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Who Is In Your Circle?

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December 3, 2019

Friends? Family? Colleagues? Or perhaps the people that qualify as in-between? 

Your circle ought to be as unique as you are– likely comprised of the folks who share your fundamental beliefs, ordinary and extraordinary experiences, and who walk alongside you during various seasons of life.

Richard Branson has an interesting response to this question.  He (and Virgin) view individual, corporate, and community influence in terms of Circles of Support.  With every outward revolution, these concentric spheres signify an expanded layers of impact.

We took time to diagram our circles along with how our primary method for activation:

Surprisingly, Strunk & White’s iconic writing guide, Elements of Style, prompted rethinking our circles of support.  Specifically, the preference for active over passive voice inspires us to examine how we might transition the roles of those in our circles from spectators to active participants.

com·mu·ni·ty

kə’myoonədē/ na feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

In his book, Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect, Matthew Lieberman explains:

humans are wired with another set of interests that are just as basic as physical pain and pleasure. We are wired to be social. We are driven by deep motivations to stay connected with friends and family.We are naturally curious about what is going on in the minds of other people.

In fact, neuroscience research based on fMRI data demonstrates that the brain contains a distinct network that supports social thinking.  This neural network or pathway is activated by the process of sharing or disseminating information. 

It stands to reason that the process of converting a crowd into a community requires active participation.  Engagement is the key ingrediate in transforming spectators into collaborators.  At the #ThursdayGathering, we endeavor to curate  experiences that are interactive and encourage people to purposefully connect with content and others.  How do you engage your community?

cen·ter

/ˈsen(t)ər/ n. the point from which an activity or process is directed, or on which it is focused.

The folks at the center are usually central to your cause.  It’s easy to identify who falls within this sphere of influence by observing the gravitational force among people who share similar values.This phenomena is known as homophily, which according to sociologists, is the natural tendency to create ties or  connections with one another based on similarities “that confirm rather than test our core beliefs.” 

While homophily can have the negative effect on diversity by cause people to cluster around similarities in gender, age, racial or ethnic origin, educational backgrounds or levels of attainment, industry experience, socioeconomic status, religious affiliation or political views, it is also a powerful tool of connection.

Our VCM Ambassadors and programming partners are the real MVPs.  Without their hundreds of volunteer hours and breakout sessions our experiment in building community would be an epic failure.   We believe that by shiftingthis  central group’s role from conduits of information to a co-creators, we can sustainable energize our base. As we look toward 2020, how do you inspire your central team?

co·re

/kôr/  n. the innermost or most essential part of anything.

Last but not least, the core.  I’m not referring the questionable Sci-Fi flick from the early 2000s, but rather, the organizational nucleus that drives performance and execution.  In layman’s terms, they are your C-Suite, executive committee or leadership team.  Beyond arming this group with the tools execute effectively,  we appreciate Jeff Weiner’s insights on empowering your team through compassionate leadership:

I vowed that as long as I’d be responsible for managing other people, I would aspire to manage compassionately. That meant pausing, and being a spectator to my own thoughts, especially when getting emotional. It meant walking a mile in the other person’s shoes; and understanding their hopes, their fears, their strengths and their weaknesses. And it meant doing everything within my power to set them up to be successful.

To design a cadence of caring through practices that embody “empathy plus action” is quite a radical notion. Yet, these are the very habits that encourage people to go above and beyond the call of duty.  Do you automate compassion? If so, how?

This week, the question of how we value or appreciate individuals in our circles of support takes on a special meaning. Regrettably, we face another tragic loss to our tech and innovation community: Alejandra Agredo. This dynamic 17 year old software developer and transit advocate described her VCM Ambassador role on the Connect Crew as “supporting Venture Café Miami’s mission by creating a welcoming environment and helping others where possible.” May we all aspire to the same.

Leigh-Ann / Venture Cafe Miami

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