Category Archives: chemistry

The Same People

Do you constantly hang out with the same people?

The concept of Dunbar’s number is an interesting one. Recently, I have seen more discussion on it and how it relates to social connections.

In short, Dunbar suggests there’s an upper limit to the amount of relationships we can maintain. That number, for the record, is 150.

You can read much more about Dubnbar’s number at Wikipedia.

Mashable wrote about how it relates to Facebook.

Jacob Morgan wrote an interesting piece on how Dunbar’s number is irrelevant and the importance of weak ties.

Chris Brogan talks about beating Dunbar’s number.

Personally, I think it’s all very interesting, but since I’m not a Ph.D., I’m not going to add any scientific arguments to the fray. I’m going to bring it down a level.

If you always go to the same networking events, switch it up. Try some new ones. Meet some new people. Your current network won’t (really) exclude you and you’ll probably meet some new people and learn some new ideas.

If you have a big social network, go out of your way to meet some of them in person or “IRL” (In Real Life – a popular abbreviation on twitter). Often, some of the real-life contacts can introduce you to other real-life contacts.

I have a list of people I want to meet this year, in real life. Some are people I’ve connected with online, others I haven’t. Others are a handshake or two away. It’s an aggressive list but I’m confident I can get it done. To do so, I’ll have to pass on some networking events that are frequented by current friends. In the end, I think they’ll forgive me.

While I find Dunbar’s number interesting, I’m not particularly concerned about managing my 150. I’d much rather venture out and meet some remarkable new people.

CES isn’t about tech

Photo credit: CNET

Social media isn’t about the tools, it’s about the relationships and connections that the tools enable.

It’s the same with CES and similar conferences. They aren’t about consumer electronics or the sessions or the swag. The real value is in the relationships and connections (personal, business and both) that can be developed or rekindled.

Via twitter, I connected with Sarah Austin and attended the opening keynote with Ford CEO Alan Mullaly and got to learn about the amazing new technology Ford is putting in their cars. Think of a Batmobile designed for a digitally savvy James Bond. I never thought a keynote speech could sell me on a car but I really want a new Ford tricked out with all the latest technology.

Through Sarah, I got to meet Scott Monty (head of social media at Ford Motor Co.), Ian Sohn and Karen Untereker, both cool people who work for Ogilvy.

While working the Altec Lansing (client) booth during the middle of the day, I met a bunch of cool people, including customers and other Altec employees I hadn’t met yet. I also met Cory, who dominated our Rockband contest and is better at that game than I am at anything.

At 3pm, I headed up to the Kodak K-Zone booth to listen to Chris Brogan, Jeff Pulver, Adam Ostrow and Daniel Brusilovsky do a great and fun little panel on what the year 2025 will look like. Afterward, I got to reconnect with Chris and meet Justin Levy and Colin Bower in person for the first time – both are super smart guys.

After wrapping up the booth, I met my good friend Donavon Roberson from Zappos for dinner and we both met John Bergquist, a good online friend, in person for the first time. I also met their three of their friends, who I will surely be keeping in touch with.

It’s great to learn about and enjoy the 3D TVs and underwater HD cameras but the gadgets will be different and new and shiny next year. Focus on the relationships and connections you make. They are what endures.

I wouldn’t trade the meetings & connections I had yesterday for any gadget at CES.

(Except a new Ford with the SYNC & myFord technology. Sorry guys, it’s just too cool.)

Enjoy CES and if you’re still here and want to connect, I’m here.

Zappos Insights – Day 2

TonyHsieh-225x300

After a fun dinner at CEO Tony Hsieh’s house last night, today was another amazing day at Zappos headquarters.

My tweet-summary from Day 1 is here.

For more, check out the hashtag #zapposlive.

@ZapposInsights 10:15:01 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: @zappos_alfred talking about difference between information and wisdom (insights) Discussing all sorts of growth. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 10:20:14 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: How do you grow bother personally and professionally? Can’t grow professionally unless you invest in yourself and grow too. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 10:22:04 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: The typical planning process for business growth metrics ends up with the same results. Need to involve more ‘How’ and ‘Why’. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 10:22:59 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: What are going to be the ‘Inputs’ that will help make your company successful? Typical strategies are mostly ‘Outputs’. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 10:24:01 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: You can’t necessarily control the ‘Outputs’, but you can definitely control the ‘Inputs’ to guide the way. #zapposlive

@eldridge2m 10:26:37 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Most companies plan to grow all areas of the company, except they forget to plan to grow their company culture #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 10:28:39 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Building teams that have all three types of people, can help make any process/goal become a reality. #zapposlive

@eldridge2m 10:35:47 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Three type of people on team to build successfully – visionary, artist (creative), scientist (numbers) #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 10:29:55 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: What is your Vision? Zappos started with selection, then service, and eventually found that culture was a big part of the vision #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 10:30:35 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Delivering happiness is overall vision. Your vision can evolve/grow, too! #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 10:31:56 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Focus on the core, the mix of 1) what you can be the best at, 2) you are passionate about, and 3) drives your economic engine. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 10:33:59 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Get Alignment. Get everyone to row in the same direction. Over-communicate by 10-20%. Make sure everything is explained in full #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 10:36:06 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Have a higher purpose. Fight for a cause/Find you calling. Make sure everyone in the company understands the purpose. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 10:38:25 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Large meetings work for communicating certain things, some are better suited to a smaller setting, to make it personal. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 10:44:26 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Come up with whatever metric makes sense, then be willing to change it over time. Can’t use the same measurements over time #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 10:58:38 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Daily sales report is sent to all Zappos employees, and 1500 brand partners. Open communication benefits all parties. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 11:03:41 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: When we hire people, we want to raise the bar for the team. We look to find people who can really make the team better! #zapposlive

@Scott_Allison 11:17:10 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: http://twitpic.com/lmlyx – Advice from @zappos_alfred CFO/COO. Really understand your talent & fill any gaps with your team. #zapposlive

@eldridge2m 11:26:38 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Dave @dave337 www.atlantarefrigeration.com INC 500/5000 speaking how he got “zapped” #zapposlive implemented culture in his company

@ZapposInsights 11:27:01 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: ‘Virtual Bench’ of non-hired potential employees who keep in touch with company because the culture blew them away. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 11:31:57 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: @dave337 is talking about dropping cash bonuses and putting together a 101 dreams list. Employees help each other meet goals. #zapposlive

@eldridge2m 11:35:35 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: @dave337 switched to all google apps to make it easier to connect with everyone #zapposlive www.google.com/apps

@ZapposInsights 11:40:55 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: “It all kind of snowballs once you get a few people on-board with it”. @dave337 on growth of culture at ARS. #zapposlive

@eldridge2m 11:40:57 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: @dave337 talks how Faceball one way to create fun in the office http://www.flickr.com/groups/faceball/ #zapposlive

@eldridge2m 11:44:12 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: “Official site” on how to play Faceball http://www.faceball.org/ #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 12:05:05 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Help Desk is our ‘Concierge service on Red Bull’. Want to make sure all interaction here is as enjoyable as it can be! #zapposlive

@Scott_Allison 12:12:49 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Watch this amazing video which describes how Zappos grow and develop staff and the company for the future http://bit.ly/AnNUr #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 12:24:48 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Roger: We want everyone to realize what it means to really be a service company. Everyone does 40 hrs on phones. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 12:27:04 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Maura: Everyone is trained on the phones, everyone helps on phones for holiday/busy season (even Tony!) No seasonal hiring. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 12:31:08 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Hollie: Performance reviews are always evolving. Half of review is based on core values. Technical performance is other half. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 12:34:26 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Maura: QA and Metrics. We score calls – a lot is put into PEC (Personal Emotional Connection). Customer-facing time . #zapposlive

@jessicalawrence 12:43:21 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Zappos hires less than 1% of all candidates who apply. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 12:47:51 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Roger: Make sure the values are evident in everything that you are doing. Make sure they are incorporated in it all. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 12:51:17 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Dave: Allowing team members the freedom to say ‘Lets try this….’ can really push them to succeed, their input is valued. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 14:26:25 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Lots of WOW! in action. @zappos_drob is explaining how we are going to keep in touch and try our best to help after #zapposlive events!

@ZapposInsights 14:37:25 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Up next: Leadership training with Dr Vik. – Pygmalion effect.. People are only as good as you expect them to be. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 14:41:56 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: http://drvik.com/?page_id=32 Dr. Vik is explaining how to ‘Spin it and Win it’. Take a positive approach to any situation. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 14:43:27 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Benefits of coaching. Employees have a positive attitude, are acknowledged and recognized, resist negativity and are empowered. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 14:50:41 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: People can talk their way around a situation and work out good solutions, just by having a place to discuss it and work it out. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 15:10:46 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: “How can we get a coach on-site without having the extra $$?” – Just do it. Find someone who is trusted in the company. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 15:11:27 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Coaching can be spread out between a group of people in the company. It doesn’t have to be a single coach. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 15:13:24 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Next question – “How can you afford NOT to get a coach?” What line item is more important than the growth of the employees? #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 15:14:44 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Coaching position will pay for itself from the productivity of the employees who are empowered and growing. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 15:30:36 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Leadership vs Management: No one likes to be ‘managed’ or bossed around. We prefer to manage business and Lead the people. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 15:34:54 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Leadership at Zappos sits in the open. Many people can walk up to key leaders and bring ideas/have discussions. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 15:36:13 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: “The time we are here is not just to get emails cranked out and work on projects, it’s to be open and available.” @zappos_fred #zapposlive

@eldridge2m 15:37:14 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: via Fred Mossler – Zappos keeps flat level biz, Sr Execs sit among all other employees because that’s where best ideas come from #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 15:38:02 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: 68% of relationships are broken because? One word. Indifference. Customers come back because of the personal relationship and service. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 15:41:24 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Customers dictate what your brand is. Take them very seriously. Brand and culture are two sides of the same coin. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 15:42:54 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Even though roughly 95% of new orders are placed online, customers will contact us at least once in their time with us. #zapposlive

@eldridge2m 15:43:54 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: You can no longer hide behind marketing campaign in this transparency world customer determines your brand via Fred Mossler #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 15:44:27 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: “We don’t tell people what to do, we just let them know what needs to be done.” -Dr. Vik #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 15:45:18 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: There are a lot of things that exist that were never planned. We give the employees the freedom to pursue their passions. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 15:47:29 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: In 2006 UPS trucks saved 28,541,472 million miles and 3m gallons of fuel by reducing the number of left turns taken. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 16:17:08 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Have you ever told the person (who’s name you wrote down) and told him/her the impact they made in your life? #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 16:27:58 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Talking about Tribal Leadership: Explaining different stages of company culture. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 16:28:12 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Stage 1 – Life sucks. Stage 2 – My life sucks. Stage 3 – I’m great. Stage 4 – We’re Great. Stage 5 – Life is Great. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 16:28:48 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: What stage do you think you are in? You can only upgrade one stage at a time. #zapposlive

@eldridge2m 16:30:16 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Tribal Leadership – Most organizations never make it to Stage 5 – Life is Great! need to help people move up one stage at a time #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 16:33:34 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: What keeps people from reaching goal? Fear of failure, Not enough time? Lack of a sense of urgency. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 16:35:19 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Sense of Urgency: It Must be done. It must be done NOW. Gets things done. #zapposlive

@ZapposInsights 16:39:33 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: If you could talk to yourself about your goals in a month, what would you say? You can! Go ahead and write yourself a letter. #zapposlive

@Zappos_DRob 19:50:46 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Had an amazing time with the Zappos Insights LIVE crew this week! It’s a new batch of culture gurus ready to change their world. #zapposlive

@rachelcosgrove 20:05:40 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Thank you @zapposinsights! Awesome two days of letting us get infected by your culture. Learned lots & met some amazing people. #zapposlive

@jessicalawrence 18:25:11 Friday, Oct 16th 09: One major takeaway from #zapposlive? Remarkable marketing won’t make up for an unremarkable product. Thanks @clayhebert!

@KillerChef 20:26:19 Friday, Oct 16th 09: Thanks to everyone on the #zapposlive team for their hospitality and openness. Looking forward to our 1st class reunion. (hint, hint, hint)

The crowd you run with

west-side-story

“Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for ’tis better to be alone than in bad company.”
– George Washington (1732 – 1799) US Statesman.

It was true in the sixth grade and it’s true now. You are who your friends are.

Not exactly of course, but close enough. The choice of people you associate with is one of the most fundamental determinants of the type of person you’ll be.

Think back to high school. Do you remember any genius jocks who were the lead in the school play but also smoked at lunch and stole cars to joyride in? Not likely.

Now think about your workplace. Rarely are there two lunch tables both split 50% between heads down engineers and smooth-talking field salespeople. Hardcore coders aren’t usually meeting up with the creative ad team for happy hour (they’re over enjoying their own cocktails at Club Syntax).

Now think about your personal group of friends. This is where the widest variety of personalities is seen but if you host a weekly book club, it’s not likely that Official NASCAR Trivia is on your required reading list.

In smaller schools, communities or companies, there is a greater likelyhood for overlap but once the group gets large enough, groups form.

So why does this matter?

If you have a child in school, getting to know their friends is way more important than making sure their biology paper is complete.

At work, mix it up a little. Sit with the engineers at lunch, or tag along to happy hour with the creatives. You’ll learn something.

For anyone, more importantly than running with ‘the crowd’, surround yourself with people that motivate and inspire you. If you’re always being challenged, in a good way, the crowd will pull you up to realize your full potential.

Chemistry…set

“Skills are cheap; chemistry is expensive.”
– Mal Pancoast

Teams that win don’t always have the most talented players. They always have great chemistry.



In the 1980 medal round game, the smaller, less experienced, less talented hockey USA hockey team upset the stronger, more talented Russian squad. The Americans were shorter on talent but had better chemistry. The American coach, Herb Brooks, had spent months selecting not the best collegiate players, but the team that work would best together. The excellent movie Miracle walks viewers through Brooks’ player selection process.


After years of dominating Olympic basketball, on Sunday, Aug. 15, 2004, during 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. U.S. basketball team lost 92-73.

To Puerto Rico.

The 2004 Olympic team went on to lose three games, more losses in a single year than the US Olympic teams had suffered in all previous Olympiads combined. The Americans were so used to dominating because of overwhelming talent, they forgot about the importance of chemistry. Piecing together NBA All-Stars at the last minute resulted in an excess of talent and a shortage of chemistry.

“I’m humiliated, not for the loss — I can always deal with wins and losses — but I’m disappointed because I had a job to do as a coach, to get us to understand how we’re supposed to play as a team and act as a team, and I don’t think we did that,” Larry Brown said.

When hiring employees or assembling a team, talent is important. But if you have chemistry, you’re set.