A greasy hamburger points to one direction. A vegan burrito points to another.
In 2020 I made a video for a group of writers called Writer’s Bloc. I can’t tell you how many people signed up because they saw the video. But what matters is that my video connected them to the idea of Writer’s Bloc. The day they pinned it to their Twitter bio was the day I became a connector.
Wherever you are in an organization, whether you work for a boss or if you freelance, you’re doing the work of a connector.
The cashier connects his customer’s debit card to the computer which points to the food.
No cashier, no food.
The caregiver connects his patients to a stretching routine which points to a healthier lifestyle.
No caregiver, no care.
And no matter where you are, no matter what you do, you are connecting.
What does a connector do? A connector creates things. Like a video, or a workshop, or a podcast or a blog post. These creations point us in a specific direction. Toward productivity. Toward joy. Toward compassion. Toward hope and purpose and that feeling of getting out of bed before the alarm goes off. Or, of course, toward harm, shame, destruction, invalidation, mockery, denigration. The connector always has the choice to pick between making something that distracts and destroys, or builds and improves.
A connector is someone who cares enough to fill in the gaps. People don’t really know what they want until you come along and tell them. This is a huge responsibility. You could do what Edward Bernays did, convince (cajole) woman that smoking tobacco is a symbol of strength. Or you could bring something more human, more honest, joyous, and certainly more valuable. Something that doesn’t bring you regret when you look back on your life. Your choice.
The goal of the connector isn’t to convince the masses of anything. Because the masses look for leaders. The connector doesn’t lead. The connector simply points. Not to a cliff, not to a dense fog. But to a path. A clear way forward. The connector points to people who can lead, who know how to lead.
How can I start connecting? Well, you’re already doing it. You just didn’t know it. That tweet you wrote earlier connected someone to something, right? And usually what we connect people to is an idea of ourselves. Me. I. Look at Me and what I am doing. What if instead we pointed elsewhere? What if instead we used the attention economy to bring people’s attention to things that matter? Don’t get me wrong. You matter. But there’s something in you that matters more than just you. And what’s in you is your sight. Your potential. Your genuine care. Your experiences. Your stories. Your indispensable creativity.
So the question becomes: how can I start connecting people to things that matter?
Answered with a question:
What do you want to connect people to, and why?
Greasy hamburgers, or vegan tacos?
Whether you express yourself in writing, pictures, videos, podcasts, don’t worry about presentation. Presentation takes care of itself when you communicate honestly.
How do you communicate honestly?
When you speak about things you care about. Things that aren’t in vogue with the population, but things in vogue with the personal. One who speaks honestly is one who follows the trends of their soul.
Mike does this.
Ciyadh does this.
Salman does this.
Cullin does this.