving up for their child’s college education the moment their child is born, or teenagers signing themselves into decades of debt to pursue a degree.
The Value of a Degree
In today’s world, a degree may help you get your foot in the door, but it doesn’t do much more than that. Millions of students are graduating with degrees, saturating society with an overabundance of students who have internship experience, degrees, and other things that make it difficult to properly assess a job applicant.
The general trend is that when more people have access to a certain product or service, the competitive edge of the product or service diminishes. The same is true for college degrees. The more people that have degrees, the more difficult it becomes to distinguish talent.
The fact that someone has a degree today doesn’t mean terribly much. Having a degree simply tells me that an individual spent a few years of their life doing homework and taking tests from an institution, and they did well enough on their exams to receive a piece of paper. A degree tells me nothing about a person’s work ethic, their dreams, their ability to communicate and work in a team, or even how much they actually know.
Ultimately, college isn’t for everyone, and I would argue that based on the price, value, and role, that it isn’t meant for most people.
One thing that business principles revolve around is the basic idea of providing value. All businesses revolve around the exchange of value.
Cost then, is merely the determination of value. If I price something at fifty dollars, that means that I am determining that the value of my product is worth the value of fifty dollars. In fact, by selling something for fifty dollars, that means that the value of fifty dollars is more valuable to me than the value of my product to me.
However, as Seth Godin comments, the internet age is now throwing a curveball into the game.
“In a competitive, undifferentiated market, the price will generally be lowered by competitors until it is just above marginal cost. Think about that… If it costs a dollar to make something, and your competitor is selling for $1.10, then in an efficient market, you have every incentive to sell your item for a penny less than that. It’s better than not selling it.
There are many implications of this, the first being the explanation of why so much stuff online is free. Free is a magical concept, the place where trial and virality live. If the marginal cost of a new user is virtually zero (and in an ad supported business, a new user is actually profitable, not a cost) then it’s no surprise that it’s hard to charge for your app when there are other apps that do precisely what yours does.
Big, established companies have traditionally had a difficult time understanding this concept. The market for ebooks, for example, ended up in Federal court because otherwise smart people in book publishing couldn’t get their arms around the idea that their marginal cost of an ebook delivered by Amazon was precisely zero. No paper, no shipping, no ink.” – Seth Godin
The reason that Facebook is able to offer a social network for free is because there is nearly no marginal cost for adding another user, and by adding another user, they have a larger collection of users that they can leverage for advertisements, publicity, etc.
As a new experiment on diplateevo, I have decided to give away one free book every month through a random drawing. It is called polyglot, and you can check it out here. I am doing this for a number of reasons.
- I want to provide a resource for people to learn more. By providing a free book, hopefully someone will be able to benefit from the wisdom written in the book. This will hopefully also be a way for my readers to expand their knowledge of what people are currently publishing.
- I want to experiment with the idea of giving away free books and see how people respond. I am interested to see what kind of community I can build by giving away free books, and have a better feel for what people need.
- I want to see how knowledge gets passed around. As part of the polyglot program, books that have been given out for free are encouraged to be continually given away and passed around for free. I am interested to see where my books will end up.
So go ahead and let all your friends and family know, and I will be picking the first winner next Wednesday!
Humans are social creatures, hardwired for relationship. It’s hard to imagine a day completely empty of social interaction. Even if you were to spend an entire day in solitude, you are still spending the day relating to and conversing with yourself.
Being the first three weeks of school at UCSD, many of the freshmen are exploring different campus organizations, trying to find communities where they belong. While talking to them about their new experiences and relationships, I hear phrases such as “they’re really friendly” or “I feel welcome”.
When it comes to college groups, first impressions and reputation spread by word of mouth make a huge difference in the first couple of weeks. Newcomers have only a couple of interactions to judge an organization with, and it often boils down to how they are treated and how they feel.
However, people don’t crave friendly interactions; they crave friendships. They interact with friendly people in hopes that they can build a friendship.
It’s really sad how it seems that college students are generally worse at making friends than kindergarteners are. It’s because kindergarteners aren’t trying to be friendly, they’re just trying to be a friend, where as college students worry about things like image, impression, social norms, etc.
Being friendly and being a friend are two seemingly related virtues, but the two do not always come in the same package. The person who is as friendly as Barney the dinosaur isn’t someone who I would necessarily want to be friends with.
Friendliness is usually associated with a warm smile, perfect conversation, genuine attitude, etc. But a true friend is someone who will say it as it is, not hide things from you, and be completely honest and real.
The irony is that friendships aren’t based upon being friendly, they are based on a connection that is much deeper. In all my experience, I’ve been able to boil down friendships to two main components: interacting with each other, and having a genuine desire to share multiple aspects of life with each other.
Friendships are some of the most powerful things you could ever invest your time in, so don’t reduce it down to merely “being friendly”.
I’ve always had dreams to change the world.
I’ve always wanted to impact people in a positive way, leaving a legacy greater than myself.
In 2009, I started diplateevo with the intent of writing content in order to help people. I started writing about education, technology, leadership, etc.
At first, I expected people to pick up my content. I wanted people to read what I had to share, and be impacted by the things I was learning the same way that I had. I thought I had something to share, and I wanted people to partake in it.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before I realized that I couldn’t be writing to get known. As counter intuitive as it seems, after I started writing for myself, writing about things to satisfy myself, that I finally began seeing growth.
My most popular post to date, my post on ambiverts, has gotten over 53,000 views. I wasn’t writing it to attract a reader base, I wrote it because I was putting a new idea into words.
I used to write for other people, now I write for myself.
Writing for yourself gives you the freedom to truly express the things that are on your mind, allowing yourself to be true to yourself. My measure of growth is no longer in the number of people that read my posts, but how I feel like I am developing personally as a blogger.
And even if it doesn’t make me famous, I know that writing about what is true to myself is always the best way to live. Even composers such as Beethoven weren’t recognized for their work until long after they had been deceased.
The point is to keep doing great work, especially if you aren’t recognized by people for it.
Growth should never be determined by how many new readers you are getting, but by how your work is changing to reflect who you really are.
Dunbar’s number is proposed to be the limit to the number of stable and active social relationships that a human being can maintain. The number, roughly estimated to be about 150, has a couple deep implications.
For one, it reveals that a person’s influence can not be increased simply by increasing the quantity of relationships. This poses a fundamental challenge to traditional leadership, where the goal is for one group of individuals to unite and organize a large group of people. I’ve noticed this phenomenon personally, as many of the groups that try to maintain solid leadership and growth have difficulty remaining personal somewhere north of the 100 people mark.
In the past, centralized leadership worked under smaller groups of people, because the ease of connection and communication was nowhere near as quick or easy as it is today. Centralized leadership generally makes people feel safer, because they have someone on top that they can choose to trust to lead and guide them. However, as the world becomes more connected, it becomes more and more difficult for a single leader to keep up with what is going on with each person individually.
Instead of having a centralized leadership, we can use a decentralized system to take advantage of Dunbar’s number. Instead of having one person be the head for hundreds or thousands of people, decentralization levels the playing field and removes the “head”.
Decentralized systems gather around a principle or ideal rather than people. Instead of having people in leadership, they have core values. Thus, within a decentralized system, individuals are free to build and maintain connections among each other, creating a more connected and integrated community that can easily adapt and grow.
Decentralized systems embrace community, while a centralized system pushes conformity. And just like how we are realizing that we need to move from industrialization to personalization, we must also choose to move from centralized systems to decentralized systems.
Read The Starfish and the Spider if you want a better picture of what I’m talking about.
While reading Developing the Leaders Around You by John C. Maxwell, his section about the different levels of leadership really stood out to me.
Within leadership, there are generally three distinct levels of leading. The three levels indicate different levels of commitment, involvement, and relationship.
Nurturing: The focus in a nurturing relationship is based on need. The leader is committed to fulfilling the individual’s needs. This type of relationship is generally based on spontaneous decision to help a person with a specific task.
Equipping: The focus in an equipping relationship is based on task. The leader is committed to teaching the individual how to perform a certain task. This type of relationship is a short term commitment to teach a person a skill in order to perform tasks.
Developing: The focus in a developing relationship is based on the person. The leader is committed to the person unconditionally. This type of relationship is a long term commitment to mentor a person in all aspects of life so that their mentee can mentor someone else.
Realistically, a leader should nurture everyone, equip and handful, and develop a few. A leader that doesn’t equip or develop anyone is a leader that creates dependency on himself / herself, making it difficult for an organization to continue without him / her. A leader that tries to develop too many people is often bent over backwards trying to invest a lot into everyone, ultimately not being able to act according to what they say.
If leadership is truly about serving and doing what is best for the people you are leading, leaders must create a model that is practical, scalable, and meaningful.
The industrial economy traded object for object. If you had a car and I had a boat, trading would mean that you had a boat and I had a car.
But in the connection economy, where ideas are shared, if you had an idea and I had an idea, trading would mean that we both now have two ideas.
Being unwilling to share an idea is a fear rooted in mistrust. The fear is that if I share my idea, the person that I’m sharing it to will steal it from me. In other words, I don’t trust the person that I’m sharing my idea with.
But the reality of a connection economy is that when we share ideas, connect the dots, and everyone works in his or her unique niche with his or her unique talents, we are able to create something that no one person could have accomplished on their own.
Products and services are assembled in various combinations in order to create new products and services. But ideas are synergized by minds all over the world in order to not only bring products together, but to bring people together.
When products and services are assembled together in new ways, industries are shifted. But when ideas are assembled and worked on, lives are changed.
It’s inadequate to do something for a living if you don’t have the life to do it.