Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Maven

Linchpin or Connector: Who are they, and what they do?

I didn’t read “Linchpin” by  Seth Godin: My nephew listened to the audio, read in  Godin’s voice, and he told me the book is short and the reading does not last more than three hours, at best.  I am not the type to sit listening for three hours, not even in movies. I love reading hard copies.

Fortunately, someone posted a review of the book that she completed reading this January and her post was displayed on Freshly Pressed. I decided to repost it for those who don’t trouble themselves with Freshly Pressed selected posts, simply because management requires some kind of pictures attached to the post. (Sentences in parenthesis are mine).

“One of the key take-away for me from the book was: Inside an organization, take “initiatives” without hoping for rewards. That translates to: If you see a problem in an organization, take an initiative to solve it without hoping to get rewarded for solving the problem. (I wonder, what if you failed to solve the problem, wouldn’t you be fired for taking initiatives that wasted “company time”?)

Other take-away for me was the idea that Linchpin is more about the mind-set rather than the skill-set that you may have. Godin, I believe, does not state this meaning of a Linchpin in direct words, but he does have a chapter in which he walks through the characteristics that one can acquire and become a Linchpin. (I assume the mind-set is effective after acquiring the requisite skills?)

And the benefit of being a Linchpin is that you are indispensable in this new economy. Here are few characteristics of a Linchpin worth pointing out:

1. Linchpins are good at making connections. They are a “glue” that holds the organization together. (Malcolm Gladwell explained who is a Connector in a society, along with who is a Maven and a Salesman…I think the guy who takes pictures of the list of ingredients in a product and check the rating of the health and safety values of the product is a typical connector…)

2. Linchpins understand the power of giving gifts. They understand that the more they give, the more they’ll receive.

3. Linchpins do not “strive” to fit in. They are comfortable with the unique talent that they know they own. (What is this talent again?)

4. Linchpins are passionate.  PLUS they are NOT attached to their own viewpoint of the world. They see the world as it is.  (Is seeing the world as it is not a personal viewpoint?)

5. Linchpins do not need a “Manual” of what they should do. They are good at figuring out path/solution on their own. Do NOT translate it to “Asking for help is bad” (What they do? Start another round of trial and error process to figure out the solution?)

I liked reading about this new concept of being a “Linchpin” as it exposed me to few ideas of becoming indispensable that I believe would help me advance my career. And I can’t wait to work on acquiring the characteristics that were described in the book.

Side-note: I liked it that Seth Godin began by describing why he thinks the new economy is best suited for Linchpins. If you have read the first couple of chapters then it’s hard to put the book down.

Conclusion: So if you are part of an organization, and you aim to advance your career, give this book a shot. It does NOT tell you “what” to do: After all, Linchpins do not need “instructions”, right? But the book does share some key ideas that would help you advance in your career. (Aren’t these pragmatic ideas expected to be mostly reviewed?)

If you care to know the style of Godin, here is an example:

Stick to what you (don’t) know

“One of the dumbest forms of criticism is to shoot down an expert in one field who speaks up about something else. For example, the actor with a political point of view, or the physicist who talks about philosophy.

The theory is that people should stick to what they know and quietly sit by in all other situations.

Of course, at one point, we all knew nothing. The only way you ever know anything is to speak up about it. Outline your argument, support it, listen, revise.

The byproduct of speaking up about what you don’t know is that you soon know more. And just maybe, the experts learn something from you and your process.

No one knows more about the way you think than you do. Applying that approach, combining your experience, taking a risk…This is what we need from you.” End of quote

I loved that suggestion: If you think you know something that interest you, which is necessarily out of your restricted field of expertise, the best way to know more is taking opportunities to express it in front of people for feedback…

Be bold: You are the least of the “dumbs” in the audience who hate to discuss anything out of what they think they know…

Note: The reviewer of Linchpin offered a few of her review to check out:

http://parasdoshi.com/books/One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, Shantaram by David Gregory Roberts

How powerful are consumers? Demonstration in a few examples

I have watched recently documentaries on the power of consumers in action and a book of interviews with famous brand designers.

There are two professors at Berkeley, and they form a team to coming to the rescue of engaged consumers who want safe and healthy products…

One of the professor is in charge of examining and investigating the toxic and poisonous ingredients, and the other professor handle the data-base and the online internet program that evaluate and rank products on a scale of 1 to 10 according to their health content and environmental quality…

For example, a serious consumer goes to a supermarket and take a picture of the ingredients and then check the value-rank of the product as designed by the Berkeley teamAny product lower than 7 for example is discarded for a better healthy quality product…

Maven, those people who are addicted to gathering knowledge and information and disseminating what they know, like this consumers taking pictures of products, were rare a couple of decades ago.  Currently, Mavens are increasing exponentially due to the affordable ease to use tools to connect fast and efficiently to internet data-bases and social platforms.

Modern mavens are putting the heat on corporations to change their habit and culture. Corporations are being flooded with angry feedback on their less than satisfactory quality products.

Amazingly, corporations are buying this validation system from the Berkeley team and other ready data-bases doing the same work of evaluating products, and doing their best to interchanging harmful ingredients with safer substitutes.

This system is spreading in the US and in Europe.

A few years ago, designer and advertiser guru Alex Bogusky developed the Eco-Index to measure everything about a product by computing a sustainability score.  This Eco-Index is an open-source index.

Alex Bogusky recalls that, as a Miami kid, he lived on Burger King Whoppers “Burger King, yeah! McDonald’s, screw them!”  And Burger King’s products were no longer different from McDonald’s: “Corn and soy get cut up and sliced and diced up, and turned into tasteless beef system…”

Alex Bogusky created FearLess Cottage to in order to change the equation to: “In exchange for my dollar, I demand from the corporation a transparent look at how “you behave and how you create this product…” Building consumer awareness and giving him the easy tools to investigating the health, safety, and ecological nature of a product will vastly increase the expectations from a relationship with a corporation…

The other example is the proliferation of “Connectors“, those rare species who have the capability to connect to vast network of people and clients.

Four years ago, a 30 year-old guy from San Francisco got an idea and decided to apply it. He visited his local small supermarket and struck a deal with the owner: “Listen, your lighting and freezing systems are archaic and need to be replaced by energy-saving systems.  I can flood your shop with plenty of customers, and in return you invest a quarter of your revenue generated during that day in renovating your energy system…”

At the marked day, people responded to the call.  Consumers even drove an hour just to join the line outside the street in order to transform an energy waster of a supermarket into an ecological and sustainable outlet.

In Texas, an engaged consumer bring with her a team of specialized contractors in lighting and cold spaces.  Once the client agree on a deal to renovate, the contractors get into action: a win-win situation for everyone concerned.

This idea is spreading in Europe as a wild-fire.

Part 2. “The tipping point” by Malcolm Gladwell

There are three rules that may set an epidemic on the move.

The first rule is that of the few.

This rule refers to the three types of people who can initiate an epidemic.

You have the Maven (a Yiddish word for one who accumulates information and knowledge), the Connector (a person with huge numbers of acquaintances) and the Salesman (a person that is adept at persuading and exercising peer pressure).  These types of people are few, but when they combine their efforts under certain circumstances they may well start an epidemic trajectory and may be the culprit of most of exponentially increased actions going on.

The Maven has a huge data base and reads consumer reports, newspapers, magazines, and even junk mails; he is ready to share his information and knowledge because he likes to be of help to people who come to him.

The Maven goes into such details with his sources and enthusiasm that you end up taking his suggestions to buy or avoid something else.

For example, supermarket managers are not about to cheat out the customers when they advertise low prices on certain products because mavens have gathered the correct information and are ready to confront the manager, and to freely tell their friends and spread the word on any misrepresentation.

The Connector has been involved in so many fields and is so adapted to link up with people and getting to know them and memorize or record their names and addresses that, once a maven has given him a wonderful hint that he appreciated, then he is the one to spread the good news; the connector is the glue.

The Salesman is this special breed of people whose innate task is to persuade people who will end up buying Hush Puppies even if their inclination was not to be caught dead in them.

This gifted and charismatic salesperson is able to infect his audience with his mood by the subtle facial movements, voice fluctuation, and physical gestures which can build a level of trust and rapport in a much shorter time that it takes average well-intentioned people to do.  Basically, salesman sends “outside–in” emotions to susceptible individuals and set the rhythm of the conversation, conducts and synchronizes the conversation like skilled musicians and good speakers.

The author expanded on the few connectors and gave many examples.

For example, if you try to list your friends and then attempt to throw links on who introduced you to the friend and go up the hierarchy then, you will discover that one or two were the source of this circle of friends; not a circle but a pyramid that point to the main connectors.

A computer scientist named Brett Tjaden wrote a program based on the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” where you try to end up with Kevin after you remember several movies that ultimately connected to him; on average it took three steps or three various movies to find Bacon acting in the third movie.

The actor Rod Steiger was found to be the best connected because the types of movies he played in were varied from drama, to crime, to comedy, to thriller, to sci-fi films, to musical, to Westerns, Oscar-winning, to total flop or B movies, to documentary, and to playing most recognized personalities.

John Wayne, for example, made 179 movies in his 60-year career, but they were mostly Westerns and with almost the same actors, thus not recognized as well-connected in the game.

A classic Connector is Lois Weisberg in Chicago.  She worked in various fields as actor, writer, doctor, lawyer, park lover, politician, railroad buff, flea marketing aficionados, architect, and hospitality industry and is now the Chicago’s Commissioner of Cultural Affairs. Once in the mid-1950s, Weisberg took the train to New York to attend, on a whim, the Science Fiction Writers Convention.  She met the young writer Arthur C. Clarke.  Arthur visited Chicago and called her up saying: “Is there anyone in Chicago I should meet?”  Weisberg made a few phone calls and when Arthur reached her home he found Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov who was just in town.

Take the case of individuals in the USA who landed jobs: 56% find jobs through personal connection and 56% of those personal connections can be categorized as “weak tie” such as “occasional” or “rare” contacts.

The second rule is the Stickiness Factor in the content.  

The message has to be memorable for the messengers to be able to spread the epidemic such as “The British are coming” or “Winston taste good like a cigarette should”.

People have to be able to remember what was said in order to ever change a behavior.

Relatively simple changes in the presentation and structuring of information can make a big difference in how much of an impact it make.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

November 2020
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