It’s not what you know, it’s who you know-we’ve all heard that before, and while it is true the recipe for success actually requires both ingredients. Anyone can increase their knowledge thereby increasing the “what you know” portion, but do we have any control over the “who we know” part? Increasing the “who we know” happens to be the single largest contributor to entrepreneurial success. It’s not just about racking up contacts, it’s about making connections.
Meeting new people can be intimidating which is why we often choose to break the ice with a stiff alcoholic beverage or even a cup of coffee. There is actually neuro-science behind the need to consume either of these seemingly opposite, yet equally effective, lip loosening beverages. Everyone knows coffee is a stimulant, many of us rely on caffeine to keep us productive or on schedule; be it coffee, tea, Red Bull or a shot of 5-hour energy, but did you know that coffee has been given the lead role for its part in making the Industrial Revolution happen? That’s right, without coffee we wouldn’t be where we are today. According to a National Geographic expose, most Americans used to start their day with beer, the beverage of choice, and not great at getting your butt to work and is a terrible productivity motivator . Yet, once we were all on board with Folgers in our cup, we showed up to work alert and ready to operate (heavy) machinery, literally. And then there was the added bonus after the mass adoption of this café culture, of making healthier humans, since the boiling of the water for making coffee killed harmful bacteria that were commonly in the water and frequently contributed to illnesses and even death. Yay coffee! (In all fairness to the other side of the pond-I suppose tea has this same benefit).
How well do you know Joe?
Did you know that the very first webcam was stationed to watch a coffeepot- allowing Cambridge researchers to monitor the coffee level at all times, like a fuel gauge.
Google did not invent the campus style office environment; this concept probably goes back to Steve Jobs-sorry Googs. It wasn’t even at Apple either but at Pixar Animation Studios in Del Monte, a pet project of his he was actively involved with. It was in this old factory space that Jobs inadvertently created the forced mingling approach by putting the only restrooms in the middle of the open building to create random frequent run-ins with co-workers resulting in optimal creative output. If you don’t see the connection, first, I recommend reading “Imagine”, by Jonah Lehrer published in 2012, (despite the controversies there is gold worth panning in those pages). Secondly, by utilizing the inevitability of our nature call Jobs forced interaction between departments, between every individual guest, executive, designer, what have you, making it genuinely one multi-lobed think tank.
Aside from this open work flow design, there has also been a proven need for what Lehrer mentions in his book called the “third place”, not at home or at the office, but the “third place” could be; a bar, a coffee shop, the water cooler, the break-room, or rec room, etc. which can now be found within our workplaces. Including these “third places” into the workplace is a modern approach and now not outrageous perks of “the best place to work” we’ve heard of-and of course ROC has been rocking this since the very start as well. It’s really simple actually, making work feel less like work and more like a place you want to be, that even inspires you, works, it works really well. Ask Mark Zuckerberg who situated Facebook in Menlo Park, California (of course), recently renovating, reinventing, redesigning and resituating its headquarters.
As of 2013 and anticipating continued growth, if California were a country it’s GDP would exceed both the Russian Federation and Italy (at $2.2 trillion in the fiscal year 2013, which accounts for more than 7.5% of the total US GDP).
This same book breaks down why so many of the nation’s most innovative cities are in California, why Silicon Valley exists and persists, and the value of what we have created in the state as an endlessly creative co-working collaborative and working cause to save corporate America. Seriously, our way of working in California is working. Sociology is able to closely look at the fibers of our relationships, the web of our networks and explain certain “social behavior and functions” but that’s where the “what you know” comes up short. We need people. We need special people, with skills sets, who also need people with special skills. We work better as a team, as a state, as an inspired generation that is utilizing social interactions to accomplish tangible, incredible goals through angel investors, venture capitalists, and believers who are seeking an innovation and brilliant ideas to believe in.
Entrepreneurs are often attributed with being their own idea factories or overflowing with juicy ideas, but they are not simply a one man or one woman show, they are expert minglers , anglers of feedback, and explorers, always curious and open to others ideas. Collaboration is the concentrate for juicy ideas, and for the best results, mixing well is recommended.