I saw a Tweet a couple of weeks ago that I can’t stop thinking about.
Have you ever read something or heard something that just sticks with you?
Words you don’t know if you agree with or disagree with, but you carry them around like a kaleidoscope—holding them up to the light at different angles to take in all the ways the words can be understood and seen.
The Tweet that stuck with me was from Adam Draper, host of the Boost VC podcast, and he said:
While there is a lot to unpack in there (and so little time because it’s Monday and this is a newsletter), the idea that we potentially undervalue our networks is worth our focused attention.
This week, we are going to chip away at this idea a little further and see what implications Draper’s thought has for us as we strive to be superconnectors in every part of our lives.
WHAT SCIENCE SAYS ABOUT OUR NETWORKS
So is Adam right? Do we undervalue our networks?
To answer that question, I think we need to do a little introspection.
How do we view the peripheral people in our lives? Do we value our connection with our mailman? Or the barista? Or the custodian at our office?
Do we make intentional contact with the other parents in our kids’ classroom? Or with the TSA agent we see every Monday morning on our weekly business trip? Or with the old lady who sits 3 rows in front of us at church every Sunday?
As a part of our Contact Mapping community, I know you value relationships and personal connection, but do you undervalue the potential greatness that a large network can provide?
It turns out people who have a large network—even one with weak ties—actually are happier.
In a 2014 study, researchers found that people with a large number of acquaintances—a friend at the gym, local barista, favorite UPS delivery man, etc.—feel a strong connection to their community and are happier.
So as you think about your network, do you include and invest in peripheral acquaintances in your group?
Gillian Sandstrom, a psychology lecturer at the University of Essex, calls this a “network of low-stakes connection.” And she argues that these relationships actually meet our need for belonging in more significant ways than people realize.
“A lot of us think it’s not worth our time to have those kinds of interactions, that they can’t possibly provide any meaning,” Dr. Sandstrom said. “We’re focused on whatever is next and we don’t stop and take that second to enjoy the moment.”
WHAT DO WE OVERVALUE?
While the idea of undervaluing networks was intriguing enough for me to rethink my daily interactions with every human I encounter, I was also struck by the idea of overvaluing isolated achievements.
“How true,” I thought, as I considered the number of special days and holidays that cause us to celebrate in excess—graduation, award ceremonies, weddings, promotions, buying a house, birthdays, etc.
Each pinnacle moment was just that...a MOMENT.
Sure, today you're a first-time homeowner, but a month from now you’re just the guy forking out $5K for a new water heater.
Yesterday, you were the team lead, but next week you start a new job and are just the girl delivering coffee and shuffling documents between your coworkers.
And sure, those days were great celebrations, but when it comes to investing your time, energy and celebratory enthusiasm into something of value, might we shift our focus from the temporal moment and continue to make small investments into things that compound:
Befriending a stranger at your kids’ soccer game who you discover can connect you with the right realtor to sell your house.
Talking more than just health concerns with your doctor, only to find out you have the perfect job opportunity for her little sister.
Consistently engaging in conversations with your mailman only to build a lasting friendship over time.
In his book, The Algebra of Happiness, Scott Galloway—like Draper—asserts that this investment in relationships has exponential benefits.
He says, “Take a ton of pictures, text your friends stupid things, check in with old friends as often as possible, express admiration to co-workers, and every day, tell as many people as you can that you love them. A couple of minutes every day — the payoff is small at first, and then it’s immense.”
Social scientists call this the 1% rule. Essentially, if you commit to being just 1% better every day for a year at building these low-stakes relationships, you’ll experience 37 times the benefit in return.
We get to choose how we spend our time and energy. And if you’re like most of us, you want the greatest return on your investment.
To become a superconnector that means investing into all relationships in your life—including the peripheral and low-stakes ones. Because just like a good mutual fund, they can compound for a great return.