Gladwell, M. (2013, June 21). Are you a connector exercise. Retrieved from:
This was one of the first exercises we did in MSC 492-6: Understanding and Leveraging Networks, our last course of the MSC program. I am always a fan of Malcom Gladwell, any time I have read his books or been able to listen to him speak, I learn so much. I was especially intrigued by the title of the exercise, “Are you a connector?” because I have always believed myself to be one. In fact the title on my business card is “connector,” so I was really curious if my understanding of what I thought a connector to be, aligned with the definition provided by Gladwell and if I proved to be one over the course of the exercise. The exercise was reading through a list of last names that Gladwell had collected from a New York City telephone book, and making a note of all the people you knew with those last names. At the end you have a total # and that # indicates if you are a connector or not. According to Gladwell, the average for most of the groups he had complete the exercise is between 39-41 people and he has seen a high number as high as 118, though that is very rare. Another high score he mentioned was 95. Based on these numbers, I would consider my result of 81 to indicate that I am connector. As you will see in my additional thoughts on the exercise, which is part of the artifact, I think the geography of where I grew up, the same place where the names came from for Gladwell’s exercise, probably helped my number. Either way, circumstances are a component of networks but so are personalities. Perhaps I am not yet a super connector, I may become more so with age, but I am certainly more connected than the average person. It was helpful to have that number and this knowledge going into the course. It reaffirmed that I am a connector and it is OK to tell people that I have a knack for making acquaintances. As we learned throughout the course, being a connector also sets me up for success as I grow my career and continue to build my network. I will be looking forward to going through the exercise in a few years time and seeing how my number changes.
Download the following PDF and complete the exercise. Please fill in your score as a text entry in order to get credit for this assignment. Also, add any comments or thoughts, to the entry as well.
It was difficult putting a name to a last name listed on a sheet of paper without context, and without an image and/or first name. The longer I spent looking at the list, the more people I could remember. I cut myself off after one full pass-through and a few pauses but I imagine that if I had spent more time with it, I could have thought of a few more people. What was funny is that one of my family names was included in the list, Cohn. My extended family is very small but I would imagine if one of the names on my list was a family name, with a big family, it would add up quite fast! My biggest takeaway from this is how geography and culture can impact how long the list is perhaps. The list form Gladwell was generated from a Manhattan phone book. I grew up on Long Island, went to school in Upstate NY and lived most of my adult life in NYC, so I likely had more exposure to some of these last names than someone who grew up in an entirely different geographic region. I am also of Jewish heritage and quite a few of the names on the list are traditionally thought of as being Jewish last names.