A blog about social, economic and spiritual networking

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

How is Your "Folly Detector"?

I've been wrestling for a while about how to post this. I wanted to say something about wisdom, particularly "business" wisdom, but didn't know how to explain it without sounding "churchy", so here it goes with an alternative spin...

One gift that I have and that I have been developing over the last 25 years as a business leader is what I call a "Folly Detector". It's not a "BS" detector, as BS is pretty obvious to anyone who is been around it, even for just a little while. A question or two exposes BS for what it truly is. [Thanks to Christian Mayaud at Sacred Cow Dung for reminding me of the "BS Generator" website.]

Wisdom is the experience of knowing what TO DO in a given situation. "Folly" is a subtle, tempting, diametrically-poled opposite, and is usually the state of doing nothing, or the state of doing the same thing you've been doing.

"Folly" is very hard to detect, and many, even most businesses and businesspeople, engage in a perpetual existence of it. You never hear people say, "What is the foolish thing to do, I don't want to do that!." Or even more rare, "Is what we are doing foolish?" We seem to get on a path and then stick to it, no matter what the consequences. And that is a real shame!

Merriam-Webster defines "folly" as follows:
1 : lack of good sense or normal prudence and foresight
2 a : criminally or tragically foolish actions or conduct
b obsolete :
EVIL, WICKEDNESS; especially : lewd behavior
3 : a foolish act or idea
4 : an excessively costly or unprofitable undertaking
5 : an often extravagant picturesque building erected to suit a fanciful taste

Many great leaders and executives have highly tuned "folly detectors", some do not. I think it is a gift, that, finely tuned, can be used to build great companies and successfully navigate difficult waters. It's a genuine feeling in the gut, perhaps like a woman's intuition, that may seem to the ungifted as "magic", or even arrogance or presumption.

Having a finely-tuned "folly detector" saves you your most valued resource: time. An executive's (especially the chief executive's) time is the most valuable resource a company has.

The problem with "folly", is that it seems completely natural to follow. Folly is actually the opposite of wisdom, which by its very nature, takes years of actual experience to develop. Folly, on the other hand, is something we all get and have right away, before taking a single step into the business world.

Have you ever wondered why companies are not run like a democracy? One employee, one vote. Does that sound good to you? What would you vote for? A longer lunch break, 4 weeks vacation, guaranteed pensions for all?

Even in the board room, directors sometimes "vote" on important matters, and they should. But running a business is not a beauty contest, and the chief executive is not out to win it. I've seen lots of "fools" on boards, and sometimes they are in the majority.

Many executives fall into success. They got into or started a business just at the right time and they were at the right place and rode into success on their company's back. Usually it was "market forces" that drove those companies to success, not performance by individuals or even individual companies. I'm reminded of the thousands of ISPs that were acquired in the 1990's by public companies with big bucks. There are thousands of guys walking around with millions of dollars, not because they were wise, or had good "folly detectors"; most of them were just blessed by serendipity.

But in the long run, great chief executives and other great leaders need to have and be "folly detectors".

Successful "folly detection":

1) Warns you in advance to avoid a bad path
2) Warns you when you are already on a bad path
3) Warns you that you *might* be on a bad path
4) Warns you that you might want to pursue another path
5) Warns you when the path you are on shifts while you are on it (you are now heading in a bad direction)
6) Advises you on what to do when you discover you are on a bad path

Now, I have as positive an attitude as anyone I know, and I have incredible faith and favor, both in God and in men. But a positive attitude will NOT overcome folly, no matter how positive you are!

Many business people, board members, and VCs, are just too proud to admit they are on a bad path, or just don't know they are on one. I saw lots of Internet companies sticking to their unachievable business plan (the path) after the Internet market meltdown. FOLLY DETECTED! And what did many of those firms do? They fired the founding team and tried to hire "Meg Whitman" (of Ebay) or some other "brand name" CEO. FOLLY DETECTED AGAIN! You would have to assume that it must have been the collective founders' fault for the Internet meltdown, given all of the extricated founders around the country.

I think it costs about $25 million to develop an executive with a honed "folly detector". That's at least how much mine has cost to develop. It takes hundreds of personal hirings, scores of personal firings, dozens of million dollar deals and lots of partnerships. It takes lots of personal interaction with financiers, partners, vendors, industry analysts, employees, and yes, even bloggers.

A word to the wise is sufficient.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Re: The "Cost" of Blogging

From my post on LinkedInBloggers

Hmmm, I'm not sure I know anyone that actually blogs for the money. I mean, who is the customer, and who would pay, and for what?

Some people blog nonsense, some people blog for personal reasons. I'm not sure why I do it. I don't blog that often, it goes in spurts. When I'm in a creative season, it's easy to blog. When I'm not, I don't. It usually takes me about 20-30 minutes to put out a blog article, and sometimes I can write it on my PDA on my 28 minute train commute in the morning.

Some people blog every day. I can't do that. I won't put out something just to say something or to be on a schedule.

The cost of blogging is some time, and some vulnerability. I think that blogging should reveal your soul: your heart, your mind and your emotion. If it doesn't, just post a website...

In reply to:
"OK you bloggers, you have a number of blogging newbies here. I know I am wondering but I bet I'm not alone. What is the 'cost' of blogging?

Some people like to 'gab'. Others like to write. Others still like to talk.
Some like to talk, write, and listen only if it is about themselves. While these people exist, I do not think we have any here. I get the feeling that the bloggers here do it because it makes them money.

It may well be that 'business blogging' 'always' makes more $ than the 'cost' in time (though I doubt the 'always').

The trouble is, that I imagine blogging to be very time consuming, not so much for the time it actually takes to type in but for the time it takes to create the content. It is rare that I can create content on-the-fly. I need to think about it, write it, re-write it, polish it, ask others to review it, etc.

I imagine that I would have to have considerable content prepared before starting to blog. Sort of like buffering a multi-media download. Once I had my 'buffer', I might have a chance to 'keep up' with the 'streaming'.

I'm sure others feel the same. So, how about telling us how to get started and what we can expect from the process."

Thursday, May 26, 2005

LinkedInBloggers group on Yahoo

From my post on: Yahoo group LinkedInBloggers

Joe Bartling here. My main blog is Spiderware.Com, "A blog about social, economic and spiritual networking". I've just started posting articles again,
mostly specific to LinkedIn. Last year, I blogged quite a bit about networking in multiple aspects of life, which is the theme of my blog. I believe that through developing relationships with people through networking and applying ACTION to it, the world can be made a better place.

I've made the case about how networking can open up the hope of adoption to many children in the country of South Africa, where there are 1,400,000 orphans. I have made the case that networking can help prevent and cure blindness around the world: Did you know that 80% of blindness in the world is either curable or preventable? Did you know that effective networking can transform the inner city, giving hope to otherwise isolated bright stars with vision and hope, but having no one to share the vision with.

Anyway, I hope you'll visit my blog and add it to your blogroll and your newsfeed.

Thanks to Des for his kind words and invitation, and good luck with this new Forum! Let's relate!

Joe Bartling

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

LinkedIn: The Myth of Having "Too Many Connections"

From my post on MyLinkedInPowerForum.

To me, having too many connections is like having too much MONEY.
Bring me the connections, and bring me the money! People seem to
think that a person who has "too many connections" doesn't have a
life. Though that may be true :-), it's not because he/she has too
many connections.

This issue seems to be one of "control". People are busy. They think
that by "managing" their number of connections, that they are managing
their time, and or their reputation. The fear is that by having more
connections, that there must be a correlating requirement of time to
manage LinkedIn requests.

I can tell you emphatically that this is NOT TRUE!

I've figured out anecdotally that LinkedIn is handling about
50,000-55,000 requests per month, and that has been fairly consistent
and growing slowly since January. With over 2 million users, the
average number of requests per member would be .025 or 2.5 out of
every 100, meaning that only 2.5% of members get even a single request
in a month. The median number of connections for all 2 million
LinkedIn members is still "1", meaning that more than half only have
one connection.

Though connections on LinkedIn follow a scale-free power law (get my
free report - MLPF message #2400 for an explanation), requests do not.
The reason for this is that there is quite a bit of homogeneity
between two super-connectors, in other words a lot of the same people
are connected to each other, and their clustering coeffecient (see the
paper) becomes closer to one. So two people who have 1000 connections
each, may have a coefficient of .5 meaning that they share 50% of the
same connections.

Because of this, 95% of the connections are owned by less than 5% of
the members. The top 500 users in LinkedIn with the most connections
have a total of about 350,000 connections, an average of about 700
each. But most of them share hundreds of connections between them, I
know I do.

I'm in the top 150 with about 850 connections and I only process about
15 requests a month. It's interesting that that number has not
changed much in 18 months when I only had 50 connections. I've found
that as my number of connections increases, that the number of my
"monkey in the middle" requests have actually decreased. So the
requests I am actually forwarding are typically to and from people I
actually *know*, which is exactly what I want to spend time on. I
spend about one minute processing a request, checking out the profile
of both the sender and receiver if I don't know them, and writing a
short note, then sending it on its way.

If I can process one request every minute, I could process over 10,000
LinkedIn requests every month by myself. Five of me could process
EVERY SINGLE LinkedIn request from the entire LinkedIn network
population. Would I want to do that? YES! Why wouldn't I? Wouldn't
I LOVE to have 50,000 people every month depending on me for
developing and furthering their relationships with other business
people. Remember, when you help enough people get what they want,
you'll always get what you want!

But since I handle all of my requests in 15-30 minutes a month, and
I'm in the top 150 LinkedIn users, why is *anyone* concerned that
their volume might be more time-consuming than that?

I'd be interested in hearing how many *real* requests Christian Mayaud
forwards per month. He has 8 times as many connections as I have, so
he should get 120 requests to forward every month. That should take a
few hours a month, certainly not a huge investment of time considering
the current value of his potential reach. But if my theory is true,
he doesn't receive 120 requests to forward each month. Since he has
*only* 6823 (at least this minute) direct connections, he is only
directly connected to less than .3% of LinkedIn members. If he were
to get .3% of the requests, he would get 165 requests per month,
certainly a manageable amount.

So, what are you worried about? Just BUILD YOUR NETWORK and *relate*
to people!

Joe Bartling

What Does Networking Mean To You?

From my post at MyLinkedInPowerForum

I just started reading Keith Ferrazzi's new book, "Never Eat Alone,
And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship At A Time
and there it is in Chapter one:

"Over time, I came to see reaching out to people as a way to make a
difference in people's lives as well as a way to explore and learn and
enrich my own; it became the conscious construction of my life's path.
Once I saw networking efforts in this light, I gave myself permission
to practice it with abandon in every part of my professional and
personal life. I didn't think of it as cold and impersonal, the way I
thought of "networking." I was, instead, *connecting* -- sharing my
knowledge and resources, time and energy, friends and associates, and
empathy and compassion in a continual effort to provide value for
others, while coincidentally increasing my own. Like business itself,
being a connector is not about managing transactions, but about
managing relationships."

I couldn't have said it better myself and its exactly how I feel about
"networking". I'm only 9 pages into Keith's book and I've already
received many times more value than the $16.47 I paid it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Everything Bad Is Good For You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter

I stumbled onto a radio interview of author Steven Johnson this morning on NPR. I thought, "Could this be the Steven Johnson that I have blogrolled?". When I heard him talking about the interconnectivity of the connections and plots on Dallas, Hill Street Blues, and "24", I knew it was him! I am a fan and I have blogged about one of his previous books, Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software. I am happy to have his as one of only 24 blogs on my blogroll.

I love his intellectual approach to things, and now I know why I like the Fox's "24" so much, and have since the first season. It's the ONE program I watch, and for a guy who lives "connected and connecting", its neat to find out why we do certain things.

His new book is call "Everything Bad Is Good For You" and can be ordered from Amazon here. I've just ordered a copy and hope you will too.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Using Gmail to process LinkedIn connections

Originally posted at MyLinkedInPowerForum

I see that Vincent has posted an offer to share his 50 GMail invites.
(see MLPF message #2985:

I've just set up one of my GMail addresses to manage my LinkedIn new
connection requests. Having learned a thing or two from master
super-connector and self-described "connection slut" Christian Mayaud,
I have now posted my "connection invitations only" email address on my
LinkedIn profile: LinkToJoe[at]Gmail.Com. I, like Christian, am an

Obviously, the problem with using your *real* email address is that
you can get clobbered with LinkedIn requests (or other spam) that
bypass the request cycle and could negatively impact your time
management . Connection invitations ahow up in
your LinkedIn "Action Items" area anyway, so you really don't need the
email address, other than to give LinkedIn a place to verify/confirm
that it is one of your incoming email addresses. Gmail is perfect for
this since it provides a good search capability, spam filter, and ease
of use.

Thanks to Vincent for offering his Gmail invites. Here's a good use
for them. (I have 49 invites I can offer for that purpose too, just ask.)

We'll talk later about the wisdom, er... or foolishness, of putting
your email address in your LinkedIn profile.

Joe Bartling

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Rejecting LinkedIn Invitations May Bring Unintended Consequences

Rejecting a LinkedIn invitation, even politely, can have unintended

In my free report, "How to Double Your Income in Six Months Using
LinkedIn", (shameless plug: see MLPF message #2400), I say this:

"I’ve heard of people wanting to build a certain “type” of network. The problem is, you don’t know who your friends know, so you can’t prejudge how your network will turn out by selectively inviting just a few people. And since most of the important things in life are as a result of “weak” social ties, according to Granovetter, it makes no sense to limit the size and scope of your network."

This applies to rejecting invitations as well as "not inviting

The problem with rejecting invitations is that it can have unintended
consequences, such as creating negative BUZZ about you... Look at
what it has done here! No matter how well-intentioned or even
well-documented policy about your rejection is, it has the potential
of being taken personally by the recipient. We're all human, and many
of us actually have *feelings*... And negative BUZZ is not what you
want in a professional social network.

If you feel the need to reject someone, it may be better to let the
invitation expire without action, or even better, just click on the
"Decide Later" button, which will stop LinkedIn nags about the
invitation until it does expire.

If you don't have something positive to say, don't say it at all.

Joe Bartling

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

LinkedIn: Connections Envy

Okay, so I'm on record saying you need to be connected to a few big
superhubs to get the maximum reach of your potential LinkedIn

BUT then, some people have a tendency to skip the first, and most
important steps of making this LinkedIn system really work.

One thing that is OBVIOUSLY (and purposefully) missing in my free
LinkedIn report, "How To Double Your Income In Six Months Using
LinkedIn" (see message 2400 on MLPF for details), is the idea of
finding lots of connected people to connect to, for the sole purpose
of connecting up to them.

The reason that I didn't bring it up in the report, is that it won't
make you any *money*. You can spend hundreds of hours if you want to,
just trying to connect up with strangers (well-connected or not) in
order to get your number of connections up and your "reach" numbers
up. It might help you "drive for show", but it won't help you "putt
for dough"!

I think the greatest value of the network is in the reach into the
vast number of people who have 5 or less connections. The reason for
that is that you will find that many of the people who have 5 or less
connections, typically have 5 or less connections themselves. In
other words, you cannot reach into the gold held in
the vast "orphans" out there without reaching out to those "orphans".
When you add up those people, they probably make up about 10-15% of
all LinkedIn members (guess?).

Why do we focus on the big connectors? I think it may come from our
fear of rejection. It's easier to send a LinkedIn invite to a
stranger who happens to be a super-connector, than to invite your next
door neighbor, or your son's baseball coach, who just might say NO!
Then you have to explain the whole LinkedIn thing, that you're not
trying to sell them something, you know, we've all been there... In
the sales business its called call reluctance, and we'll do ANYTHING
to keep from making HARD calls, or HARD LinkedIn invites. We think we
can make up for it by doing a lot of easy invites, instead of the hard

I've been guilty of this also, at times, so don't think I'm pointing
the finger at you! I know three of those fingers are pointing back at
me! I did a check of my network (by going to
https://www.linkedin.com/network?trk=tab_net) and found that my 682
connections have 116,200 connections between them, an average of over
170 each! That's insane! It should be much less than that. I
checked a page worth (57 to be exact) of Christian Mayaud's first
level connections and found that they have an average of 15
connections each, vs. my 170. To me that means that his network has
much greater diversity and uniqueness than mine, even on a "per
connection" basis, and certainly in the aggregate. He certainly
deserves credit for evangelizing LinkedIn. I was surprised to see how
many people he is connected to who have him alone as their single
connection. That means he is walking the walk, not just talking the

Does that mean I will stop attempting to connect to super-connectors.
May it never be!!! But I will endeavor to continue to develop
*relationships* with more people, especially those weak in connections
so that they don't remain strangers to the network for long.

This was a lot easier when the whole network was less than 75,000
people. Read this article from the Washington Post last January to
give you a perspective of where we have come with LinkedIn in about 16
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A18526-2004Jan14.html .

I'd be interested in finding out what the average number of
connections other MLPF members' first level connections have, and your
thoughts on the quality of your OWN first and second level connection

All the best,

Joe Bartling

How To Double Your Income in 6 Months With LinkedIn

Some of you know me as a LinkedIn oldtimer (18+ months). In the early
days I spent hundreds of hours digging in to LinkedIn and the
science/math behind it. I wrote a 22-page report with the above
"working title" a while back and just finished it up to the point that
I'm willing to share it on a limited basis.

I'd like to offer a free copy to anyone here on the
MyLinkedInPowerForum, because I feel like you guys (and ladies) have
the motivation and desire to network using LinkedIn, but maybe need a
broader perspective, knowledge, and deeper foundation of why and how
this all works.

I see posts about "zillions of connections" and being the
"most" connected person and sometimes it makes me scream. In the
report I explain that if you connect to a few good super-connectors or
super-hubs, your network is almost 90% as effective as those
super-connectors themselves. Its the mathematics that makes it work,
which is why every city in America is not a airline hub, and why you
never have to have more than one or two stops to get anywhere in the
U.S. on an airplane.

Anyway, just send me a LinkedIn invitation to
joe.bartling@spiderware.com and ask for a copy of the report, and I'll
be happy to email it to you for personal use (not for republishing).

All the best,

Joe Bartling