During my stint in EDA software, I had a lot of dinners with sales guys and their friends. Inevitably dinner conversation turned to comparing Rolodexes* . What ever happened to Soh Insoh, one would say? He’s at Apple working with Frank. Frank left Azul? etc. Every industry is a small world.
Of course, sales guys aren’t the only ones who do this, we all do. Our past relationships provide a landmark for our lives. But it isn’t a static memory we have of a place, instead it’s a moving landmark that helps us understand where we fit. Our relationships weave our lives together with others and as we grow older, help us see where we belong.
Moreover, when we identify common relationships with people we know, it connects us together. Just as having lived in or worked at the same place with someone connects us, so does knowing the same people. In fact, if there is the possibility of knowing someone in common, that trumps having been to the same place. When we find out we worked at the same company as someone else in the past, usually our first question is, did you know …?
We often think that what we did and where we did it mark out our lives, but our relationships are more meaningful. The path of life doesn’t correspond to a picture of the planet with a timeline. Our relationships provide landmarks that allow us to start locating our place. As the years go on, we start tying all of them together as we describe our life. To properly understand our own path, we have to mark down who we knew – only then can we know where we truly are.
* I wonder how much longer that analogy will work — who has a Rolodex anymore? Reminds me of the story of the babysitter that came over and noticed a phone with a cord dangling from it and commented what a good idea it was to add a cord to the phone so that you’d always know where to find it.
[Photo Credit akarakoc]