Friday, January 22, 2010

Who Knows Who - It Is A Small World

I was in Boston recently on business and had lunch with a friend from high school. We had grown up in Southern California, but our life paths took us to different parts of the country.

I had not seen Mike Yeh in over 25 years. He had gone to college at Yale, and his interesting and impressive academic and business career has lead he and his family to living in Massachusetts. Our paths crossed thanks to Facebook (we were connected, and when I mentioned I was in Boston, he reached out and we set up lunch). It was a lot of fun to talk with him and discover the stories of his life. The people whom we grew up with, and those we share experiences with along the way, are part of the core of who we are as human beings.

During our conversation it dawned on me that my friend Bill Leake, CEO of Austin internet search company Apogee Search, had also gone to Yale. I know that Bill and I are the same age, which would have put him and Mike in the same class at the Ivy League school. But Yale is a big campus, so I was not sure they would know each other... or even remember each other decades later.

I am never one to shy away from "the name game" when I see a possible connection. You never know who knows who... so I asked. Turns out they did know each other in college. Small World.

It is interesting to ponder who in your life might be connected to others without your knowledge. It is one thing when it happens in your hometown.... but the world is a big place. Big, yet very small. One can be pleasantly surprised sometimes to discover the links we share in common.

I like the Facebook feature that shows you "Mutual Friends". While in most cases you know the "why" of how others are connected, if you look at this often you will sometimes find people from entirely different areas of your life who are linked.

Most of the time the "Mutual Friends" counter shows that I have a few to a few dozen shared contacts with folks in my "Friends List". However one person, Austin entrepreneur Bryan Menell, and I have over 160 shared contacts (that is a lot!). We run in the same circles in Austin, but we also went to junior high and high school together in California. Thus two big parts our lives (the Austin business community and Arcadia High School Class of 1984) are doubly intertwined. He also knows both Mike Yeh and Bill Leake!

The lesson is to pay attention to the stories of people's lives and you will find we are all deeply connected. The "Six Degrees of Separation" theory rings true, but social media might be moving it down to just three or four degrees!

Since all opportunities in life come from people, connecting the dots can mean greater chances for success. Does it matter that my two friends knew each other twenty five years ago? Who knows, but it might! If nothing else it made for a fun blog post today.

Have A Great Day.


1 comment:

Eugene Sepulveda said...

interesting - prompted me to check on mutual friends: Steven Tomlinson (606), Michael Barnes (576), Amanda Chiampi (181), John Thornton (170), Thom Singer (99) . . . cool