This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.
If you have written
posts a single post on LinkedIn's publishing platform, you too received a personalized looking but ultimately impersonal email from one of the editors on March 16th, the start of the most recent TED.
The email begins,
We love that you’re publishing here and wanted to suggest another idea for a post. TED, that annual confab of big ideas, begins soon. Would you consider writing a post timed to the event? We know readers will be paying attention to the news around TED.
At first, I thought I had been contacted because I actually know a thing or two about tech and events. In fact, one of the “questions” in the outreach email was, “Are conferences like TED still useful? How do you personally make the most of them?”
Alas, far from a personal invitation and attempt to help inspire those who write, the no-reply from email and ending which reads, “Note: We are sending you these story ideas because you’ve published at least once on LinkedIn. If you would no longer like to receive emails like this, please click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of this email.” Sadly, I guess the editor's enthusiastic mention of looking forward to reading what I write may not be the case.
The real reason I was disappointed in the arguably disingenuous content bait email is that I thought someone other than me actually cared about my response to “If you were to take the stage and give your own TED talk, what would you focus on? What’s your idea worth spreading? Feel free to think big, but also be specific (and use examples!).”
What You Know Gets Your Hired. Who You Know Makes You Rich.
For quite some time now, I have been trying to create that pithy yet still true way of articulating the interplay between “what” and “who.”
My "what" was a particular performance marketing skillset. That is what I learned while at Advertising.com, and it was that skillset that made me valuable to Oversee.net whom I joined as one of its first employees. That knowhow played a key role in my writing and ultimately in being able to found LeadsCon.
I knew "who" mattered, but my aha moment came the third year of LeadsCon, when someone asked, “Why should we attend. It’s not as though you know more than we do now.” The thing is. They were right. What I knew about lead gen was no longer a competitive advantage. It began to be who I knew and what I knew as a result of those interactions that was the value-add to others.
All of which brings us to an article in Fortune on angel investor extraordinaire Chris Sacca, who went from out of job to billionaire in less than a decade. How? It’s the perhaps ultimate story of what getting you in the door but whomaking ultimate the difference.
Chris Sacca trained to be a lawyer, and that knowledge of the law got him hired at Google in 2003. He made a few million at Google through his being an early employee and the company's stock market success. For us mortals, a few million qualifies as rich, but compared to billions, perhaps not.
So where did the billions come from? Because of who, namely who also worked at Google during that same time, one of them being Evan Williams, a Twitter Co-Founder. That relationship paved the way to Chris being an investor before anyone knew about Twitter.
Think Chris' ability to invest had anything to do with his knowledge of the law? And was it the legal know how that landed him the chance to help Evan Williams sell $400,000,000 worth of pre-IPO stock?
What about being an early investor in Instagram or Uber? Or being offered the chance to invest before almost anyone else from what have become some of the most talked about companies, including Meerkat?
Perhaps he saved money on legal fees with his knowledge of the law, but his continued success has nothing to do with what got him hired in the first place.
And, I guarantee that all the other billionaires in his circle, if we read their story, we will find instances of who making a much bigger impact than anything they knew.