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Minus 6 degrees of separation

Six degrees of separation: Artistic visualizationImage via Wikipedia

I wear a lot of hats. And if you are reading this, I bet you do, too.

If there are truly no more than six degrees of separation between any of us, a decades-old notion cited by journalist Malcolm Gladwell in his book,“The Tipping Point,” then how many degrees do you think separate us as individuals in Greater Des Moines?

I would also wager that the more you network, the faster you come to realize that in a metropolitan area comprising about 500,000 people, there is an enormous amount of overlap in the various professional, civic and recreational communities around town.

If you refine that even further, taking into account only B2B companies and industries such as real estate, branding and marketing, and publishing – in which meeting and interacting with people is one of the most important parts of the job – I would gamble that in your daily comings and goings, you are continually stumbling upon the same names and faces over and over again.

Granted, in larger cities like Chicago or Minneapolis, it is probably safe to assume that people who operate in the business world have a pretty good sense of who’s who.

But unlike Des Moines, a small town with a big-city flavor, do business people and entrepreneurs in larger communities have nearly as much access to one another as they do in our neck of the woods?

I doubt it.

I think most would agree that we are connected in one way or another. Humans, especially the curious and outgoing ones, interact with a wide range of people each and every day. A lot of us run in many, many circles. You know the businessman who rides his Harley-Davidson out of state or to the bike show every weekend? Or the top-level executive who is an integral part of her local running club?

Many of those types are probably connected in multiple ways, though multiple sources, multiple times over. As far as degrees of separation go in our town, I wouldn’t be surprised if that for most Connectors, Mavens and Salesman, the number is no larger than one.

We all wear a lot of hats.

See you in the news!

- Todd Razor

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Great article Todd. While folks in Des Moines may have greater access to a few business leaders I would argue the breadth and depth is limited in comparison. Des Moines has many great business leaders but do they enjoy the same visibility as the leaders elsewhere? I don't think so. Larger cities have a larger spectrum of success which I think makes it easier to identify the "cream of the crop."

Good question. Perhaps it comes down to personality. Some business leaders are more low profile than others, and vice versa. I'm sure there are big players in both larger and smaller cities that either shine like the sun or fly under the radar. Which type are you? Considering the recent coverage or your news business, I'd say you've got it going on Shipton.

Logically speaking, I'm sure people in Des Moines cross paths much more often than those in Chicago or Minneapolis, but as you find your niche or your community and become more involved, then the degrees of separation slim down even more.

What I would really like to see is more people crossing into circles they aren't familiar with, cross-pollinating ideas and resources so that the city as a whole grows stronger. I am trying to do more of this myself, but I think there is a wealth of knowledge and know-how in this town that not enough people realize (or get to experience).

Here's to making more (and different) connections.

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