“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”. Margaret Mead
I listened to a wonderful podcast today hosted by Mitch Joel and featuring Seth Godin. It was 55 minutes incredibly well spent, listening to two industry heroes discussing the future of marketing and the problems with a connected economy. [You can listen here]
Several things struck me during this conversation, which is no surprise really since Seth is one of the few* “industry” people who I recommend that anyone should listen to anything that they’ve ever written or spoken. But there was one BIG thing that made me hit pause while I digested it.
If you only inspired six people in your life to do something significant and meaningful, that would be a life well lived.
6 people. SIX!
Because if those six people inspired another six (different) people, and they inspired another six…. and that happened just ten times, then you would have reached (and inspired) everyone on the planet. All seven billion of them.
That’s how you change the world. Six people at a time.
I like that because I have been brought up in my professional career to think about scale. Whether it is the scale of using social media to “reach” 1.5 billion people within one click, or the scale to sell SaaS via subscription models to as many people as possible, my career has been based upon the laws of large numbers.
There have been times when I tried to speak about the laws of smaller numbers. 150 for example. Dunbar’s number. The scientifically proven number which is apparently the maximum number of relationships which any single person is capable of sustaining.
When I worked closely with Facebook a few years ago, engaged users of the top pages had on average 140 close friends, within their “inner friendship group”. According to research I saw. Logic went that if you could reach those 140 people with a great piece of content, they would reach 19,600… and they could reach 2.7m people…. In a perfect world. Which it is not (obviously). But the sentiment was admirable.
140 is a manageable number. I used it during many of my earlier keynotes to try and inspire marketers to embrace social media for building engaged smaller communities.
“Building a community and engaging with your fans are two entirely different things”. Mitch Joel
6 is an even more manageable number.
So, for anyone wishing to change the world, their industry, or a corner of whatever community they belong to, starting with six people seems a very sensible place to start.
Start small. Think big. Scale fast.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. Theodore Roosevelt