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