Suggesting that you collect people sounds a bit “serial killer creepy”, but I promise that both in intent and practice it’s not for dark or sinister purposes. A few weeks ago, I met Lew Jaffe, a clinical professor and entrepreneur in residence at LMU and formerly an early pioneer in video conferencing. During our conversation, I asked what I could be doing to further help the entrepreneurs I support. He casually said, “Collect people.” He went on to explain that there is no better way to serve them then to be able to connect them with the person or persons who can best help them at that moment.
His thinking aligns strongly with my belief in the power of the ecosystem, something that I write and talk about often. No founder succeeds in this industry without being hoisted on the shoulders of others. Your tribe, the people you collect, are force multipliers. To expand your reach and your impact, you must have others in your corner who willingly open doors and pave paths.
On the surface, the practice of collecting people sounds self-absorbed and self-serving. It certainly can be if you go about it the wrong way. That is why I want to offer you a radical approach, one that has created a lot of richness and joy in my life. The secret? Give freely and fully.
Networking, the most common and overt version of collecting people was something I deeply hated. I had an admittedly cynical view of the process. It included people slipping on some false veneer and seeking out others from which to extract value. Dark, I know.
I am not sure when or how it switched, but it did. It morphed from a process of taking to one of giving. I recognized that each time we enter a room or situation, we do so with our own unique set of experiences and acquired knowledge. Wouldn’t it be cool to spend time at industry events focused on what we can offer and give versus on what we want and can take?
Guess what I learned? I found out that this radical approach becomes a real superpower. Call it karma if you’re cool with being a bit “woo-woo”. If not, just recognize the human need for reciprocity and homeostasis (balance). Regardless of the label, the simple truth is the more you give, the more you get. I offer with no expectation of a return, but return it does and from many different sources and I am indeed the richer for it.
I hope by sharing this approach, it unlocks you from the shackles that have held you back from getting out there and collecting people. You can do everything else right as a founder, but if you fail to build your tribe of force multipliers, you may never achieve goals that you’ve set. This is a people business in an industry with a robust, vibrant ecosystem that can really help. So, go build your collection and do so by giving freely and fully.