The Impact of Experimentation

First thoughts on how randomly connecting with 100 others can change your life…

It’s the ripples of influence that everyone and anyone we meet can have that helps us get to where we’re going…

Ten months ago I wrote a Medium post that connected 101 complete strangers. In the intervening time, although the project splintered and trickled, I’ve come to realise the major impact these people have had on my life, even where they don’t know it.

This week, a novel called What Pretty Girls Are Made Of was published by Simon and Schuster. I downloaded the Kindle version this morning (you can do the same here in the UK and here in the US) and just knowing it exists makes me smile.

What Pretty Girls… is written by Lindsay Roth, one of the #100Connections. We chatted on Skype in the first week of the project and quickly became firm friends. In the intervening time we’ve been in regular contact and even managed to meet for breakfast on the 30th floor of The Shard in London — where bizarrely I took a photo of the view from the toilet, yet failed to get a shot to remember the meeting by.

As I read the acknowledgments section at the front of Lindsay’s novel, I was struck by this sentence:

It’s true that it takes a village to write a book, and each of you has shared your knowledge, observations, advice, and friendship with me…

That’s the exact truth that the impact of #100Connections has been built on. The pools of people, the ripples they create, the connections they make radiate outwards. Lindsay’s drive to write her novel led her to her Literary Agent Lucinda. Lindsay connected me with Lucinda, who has been unbelievably giving of her time and effort in reading over my book idea for Simple. Better. Human. Even if the book never sees the light of day, these interactions have contributed to making me a better writer and more thorough researcher.

And so it goes…

Another #100Connection Ingrid Green created the women’s soccer podcast Cut 2 The Chase and continues to do all kinds of amazing work. Her intensity and dedication blows my mind and I’ve enjoyed the few times we’ve been able to chat on Skype, or exchange thoughts via voice notes and Glip — particularly where Ingrid has challenged me and my ideas. Because of Ingrid’s drive, a Slack channel was born for #100Connections and some cool ideas started to bubble up. More than anyone else, Ingrid made me really consider what the project was all about, why I did it and overall, taught me a lot about myself.

A month or so ago, Sherri Spellic was in London, taking a course. Ever since the project started she’s been kind, supportive and shared interesting articles with myself and the others. In the very early days she very kindly offered me some coaching, which I never got around to taking as I became swamped in work and life. It’s a genuine regret for me and so it was nice to be able to meet up and talk over dinner.

Sherri

Sherri’s on an interesting journey considering her work and that’s something I can really relate to. She quickly (and accurately) pinpointed me as an in for a penny in for a pound kind of person. We had a great conversation, with the level of connection that the project had given us providing friendship over acquaintance. This time I even remembered to take a photo!

There are many others. Some remain actively connected and in touch (Chaz — now that you’re settled in London we will have that drink, oh and I love this!), others make contact occasionally and others I ought to catch up with. Therein lies the fatal flaw with the #100Connections idea — It had no natural platform and Twitter alone could not sustain the initial, exciting, momentum. As a result, there are many of the 100 who I failed to offer adequate help with the initial question of what can I do to support you? I definitely owe some of them.

Jim sent me a small video camera to take some footage and get it to him. I took the footage and was adding it to Dropbox when my internet connection crashed. I then got cold feet and decided what I had was too terrible to send. The plan was to record more and get it to Jim, but that still remains nothing more than a plan.

Jim, if you’re reading this, I owe you and I’m determined to do something worthwhile for you. Let’s think of a project for the camera…

The #100Connections adventure has run parallel to my experiments with work and life over the last year. Both have contributed heavily to who I am and what I’m doing today. As I work increasingly with complex and dispersed global organisations, I’ve started to understand the value that random connections across geographic locations can create in terms of perspective, creativity, idea generation and support.

As I reflect on the impact, I realise there are some involved for whom the project barely registered — that’s expected in any gathering. That’s also the excitement — the ebb and flow of who, where, what, why and how, all of us loosely bound by a hashtag that unleashes unlimited possibility.

Which is why as Lindsay comes to launch her novel, Ingrid next crowdfunds a project, or any of the others need support, there remains something they each have in common with 100 other people spread across five continents. We were all part of this and whether we’ve been impacted by or helped impact individuals or the group more widely, there is the basis of an identity, a network that was built around the question what can I do to support you?

That’s a powerful thing.

PS — In case you’re wondering…

toilet

By Andy Swann on August 3, 2015
Exported from Medium on July 15, 2016

Working Out The Work Project.

Is it possible that after seven months investigating alternative perspectives on work, the answer might be to get a job?

The last time I sat and wrote a proper update on my adventures in the world of work was January. It was a dark time. I’d just learnt a major lesson in what work not to do –namely work purely for money- and had my confidence smashed. I’d started to look into the real emerging trends in work — freelancing, tasking and everything else related to the sharing economy, started to think about more creative projects and committed to writing down my ideas on people-focussed organisations. My bank account was beyond empty, I was scared, it was cold outside and in panic I started to scan job listings.

Just over three months later, I find myself in a very different place. The Work Project is working.

Some extraordinary advice and very honest feedback on the book I’d been struggling to write since November helped me raise my game immeasurably. There’s an entire post to be written on that once I’ve seen how it pans out, but this week I’m finishing a draft that bears little semblance to the original scribblings. I’ve committed to really thinking through my ideas and knuckled down to some hard research. The theories are still largely the same, but they’re refined now and it’s been both fascinating and exciting to delve so deeply into business, organisations, workplaces… and my own psyche. I’m not sure if, how or when Simple. Better. Human will enter the world, but the awakening kick the external feedback has given me really got my year back on track.

The process of refining the Simple. Better. Human ideas coincided with an invitation to speak at workplace conferences in Lisbon, Barcelona and Madrid, as well as one to facilitate a day at a workplace design summit in Amsterdam. The experiences really helped me galvanise and test my ideas, find my speaking style (somewhere between stand-up comedy, chat show and enlightened preaching) and make new friends. Having completed the trilogy in Madrid just over a week ago, I’m in reflective mood — I feel like I’ve found my place and now need to take it and escalate everything. This is partly due to the sheer confidence boost from not having been evicted from any of the events and the personal benefits of spending real time in unfamiliar surroundings with people like Doug Shaw who have been through their own adventures in work to get where they are.

Last week I spent a day playing on design thinking with a global group of high potential leaders for a large organisation. One of the things we discussed is that development is ongoing and cyclical. There’s no start, middle and end — you understand, think, design, build and test, going back and round each as you need to. Applying that personally is a great thing, realising that there’s no set path and that it’s all about trying, testing and trying again is liberating. Failure isn’t actually failure, it’s a positive learning experience.

You may have guessed from the above, but I’m starting to get work, too.

In the midst of it all, real opportunities for paid work have started arising. It’s really interesting, amazing stuff too, working with great organisations on worthwhile projects. Although my imposter syndrome is near-overwhelming with every piece of work I do, talk I give, or event I facilitate, it seems to be going well. Again, no one has evicted me from a building yet…

As well as the ability to pay my bills, the work has given me real perspective and an understanding of what it is I love doing. It’s also showing me I can make a living by approaching ‘work’ on my own terms and fitting it around my life.

Beyond the definition of ‘work’ as tasks or a means of earning money, The Work Project has given me a lot personally. My wife remarks that even though our financial situation has been more precarious than ever, I seem less preoccupied with money, generally less stressed and nicer to be around. I’m guessing it’s because everything is in my hands — every day I wake up and personally decide what I’m going to do. I’ve even come to realise that it’s not only ok, but beneficial to give myself the occasional day off.

My side project on productivity, where I’m attempting to wean myself off email in 2015 has opened my eyes to alternative ways of working, many of which are more enjoyable. I’m communicating more effectively and working more productively and although I’m still sending emails, my life is no longer governed by them. It’s proving to be a really positive thing to do.

I’ve been exercising a lot more and with purpose. Feeling healthy is suddenly way more important to me. I’m continuing with my fitness drive and although I know I’ll benefit when I give myself a real reason to train (I’m working on an idea for that at the moment), for now I’m spending more time active and outside, which is positively affecting my mental wellbeing as much as it is helping me ward off the beer belly that too many ‘pub meetings’ would otherwise encourage.

There are so many more nuances to The Work Project, too numerous to go into here –this already feels too me, me, me for my liking. The one other major thing to mention is the people. Every step of this journey has been shaped by the amazing people I’m meeting. Many of those I now call friends were strangers this time last year.

Two weeks ago I had breakfast with the amazing Lindsay Roth on the 30th floor of The Shard in London. Our friendship sums up everything about this journey.

Lindsay was one of my #100Connections and we struck up a genuine connection via nothing more than Skype and, ironically, email. It was exciting to meet Lindsay on her visit to London and, as we both expected, during our first meeting in person it was like we’d known each other for years. That in itself was amazing, but there’s more…

Lindsay has a novel What Pretty Girls Are Made Of being published in August. We’ve chatted a lot about writing and she’s shared amazing and valuable insights into the process with me, but most selflessly, she introduced me to her Literary Agent Lucinda, who has been the source of the extraordinary advice and honest feedback I mentioned earlier. There’s much more to be written on these amazing women as The Work Project continues to unfold, but without having embarked on this adventure, I’d never have met either of them.

In fact, if I’d never done this I’d be many friends worse off than I am now, I wouldn’t be doing work I love for organisations I’d never have otherwise been in contact with. Admittedly, I’m still only a couple of months away from financial ruin at any given time, but personally I’m having the time of my life. I spend more time at home with my kids, more time travelling, more time in the city, more time in the countryside. For the first time in years, as this comes together, I’m living rather than just existing. It feels good.

Where do I take this now?

Officially I have five months to run on the experiment side of The Work Project, but I’m coming to realise that in the spirit of design thinking, my relationship with work is an ongoing and evolving process — there’s no reason to stop.

At the creative end, inspired by the blending of art, work and personal passions I’m looking at trying to find a way to produce a very special blend of music, physical art and workplace theory. As it’s early stages, I’ll keep it to myself for now and let you know how it pans out. Elsewhere, I need to become more immersed in my project on the sharing economy and get some real insights — so far it’s been too tokenistic amidst the distractions of conferences, work and writing.

Ideas are emerging with every conversation and I’m increasingly convinced that I can continue to build a living in a way that suits my life. Really, this should be some kind of vindication and celebration — it’s possible for any of us to do what we truly want to! There is, however, a niggle…

After a busy and extremely fun working week last week, straight off the back of Madrid, some unexpected thoughts are emerging. This adventure has led me to realise that what I genuinely love doing is based on my ideas around creating simple, better, more human organisations. Over the last few weeks I’ve been sharing the ideas in conversations, at conferences and working with organisations on projects that help them do just that.

It’s valuable, enjoyable and rewarding work, but I find myself feeling the lack of ownership. My work and my approach means I dip in and out of organisations, I never see the full process through. I create short-term impact and seed ideas, but I don’t oversee long term emergence.

What Next?

I’m starting to think that, in the spirit of The Work Project as a way to find the optimum relationship with work, because of what I do and where it’s needed, to get true fulfilment out of this aspect of my work I may need to become more immersed in an organisation. Create impact through ownership over a longer-term involvement.

The odd thing is, that there’s only one way to do that… by joining the organisation — by getting a job!

There are some vocations that work best within the structures we call organisations. To truly affect them, you need to be in them. It’s true for the work I do, but it’s not just about going out and getting any job, it’s about the right job, doing the right work, in the right organisation, for the right reasons.

I’m not yet sure whether this is an idea I’ll pursue, but I’m starting to let conversations emerge that may lead in that direction, just to explore them. If The Work Project so far has created a mantra, it’s this:

Every day, do the right thing, in the right place, for the right reasons.

If we were all true enough to ourselves to make that our mantra every single day, it would answer the fundamental purpose of The Work Project — understanding how we can change our relationship with work to make it better. It seems that the second phase of The Work Project may not be a question of what, but how.

By Andy Swann on May 6, 2015.
Exported from Medium on July 15, 2016.

Re-Connecting #100Connections

Failure is never a bad thing. Letting people down is.

I lost it.

Mainly, I lost time, but quite significantly I lost momentum in the project that had started to define my year. As a result, I painfully failed to deliver pretty much any of the support I’d offered my #100Connections as I became buried in the latter stages of 2014. I even failed to take up most of the kind offers of support that they had sent my way.

I’m happy to admit (and learn from failure). I can see where I went wrong.

#100Connections started as a happy accident after I became cross with a lack of conversation on social media. I love the idea of humanising the digital age in any way we can, so what began as a rant became an offer of support to my next 100 followers. The 100 turned up very quickly — I was unprepared and never really caught up from the start.

You can read my apologies as I struggled, but some good things came and I did take action. I witnessed these 100 strangers connecting with each other voluntarily — I saw the project gain a life of its own. It was beautiful — I just couldn’t give it enough to play my part properly. I became a passenger as the momentum stalled.

The main thing holding us back was me.

I started #100Connections just after I’d removed myself from all standard structures of work, in a project to understand ‘work’ better. There was a lull as I found my feet, but as my backup funds ran out, I started getting busier and busier — more busy than I’d ever been, trying to work out how to find a way to pay the bills without resorting to ‘a job’.

There came a point where I had so much to do, I just couldn’t get it all done and the things I loved doing, like finding out about the people behind #100Connections, providing them the support I’d promised, suffered worst. I started feeling stress, which turned to a small measure of anxiety around not making the most of #100Connections, but mostly around my failure to deliver promises.

The anxiety made me freeze even more and instead of doing anything positive or proactive around the project, I did nothing. When I started desperately searching for ideas to maybe turn this side project into part of my living, I should have been concentrating on what it really was — a beautiful, human project and an opportunity to meet amazing people.

100c

Desperation is a funny thing and it’s interesting to reflect now on how my two projects — The Work Project and #100Connections have started to overlap, even when it’s not always been a positive thing.

Things progressed into November with me apologising for falling behind, but (as you’ll see if you look at the dates on the previous posts) I never recovered. On the odd day, where I got a second of time, I reached out to some, apologising profusely and from the responses, something struck me:

No one hated me. No one was disappointed. Everyone understood.

The crippling pressure of failure was my own creation. The idea for #100Connections remained as essential and important as it had been to start with. It’s still there to be done.

Admittedly, expecting to maintain contact via Twitter when Twitter had caused the communication frustration in the first place was misguided, but an attempt to move conversation into Slack.com failed to engage more than a handful of us for anything more than a moment. #100Connections is incidental to those involved, except me, so why would they make inconvenient journeys to connect on platforms with a guy who is so sporadic?

The thing is, with 100 people, there’s no such thing as consensus. The individuality of each member was (and remains) the power of the idea, but it also means we all have very different views. Those views need to be embraced equally, but in

How we connect remains a problem that I think the original 100 can solve — those who are still up for it. I have an idea that I’ll write up in January. There are other things I’d like to do with the project too, but first things first…

Despite what I’m kindly told, I feel I owe these people. I promised something — and I failed to deliver.

Sure I’m still short of time, but little and often is far better than very occasionally en masse. So that’s where I’m going to start. From January 5th, I’m going to reach out to 10 of the #100Connections each weekday, catch up, enjoy the human connection, provide the support I promised.

I’m determined that 2015 will be a positive year. #100Connections was one of the most positive things to happen to me in 2014, so with the amount of unfinished business it has, it seems the best place to start.

Everything else can happen in good time. Let’s just see how it evolves…

The most important thing is to have something to evolve.

By Andy Swann on December 31, 2014.
Exported from Medium on July 15, 2016.

#100Connections: It’s all happening — you just can’t necessarily see it!

This project deserves a better platform — not for the idea, but for the amazing people who make it a community.

Ideas are great things…

#100Connections was an idea I had almost a month ago now and I still love it. A way to connect almost-randomly with people you would otherwise never have met has proved to be a really life-affirming experience for me — and I hope, some of the others involved. But, like any idea, it should have been thought through first. Because, despite the proactive enthusiasm of my new connections, I’ve lost control of it a bit.

Without a dedicated platform, #100Connections has been focussed around Twitter. Conversations have broken out into email, Skype and LinkedIn, but in the main, it’s been Twitter. Because of the way Twitter works, unless I’ve documented things immediately, I’ve lost streams, missed messages and failed to act on things I should have acted on.

Here’s some of the mishaps that keep me awake at night:

  • I know someone created a Google Doc for everyone to record the support they’re looking for, but before I got the chance to do anything with it, I lost it in my Twitter feed and now I can’t remember who it was (I’m really sorry)!
  • I know a couple of Tweets came in asking for me to support by sharing something, but at the time I was in a meeting or otherwise unable to do it that minute. Again – by the time I got to it, it had disappeared into my Twitter ether.
  • I also know that prolific #100Connectionner Ingrid sent me a link to a way of bulk Tweeting the group. Again, I lost the link.
  • Finally, I know it’s taken me a long time to respond to some messages and take action!

There’s been so much positivity and so much input around the idea, that it deserves to be capitalised on. It’s just been hard to keep it all together without a dedicated place for it all and a few parameters for how to instigate it in the first place.

What to do about it

The #100Connections idea, if it’s going to work better and for more people, needs a little tweaking. Yes, it needs an instigator, but it needs to be a community where everyone can input, support, converse and keep the momentum going – rather than waiting for the instigator to get on top of everything.

The idea of 101 people connecting almost-randomly around an altruistic sense of community forged from mutual support is a great one. Where this has worked, it’s been amazing, but, if this is something that might spread for others to benefit from then it needs a model.

I’m sure some of the #100Connections think I’m not doing anything with the idea – the lack of dedicated blog updates and direct Tweets being the main indicator. But as I’ve focussed on starting to provide support individually as I promised at the outset, this has moved to more direct one-to-one conversations. I’ve actually been more involved with the project than ever, just not at engaging the group.

The sheer volume of things to do has also led to slow progress on providing some support. This also leads me to believe that if a platform was there to enable participants to support each other, it would be quicker, more powerful, more engaging for everyone.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the idea for a social network based on the #100Connections principles. I think that would work really well. I also think we have the skills among the 100 to build it ourselves. I think we should do it, but I also need to find a way to fund it first.

Enough of the reflection. It feels a little negative. It’s not!

Here’s some of the things that have been happening:

  • Amazing conversations are continuing with amazing people. I’m truly inspired by the diversity within the group and the potential power behind what we could achieve for each other.
  • I set up a #100Conversations Collection on Medium and added us all as contributors. If you want to publish on Medium and submit your article to the collection, that would be amazing. It doesn’t have to be about the #100Connections, it can be on anything you like, although equally it can be based on your experience with this.
  • I’m working on some ideas to collectively work on with the original #100. I’m inspired by you and would love to talk to you more and even meet some of you to provide support in person. I’m working on an idea to do that and document it – more on that soon. If that’s going to happen, I also want to be documenting how we support each other, so it’s all a little catch-22 with progress on some things at the moment!

What else can we do? Someone in the early days suggested a curated Kickstarter Page, where we could all share our projects and support each other to get things funded. Does that sound good?

Share some suggestions!

The 100 Connections Action Plan:
  • Create a set of parameters so that others could try the #100Connections idea and have it work seamlessly!
  • Build a platform to carry that, so we can spread it to the world.
  • Document the first #100Connections.
  • Provide the support needed/ promised.
  • Get control of things as they are now.
  • Continue the amazing conversations with amazing people.

I’d love for the original 100 to share their experiences and thoughts – maybe via the Medium collection. This has been an amazing experience so far and I want to make sure we keep it going!

By Andy Swann on October 21, 2014.
Exported from Medium on July 15, 2016.

Humanising the digital age.

What #100Connections is teaching us about the value of real conversation with real people.

We live in an age of social media where connection is everything. The choice is ours to connect with business acquaintances, friends and family, or just follow those we’re interested in. All of these are, in some way, curated communities. But what would happen if you started a real conversation through an altruistic question to 100 people you would never otherwise have encountered? Moreover, what would happen if you connected them to each other?

I’ve been finding out over the last 14 days and although we’re just getting started, I’ve discovered more about myself and others than I ever expected.

The how and why of #100Connections has already been covered. I spent the last week or so working out who we all are, where we are, how I can provide support, starting conversations and, surprisingly, being offered an abundance of reciprocal support from people who have already done more for me -and each other- than many social media (and some real world) ‘friends’. In fact, I feel like I’ve known some of them forever.

I’ve now contacted and re-contacted all 100, which has resulted in two-way conversation with over 90 of them. After days of cataloguing amid mild panic that I wasn’t responding to people quickly enough (and discovering I had missed many, many Tweets), I created a map of the #100Connections — which is actually 101 when you include me- using Zee Maps, only excluding those who I haven’t managed to communicate with where there is no location information available on their Twitter profile.

Here it is:

100 Connections Map

You can find the interactive version with Twitter handles here.

Between us we cover five continents, yet at the same time there are members of the 100 in the same cities (and previously unacquainted). We have two with the last name Haas (unrelated) and such a diverse range of personalities, passions, skills and perspectives it’s untrue. It’s an amazing collection of contradictions, contrasts and coincidences.

I was encouraged by a tweet from one of the 100 to count the gender split. Gut instinct from the conversations and activity so far was that we were just over half female, but having counted, it turns out that we have 72 men and 28 women, which in itself says something of the spread of engagement and pro-activity across the group.

There are 4950 possible combinations of 2 people in 100.

The possibilities this opens up for us all are immense. As we’re already discovering:

Despite this being something I started, it’s developing a life of its own. The enthusiasm of the 100 is organically building a community – supporting, connecting, conversing, without prompting from me. There’s no suspicion, automation, spamming or sales, just genuine, human conversations. They are actively taking ownership of this and creating a collective identity as part of a real group. Although I had few expectations, I had fully anticipated catalysing any interaction. The natural –and rapid- way this thing is shaping itself and the positive benefits we’re all getting from it tells me this is wholly worthwhile.

What’s unique is the diversity across the group. Due to the relatively random way in which we came together, the commonalities are coincidental and differences unique. As a very active community emerges from this, it’s a very powerful, global collective that seems genuinely driven to do something together and above anything else, altruistically. ‘Collaboration’ is a word that’s arising again and again.

If Dunbar’s number says the maximum number of stable social relationships we can actively maintain is 150, then 100 connections is manageable, while being large enough to create real value. There’s a lot of talk about how and what we might do together. I’m looking forward to thinking on that more this week as I start working harder on the support I’ve offered. The one certainty as of now is that this is a worthwhile project.

Maybe we should make this ‘a thing’.

An altruistic social network where you connect uniquely with 100 others? Perhaps it’s time to humanise the digital age…

By Andy Swann on October 6, 2014.
Exported from Medium on July 15, 2016.

#100Connections: Rise of the Side-Project

How an idea and a bit of luck seems to be starting something potentially amazing.

Small Beginnings

People leave me amazed and inspired. On Monday, I decided to try a side-project that attempted to create more engagement with my next 100 Twitter followers. It started ok as I posted on Medium and LinkedIn, with a couple of followers added and at least one really great conversation started. Having only amassed just over 500 followers in my years on Twitter to date, I expected a trickle and it looked like I’d have just that. It was just a bit of fun, a little idea to play with.

Then, prompted by Medium sharing the post via their Twitter account (thank you!) momentum started gathering. Within minutes I’d amassed well over the 100 followers I needed for the project and was hit by a wave on enthusiasm, constructive comment, sharing and interest. I was pretty taken aback and I now had a responsibility to deal with it all!

I sat until 2am, working from 3 versions of Twitter to ascertain who the first 100 followers were and reach out to them with an introductory tweet asking

‘how can I support you?’

I tried to thank the re-tweeters, respond to questions and watched as my #100Connections (a hashtag I coined at that point too) started to respond.

It’s strange to think that was only 72 hours ago.

There’s an awful lot to get my head around. At this point, I’m not going to attempt to even start the analysis – I need to take some time to develop conversations with the #100Connections and it’s taking me some time to get on top of it all. In all honesty, I wasn’t prepared for anything so rapid, engaged and positive as this to happen from a little sideshow to my main event, The Work Project.

Already, I’ve met some amazing people, doing incredible things, each unique. Some amazing conversations are developing – others will follow. It’s a massive learning curve.

As I understand it, I need to work out how to develop the idea to make the project useful for us all. The great thing is that between the 101 of us, there’s such diverse potential and opportunity. I think we can really do something.

Making it a Thing

One of the first tweets I received was from Justin (@justinflitter),

@AndySwann Love your project. Let’s make it a thing.

If the #100Connections idea evolves to have a purpose, then I think we should do just that. But what will that purpose be?

  • Will we help each other out and start an altruistic movement?
  • Could we collaborate on a project and actually create something together?
  • Can we structure this idea to justify making it a thing and encouraging others to do this too?
  • Do the #100Connections want any of this, or is the intrigue, conversation and initial question enough?

I’ll only be able to answer that as the (side)project develops. It feels like we’re onto something amazing here, with the potential to do something unique, and hopefully, useful, but it’s up to the #100Connections collectively to decide if that’s the case. The next few weeks will be telling.

The first task is to take stock and make sure I’m honouring my question of ‘how can I support you?’ in a responsive way. As it stands, I’m taking far too long to follow up on, well, everything!

The 100+

The hardest part of this mini-adventure so far has been disappointing the followers who showed a real enthusiasm for the idea, but weren’t in the first 100. Some have reached out and as I connect in some small way with each individual, it’s disappointing that I couldn’t include everyone. But 100 meaningful connections is a fair amount to take on at once and the line, unfortunately, has to be drawn.

I’d like to harness the enthusiasm of those who weren’t in the first 100 to take this idea forward and encourage them to take on #100Connections themselves, once I can fully shape the idea.

A Plan Without a Plan

One of the great things is that there are no rules in #100Connections, it’s a question of starting a conversation, offering support and seeing how this develops. Some of the conversations are already moving away from Twitter – I’ve shared emails, planned Skype calls and received a phone call from one of my connections (Andrew, sorry – I still owe you a call back). But, not everyone would be as open to, or comfortable with, all of this as me, so we may have to suggest some parameters if the idea is to spread. Perhaps individual preference will naturally decide who will be the instigators and who will be the connections.

I love the idea of a genuine offer. One of my #100Connections has already remarked that it’s hard to believe the offer of support from a stranger is genuine without thinking ‘where’s the catch?’, but that’s partly the reason for doing this! The amazing thing is that, beyond any modern world suspicion, many of my new connections have added a condition to the unconditional offer – I’ll let you support me, but only if you let me support you. I’ve found this genuinely moving.

72 hours after I launched this idea, I’m looking at websites, connecting people, reading everything from amazing ideas to great blogs and fiction, watching amazing films, seeing amazing artwork and enjoying the diversity of support a group of 100 people I previously had no connection with actually needs. Equally, I have new people to collaborate with (that I know will create amazing opportunities), constructive advice on my own websites, services and The Work Project itself, offers of coaching, support and much more. It’s a great feeling to think that there’s a group of random people across the world who have never met each other, yet somehow we’ve got each others’ backs.

I can’t wait to see how this develops.

Here’s the complete list of my #100Connections. Follow them, they’re amazing people…

@teabags18, @justinflitter, @ingridium, @izzaboo, @wtjern , @micabilbao, @cjmula, @kirintando, @lynaecook, @dinobalen, @mrboudreaux, @dinobalen, @nphaskins, @lcsimonsen,@amacdowell, @sisuzan, @abdnormal, @mhj, @ekimnazimkaya, @alexobenauer, @ericthegeek, @agingerlegend, @mbuckbee, @strickvl, @troybhaas, @seggitorial, @fortunatedad, @__radical__, @cris_bettis, @heathercimmy, @redrawnoxen, @sancho108, @followvm, @jeremyblachman, @jaspercolt, @tomch, @kevinsidwar, @mattgame, @olilewington, @mrfookes, @jaredwillis, @ckgill, @hrfmichael, @lisaztweets, @sdnyco, @andreasmoser007, @sieurdulhut, @socialkimly, @natetronn, @houstonconsult, @moshjosh, @dieselfiber, @nickyguttridge, @scholarsfame, @doge_ranger, @jimmargo, @bcleveland7, @ryanmorse33, @b_suraj, @ducolentz, @emolabs, @aliviaduran, @rorymasterson, @clogish, @stepheneppling, @tylersimko, @chazhutton, @chelsinheimer , @marcomwright, @nancyguthrie5, @jandreeberry, @chrisdc2, @spectre_7, @greenscreencine, @imcalebt, @jordanscottco, @coltural, @haychling, @cristinagetson, @nicbrain, @jcking_ca, @gomollon, @hoxican, @ericrius1, @christinagiles,@beangilsdorf, @april_c_hearne, @nmorton, @bradensthompson, @loftographyatx, @mouthflowers, @edifiedlistener, @lindsayjillroth, @itsluke, @designedbysin, @mrwthr, @erikinnovates, @smalleran, @leif_larsen

[I will try and get round to making the usenames hyperlinks at some point!]

You can see more using #100Connections on Twitter. Please share your thoughts and ideas!

By Andy Swann on September 25, 2014.
Exported from Medium on July 15, 2016.

100 Connections.

Genuinely offering to help my next 100 Twitter followers, just to see where it takes us.

Twitter has always been about conversation. I love the idea that people might like what I say enough to want to follow me, it’s like having an audience listen in – but sometimes it’s nice to have more. I don’t have a huge number of followers (505 as I write this), but I’d like to show my appreciation by engaging them in something two-way. Maybe I could offer some value back to them?

I recently started experimenting with tweets to new followers I’d never previously met, either in real life or online, in an attempt to open some dialogue. Usually, these are along the lines of:

@TwitterFollower Thanks for following, Sally – great to connect! How can I support what you do?

This is a genuine question, but strangely I’ve had barely any conversation, or response at all, arise from these tweets. In fact, in the last 5 days, here are the stats:

•Tweets sent to new followers: 6
•Responses: 1
•Ongoing Conversation: 0

I find this weird. Surely if you’ve decided to follow me, you’d be happy to engage in a conversation? The one response I did get was a ‘thanks, will let you know’ kind of reply, with no further avenue to converse for now.

I have wondered if my followers think these tweets are automated responses, triggered when they follow me, so I’ve tried leaving it a while between follow and reach-out, while composing them in a way that’s as genuine as possible — to no avail. We all hate automated messages on Twitter, they seem so impersonal and we all seem to be naturally suspicious. But with that in mind, it makes genuine offer and honest interest almost impossible to communicate.

I’d like to do something about that, meet some people and as I’m in the process of understanding how we work, extend that to understand how we engage in the first place. I’d also like to have some new and unexpected conversations, just to see where they go.

Part sideshow to The Work Project, part exploration on where conversations can take us and how they might create opportunity, here’s what I’m going to do:

To the next 100 people who follow me on Twitter, I’ll reach out and ask you a question along the lines of:

How can I support your work?

It’s a genuine question and I’m happy to help, support, discuss… just to see where the conversation takes us.

It’s all within the spirit of The Work Project, it’s also a bit of fun.

I’ll keep track of what happens and where the 100 conversations take us. Your side of the bargain is to join the conversation!

Let’s talk!

By Andy Swann on September 22, 2014.
Exported from Medium on July 15, 2016.