Adam Grant has a superb essay in the New York Times this weekend titled Networking is Overrated.
I enjoy Adam’s writing immensely (his book Give and Take is a huge inspiration for my upcoming book #GiveFirst). Early in the essay, he has a strong lead in.
“It’s true that networking can help you accomplish great things. But this obscures the opposite truth: Accomplishing great things helps you develop a network.”
He finishes the essay with a great punch line.
“If you make great connections, they might advance your career. If you do great work, those connections will be easier to make. Let your insights and your outputs — not your business cards — do the talking.”
Now, great connections can result in special things. I’ve always believed in being open to random connections and for years I would do a random day once or twice a month, where I’d meet with anyone for 15 minutes. Some magnificent things have come out of this, including Techstars and my relationship with NCWIT. As I’ve gotten older, and more visible, it’s been harder to maintain any rhythm around random day, but it shifted to something else that’s congruent with what Adam is saying.
While I still try to respond to all of my emails, I now have very little available face time or phone time. So I allocate whatever is free to people who are doing interesting things. Instead of having random days, I have “react and spend time with people doing interesting things” days.
Remember, I’m an introvert. In Adam’s sequel to his NYT article titled To Build a Great Network, You Don’t Have to be a Great Networker (enjoyably / ironically on LinkedIn), he says:
“It’s possible to develop a network by becoming the kind of person who never eats alone, who wins friends and influences people. But introverts rejoice: there’s another way. You can become the kind of person who invests time in doing excellent work and sharing your knowledge with others.”
Get to work. Seriously – just go do some stuff. You’ll be amazed at what happens as a result.
I read Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant’s book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy a few weeks ago. It’s a must read for every human on this planet.
Some of you know that I’m a huge fan of Adam Grant. His book Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success is a key inspiration for the #GiveFirst moment, my own personal philosophy, and my upcoming book #GiveFirst: A New Philosophy for Business which should be out in 2018.
I’m also a huge fan of Sheryl Sandberg. I don’t know Sheryl well, but we hung out a few times 15 years ago and both Amy and I thought she was awesome. It’s been awesome to watch what she’s achieved – first at Google, and now at Facebook.
It’s even more remarkable to read the clarity with which she has processed the sudden loss of her beloved husband Dave Goldberg. I met Dave a few times in the last 1990s when he was running LAUNCH Media (we were investors via SOFTBANK) but didn’t stay in touch after Yahoo! acquired LAUNCH. However, many of my Bay Area friends were close to Dave and viewed him reverently.
Amy and I have lost several close friends in the past three months to cancer and suicide. Another friend was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. We are getting older and death is becoming a more visible part of our life experience.
Exploring how to process mortality is hard. I talked to a friend on my way home last night who is struggling with this. While these conversations are hard, I learn a little with each one.
Recently, I’ve been referring friends to Atul Gawande’s amazing book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End which is the best book I’ve read so far this year. I also send them to Paul Kalanithi’s book When Breath Becomes Air, which was one of the best books I’ve ever read. I know “best” is a weak qualifier, so just know that they are both in the same league as Norman Cousins’ classic Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient: Reflections on Healing and Regeneration which had a profound impact on me in my mid-20s.
I just added Sheryl and Adam’s book to this league. Life and death are complicated. If you, like me, are constantly exploring it and trying to understand it, and yourself, better, I encourage you to read Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. Sheryl and Adam – thank you for writing it.
There’s a longer article on HBR by Adam about the general concept of generosity burnout. It’s a good read and it’s helpful to me as I start working on my next book, Give First.
Several people have picked up from the tone of some recent blog posts that I’m wandering up to the edge of this. I’m at my limit emotionally and made a conscious decision a few days ago to change modes through at least the end of Q2. I cancelled all my work travel in Q2, uncommitted to a number of things that weren’t already in process, and generally decided to focus my energy on what I’m currently working on, rather than add to anything new, especially in the “this could be fun but I don’t know why I’m doing it” category.
I already say no 50+ times a day. I’ve also tuned out a ton of noise around things I can’t directly impact. That’s not the issue. Instead, it’s remembering to ask myself “do I want to do this while I’m in my current mode” at least twice before I say yes to anything.