Find the People that are Saying Something Different

Good list man. I think that there is one thing that I would add one thing…

Seek out and collect oddballs.

Be curious and relentless in bringing different and new perspectives, experiences, etc. into your network of relationships. This can greatly increase your social capital and it does not happen on its own, whether you are developing relationships on-line or off-line.

We have a tendency to seek out and feel comfortable with people that are similar to us in someway and maybe share many of the same perspectives, priorities, etc. There is a great deal of comfort there. Human nature.

The more people that we bring into our world that do the same thing we do and think the same way we do the more that our network can get stale and stagnant. To some extent everyone is unique and brings something new, but we can very easily build a community of very like minded folks that are not necessarily challenging us, confusing us and frustrating from time to time. And we need some of that.

Social media can be helpful in seeking out experiential, professional, cognitive and other types of diversity if you are intentional about it. Social media can also be a bit misleading in this area, as there are a lot of clusters and pools of popularity out there that you can tap into and meet a lot of new people, but they are often people that are talking about the same things (sometimes each other), going to the same events, and holding on to a lot of the same perspectives.

You are a V.P. of Human Resources and you pay attention to what is going on in the world of HR. You can pretty easily get on-line and find the people who are talking the loudest about HR stuff. So can everyone else. And there is some value in staying plugged into that conversation. It is an easy place to meet people and share information and resources and ask questions as there is a common language and framework there. It is especially valuable for those that are earlier in their career and want to learn from and connect to peers.

But it is the people from other professions and interest areas that can most likely provide you with a new and unique and potentially valuable perspective.


Oddballs are the secret ingredient for building a killer network.

So, from time to time it is important to take a look at your network and see if there are any oddballs to be found…

  • are you connected to people that are talking about things nobody else is talking about?
  • are you connected to people that do not agree with what everyone else is saying?
  • are you connected to people from a variety of geographies, professions, cultures, ages, etc.?
  • are you connected to people that are conducting their own research?
  • are you connected to people that do not make sense to you?

The people that occupy the popularity pools provide safety, comfort, reassurance and can help you think about what is going on today. Tradition, the idea of expertise and the status-quo live here in the middle.

The people that are on the edges offer challenge, confusion, discomfort and an opportunity to understand tomorrow. Learning, exploration and innovation live on the edge.



  1. good list of oddballs, joe. i especially like the last — connecting with people who do not make sense to you. when we reach out and attempt to make sense of others' points of view, we challenge our own thinking *and* may just narrow the differences gap.

    need to go check the quality and breadth of my oddballs.


  2. Sometimes "oddballs" are the people who make us angry.

    Getting beyond our anger and seeing the world through their eyes can help us see things we'd never have spotted otherwise. Plus it stops the anger spreading.

  3. Joe, great post! As you well said, it is the diversity of thoughts, minds,professions, personalities, and so on what challenges and briings learning, innovation, and growth. Keep the conversation going!

    Dr. Ada

  4. Joe –

    This concept dovetails well with a book I just finished, "Design-Driven Innovation", by Roberto Verganti.

    A key element he describes of the top innovators is the ability to tap "external interpeters". These are people who are out there, at the edge of where society is heading. They're discussing trends, proposing ideas and exploring shifts.

    The most popular folks do this, but to really get an early signal of changes, and innovate to that well ahead of others, you need to engage these external interpeters.

    Or oddballs!


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