Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The 40: Riffing on GapingVoid's 'The 20'

I mentioned in my review of Hugh Macleod's Evil Plans that I got a few good ideas out of the book, and that I wanted to do a post related to one of them.

Hugh has an idea in one chapter called "The 20". It's also discussed here, but the short version goes like this: In your space (professional or other), there are 20 people that matter. Make a list of them. Now ask yourself which of them read your stuff, know what your are doing, etc.

Not a bad idea, but I thought it might be improved in two ways.

First off, it's a little soft. Reading your blog might be a start, but which of the folks on your list would call you if they were looking to hire? Would call you if they needed an opinion on a difficult question? Would invite you to a dinner party of movers and shakers at some industry event? In short, how many of the folks on your list would put YOU on THEIRS?

Secondly, another part of the book contained the following (Canadian) quote-based comic :

So, putting two and two together, and allowing for some margin of error (50% fallout):

The 40:
  • Make a list of the forty people you believe will be the most important people in your space in 3 to 5 years time. There are many relationships you want to cultivate, but these should be higher on you priority list.
  • Start following them. I don't mean on twitter (though that's a start), but what they are doing, publishing, shipping, saying, etc. Play their games or read their books or whatever.
  • Be of value. When you see the opportunity to contribute, do so. Doesn't matter if they know you or not, because if you are of value, they'll know you sooner or later.
  • Revisit and rejigger the list from year to year.

OK, now two caveats:

1) I'm not suggesting you do this opportunistically or disingenuously. I think you'll end up finding that these folks are the most interesting and engaging people to engage with anyway, and so in a sense I'm saying "spend more time on relationships with awesome people because they tend to do awesome stuff".

2) I haven't actually done the above, at least not in a structured fashion like I'm suggesting. Now that I've written it down I might. However in retrospect I think that I've been subconciously doing stuff like this for years, and have been fortunate to cultivate relationships with people who are awesome and who are now doing awesome stuff. For that I feel very lucky, and I'd like to make sure I do more of it.

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