How to figure out if someone is a friend or acquaintance (a person review of Gini Dietrich)

*Note: there is a short plug for my friend’s book in this. I received a free copy a while back, but I also bought one because it’s great

The prototypical Gini Dietrich mischievous smile
The prototypical Gini Dietrich mischievous smile

You can only have so many friends.

This is one of those problems that we all face… the truth is, of the hundreds or perhaps thousands of connections you have online, how many of them could you possibly be sync’d with on a deeper level? You hit the upper limit pretty quickly, as anyone who’s blogged for personal or professional reasons can attest to.

And even more interesting than that, you don’t necessarily need constant contact to be good friends with someone. It’s not the frequency but the quality of the actual content exchanged between people that builds the relationship.

An acquaintance asks “how can I use you”

Lots of people talk about content and context and all sorts of buzzword-y marketing things, but most seem to get bogged down in basic transactions.

This is true of many of my acquaintances – people ask me all the time to share blog posts, contacts, what they’re working on, etc… and expect that if I liked something in the past that I’ll like whatever else they do. I’m not necessarily judgmental about this, it’s human nature, and I’m always happy to take a look.

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“Every Wall Has An Opening” – A reflection on questions, context, and building intimacy

For years I’ve been quietly practicing the art of getting to know people, often quite quickly. To put it in different words, I learned how to build intimacy.

The road there has been a combination of a few things. Some of it is my background in acting, some of it is my love for journalism and storytelling, and a bit of it is just generally learning to ask questions that help people open up about what they like to do and where their passions lie.

It’s a more difficult skill than most people think, and I’d like to share both a little bit about how I approach it, and also some specific examples. One small disclaimer: this is something I’ve learned to do over time, and it’s not a recipe to manipulate people or get things that you want, although those are both possibilities. The risk, if you do go that route, is closing people off and making the walls higher and more solid, and of course along with that building a reputation for being selfish and advancing your own needs and wants completely at the cost of other people. I think that’s probably reason enough in itself to avoid using this framework in a negative way, but it’s important to remember that there is value and usefulness in learning from other people, and also sharing things with them.

I was home-schooled until high school and only occasionally had access to TV. As a result, a lot of my early experiences were, to be honest, mostly in books. And while my parents made sure I got some social interaction, high school and college were kind of a shocking experience for me. I had to learn to navigate environments that were completely new (there are some pros and cons to that, as you might imagine).

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On legacy, and building things that matter

I’m in the midst of a short leave from work to focus on personal matters (my dad is older and I am spending some time thinking about his living situation). 

As I was wrapping up projects and handing off responsibilities before Christmas, my boss half-jokingly said she was afraid that things would fall down while I was gone. I grinned, because, yeah, I’d like to think I’m that valuable…but the truth is that if things did fall apart, I would know I hadn’t done a good job of building structure.

This is something I believe in strongly. I tend to live in the present and don’t spend a lot of time considering what people will think after I’m gone, or hey, really even what they think once I’ve left the room. But I do give a lot of thought to how the things I build will enable others to learn, think, and create structures of their own.

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How scale actually works, becoming more human, and the power of (re)negotiation

Some of the most important things I’ve learned in life were absorbed outside of a classroom or traditional setting.

Most entrepreneur types I’ve met have said the same thing – while other people were following rules, they were making their own.

Of course, I’m more into building models than making absolute statements (“books are dead!” “social media is making us zombies!” “Instagram is making all food taste [better] [worse]”) so you won’t catch me raining fire and brimstone down on anyone.

But I do believe that curiosity, inspiration, and looking for less obvious connections can give us great value.

Here are three things that no one taught me directly, but that I’ve picked up in my travels and that have been immensely useful.

It’s all about scale, but not necessarily scaling up.

In the startup world one of the questions constantly in play is: “will it scale?”

Simplified, this just means that you always want to know if something you are doing now will work when you are much bigger.

It’s a great question, and it’s part of a bigger picture concept that is often overlooked:

To build a company (or life) of consequence you need to understand ecosystem connections, big and small.

This doesn’t mean that you’re stuck on a one-way street when it comes to scale…some things are meant to be small. And even if they aren’t, the building blocks are always worth knowing about.

In science, the relationship between neutrons, protons and electrons is just as important as the relationship between stars and galaxies. Brilliant minds like Einstein, Michio Kaku, and Richard Feynman all understood the importance of this, and in a more modern example you can see it at work in companies like Google, too.

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Lost Christmas? This May Help Find It…

Joe Cardillo:

A good reminder. There’s an element to giving that goes beyond just altruism…it’s a chance to become more, and not less human, something that helps us in all aspects of our life, professional, personal, spiritual, etc…

Originally posted on theinnerwildkat:

Ever feel like you’ve lost the spirit of Christmas? I have. As joyful as the holidays can be for most, circumstance, loneliness and various other things can make it difficult to see past your own pain to the beauty and joy of the season.

There’s something so pure and sweet about this performance of “Where Are You Christmas?” Maybe it’s the fact that this young girl hasn’t been overly coached and trained and that the music is allowed to speak for itself, but it definitely reminds me that the spirit of Christmas is found in allowing love to fill your heart.

So if you see someone struggling this holiday season, take a moment. Do something kind for no other reason than it may help someone else feel better. Spread the Christmas cheer… You’d be amazed at the difference a smile can make to a stranger. Or the generosity of letting…

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The best thing I did this year

Two years ago my life was falling apart.

Bankruptcy, divorce, losing my mom to a 4 ½ year battle with ovarian cancer.

I was, almost literally, unmoored. I remember thinking, this is what it feels like to be a ship lost at sea without a way back.

“I want to go home” constantly looped in my head, but I didn’t know what it meant or how to get there. I drank too much, worked too many hours, and tried to stay afloat. My heart was broken. Some days it still is.

This is often what I think about when I see people doing destructive things to themselves or others. Sometimes it’s a small heartbreak and sometimes it’s big.

We don’t do ourselves any favors when we try to deny that heartbreak. I resist the idea that we can gloss over our problems or concerns, or that anyone is doing life better than anyone else. There isn’t a formula, algorithm or app in the world that can tell you how to be human.

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