There was a time in my life where I was reading a book a week. I read on the shuttle going from building to building at work. I read with a book light in my room at night. I read in the car. I read in the bathroom (who doesn't right LOL) I read anywhere I could get a minute of peace and quiet.
About ten years ago, I was at my uncle's house (who is an avid reader as well) and saw a copy of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell on his coffee table. I picked it up and started reading it. He saw me reading it and started talking to me about the book. I purchased the book the next day.
In essence, The Tipping Point is a book about change and what motivates and pushes change. It discusses how things become epidemics, good or bad.
Gladwell theorizes that there are three factors that must be at play for something to reach its "tipping point."
- The Law of the Few
- The Stickiness Factor
- The Power of Context
The part of The Tipping Point that resonated most with me concerned The Law of the Few. Gladwell states, "The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts." (p. 33) These rare set of social gifts can be categorized by three types:
Connectors are the people in a community who know large numbers of people and who are in the habit of making introductions. They usually know people across an array of social, cultural, professional, and economic circles, and make a habit of introducing people who work or live in different circles. Gladwell attributes the social success of Connectors to the fact that "their ability to span many different worlds is a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy." (p. 49)
Mavens are "information specialists", or "people we rely upon to connect us with new information." (p. 19) They accumulate knowledge, especially about the marketplace, and know how to share it with others. According to Gladwell, Mavens start "word-of-mouth epidemics" due to their knowledge, social skills, and ability to communicate. As Malcolm Gladwell states, "Mavens are really information brokers, sharing and trading what they know". (p. 69)
Salesmen are "persuaders", charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills. They tend to have an indefinable trait that goes beyond what they say, which makes others want to agree with them.
For those of you that know me, which of the 3 do you think best describes me? Before reading The Tipping Point, I thought it was odd that people would come to me asking if I knew someone and if I did could I make an introduction. I also thought it odd that at family dinners my cousins would often say, "Adeea, I've been meaning to ask you about x,y, z because I knew you would know." After reading Gladwell's book, I became comfortable with the fact that I am a Connector and a Maven.
I would say that the connector and maven skillsets are a bit more natural for me, but they still require work, honing and refinement. Fortunately, I had the BEST model my entire life for a connector--my daddy!
My dad spent 27 years in banking (personal, retail and commercial), which is a field largely built on relationships. He has served on many boards and committees in other industries outside of the financial arena (such as healthcare) largely due to his business acumen and connections. His phone rings constantly with people asking for a "hook up" (mostly wanting him to make a call or send an email on their behalf). We call him "the mayor" and EF Hutton. He has seen people he knows or that know him just about everywhere he goes in the country. People that meet him for the first time often say, "I've heard your name for years. I'm glad I got a chance to meet you." He connects people at football games, in church, at Sam's Club (his favorite place) and in the board room. People often comment to me about how my dad connected them to the right people, started them in their career or helped them solve their issue. A true Connector extraordinaire (in my totally unbiased opinion LOL)!
I have tried to take my dad's model and apply it to my own life in that insanely unique Adeea way. Online and in person, I've met quite a few personalities in the natural hair community. I have to admit I usually approach them as a fan, because I am. I have immense respect for the women (and a few men) who have carved their niche and voice in the natural hair, beauty, fashion and style communities. It has always stunned me when some of the women I admire most say, "oh I know you!" Wait. Huh? *insert awkward silence here while I look at the floor and shuffle my feet*
I try to stay connected with people. I admit, it's something I have to work at, but I do try. I don't like to smother people, even online; because I don't like to be smothered. But I do let them know, "hey I admire what you do."
This past year at the World Natural Hair Show I had another moment where I was reminded that I do have the ability to connect. Picture it. Atlanta, April 2013. I was hanging with my "Expo BFF" Diana of Sisters With Beauty (SWB) (click the link when you're done reading this post) and another SWB blogger when we saw a group of fellow bloggers and vloggers huddled in the corner. I tell ya if people knew who was in that corner, they would have been in "natural hair heaven"! I asked Diana if she knew them. We went over, I made a couple of introductions (she knew some of them I think), business cards exchanged, hugs given and this picture snapped.
From l-r: Naturally Kela, Sisters with Beauty, Lexi with the Curls, Trendy Socialite (me!) and It's Arkeedah
This is probably my favorite picture from the ENTIRE weekend! Why? I feel like it was an impromptu meeting of The Mutual Admiration Society. Some may look at this picture and think because they are bloggers/vloggers that there is competition. Nope. Everyone supports and respects each other's voice in the community. That's what true leaders do.
I have come to realize that my mind thinks in terms of sharing information and making connections. I founded International Natural Hair Meetup Day, because I wanted to do something to help make those of us in the Natural Hair Community feel closer, more connected. I also wanted the chance to share knowledge and my own personal experiences with others interested in hosting events in the natural hair community. So INHMD seemed like a natural extension of who I am as a Connector and Maven. I and others can attest that business relationships and valuable friendships were forged as a result of connecting with others through INHMD.
The Maven and Connector side of me reared its head again as a result of planning INHMD and hosting webinars leading up to INHMD to share information with hosts on a variety of topics. I realized several things:
- Most of the people (mostly women) I'm connected to have a sincere desire to have a successful blog, group, business or brand
- They would like a community with like-minded people who they can go to for advice, use a sounding board, share their own tips with, etc.
- They want a space where they can motivate and be motivated
- They want a space where their ideas will be respected, honed and treated with utmost care
- They want to accomplish things while maintaining some work-life balance
- They want to expand events beyond just natural hair into other arenas such as fashion, beauty, style, health and wellness
- They sometimes pull double, triple, quadurple duty as business owners, bloggers, vloggers, event planners, etc. and need motivation on juggling it all
So my mind started working and here is what it came up with:
iGrind Naturally is a FaceBook group for those serious about upgrading, honing and perfecting their craft in the style community. It is a group not just limited to the Natural Hair Community, but to the fashion, style, beauty and health and wellness communities as well. In 24 hours over 50 women have joined the group and the interaction is stellar already!
The purpose of this post is not to say "look at what Adeea has done." I wrote this post to illustrate that getting to know who you are as a leader (and no matter your role, you are a leader) and becoming comfortable with operating from that vantage point is tantamount in becoming an effective leader and voice in your field of expertise.
Perhaps The Tipping Point isn't the book for you. Maybe you should take a personality test like Myers-Briggs (I'm an ENFP). In my opinion what reading books like The Tipping Point and taking MBTI tests do is help legitimize some of what we think and/or feel. For me, it gave me more freedom and permission to follow naturally the way I tend to think and/or feel. It has helped me pursue (really create) opportunities that I probably would have been unsure about had I not known what type of person and leader I am.
Take some time and get to know yourself as a leader...I hope you will find it will make your endeavors more enjoyable for you!
What is one book that helped to shape you as a leader?