Seth Godin and Chris Brogan had posts this week that have an interesting overlap.
Seth’s point: in order to be the best in the world at what you do, shrink the world. You do that by defining what you do more precisely (some would say narrowly).
Chris blogged on one of my fascinations, Dunbar’s Number. That’s the “Rule of 150” that states that we can have a finite number of meaningful relationships. I’ve speculated about “Dunbar push-ups” from time to time – if most people are limited to 150, is there competitive advantage in raising that number to 155? 160? Chris is smarter about it – instead of raising the number, he suggests using it strategically. Have the *right* 150 people in your network. And, just as importantly, pick and choose people in whose networks you want to be in the top 150.
These two posts by two smart guys have a lot in common. To define yourself narrowly enough that you’re the best in the world, you have to say “no” to a lot of other things you could be. (I’m thinking about that at the moment – Egghead Marketing? How many marketers are there on the Internet? As a marketer who’s done a lot of things, how would I define myself more narrowly, the way Andy Sernovitz defined himself as the word of mouth marketing guy?)
Chris’ strategic use of Dunbar requires saying “no” too. More precisely, you have to say “no” to the idea that “the biggest network wins.” Instead, you focus on the quality of the 150 top folks in your network, as well as on being ranked as highly as possible in the networks of influential others.
Doesn’t sound anything like democratic or egalitarian. (Not a criticism of Chris’ point at all – just reflects my own struggle with zero-sum thinking). More like social Darwinism. (Happy Birthday, Charles!) What are your thoughts – how do you make your network as powerful as possible while remaining human, friendly and warm?
image by alles-schlumpf