Sometimes The Small Things In Life Matter

No one is too small to make a difference, they just might be too small to do it by themselves. If you can get a few big dogs in to help you out that’s great, but the problem with them is that they can’t be everywhere and help you all the time, look for someone smaller. Turn to the rats to help you out, they are plentiful and will be eager to help you for next to nothing as long as you provide something that makes them happy.

That was the realization I had watching Wanted, when Wesley releases the rats into the mill. He provides them with peanut butter, albeit laced with gasoline, in order to have them help in his mission. Several dozen dogs couldn’t have presented him with the return that he received for the hundreds of rats that went out to return his favor. So maybe you should follow his lead and seek the little guys that want you to help them out, not the big guys that you want help from. How do you think they got big, they helped the little guy out, and he let his friends know about it.

Look at how the successful social-networks grew. They all start with a small focused market, Myspace with Musicians, Facebook with College Students, Twitter with texting and the Early Adopter. Each of these small markets had one huge thing in common, they were set in a location where they could expand to the general population, Myspace to fans, Facebook to older Alum and the general public, Twitter to marketers and people looking for an audience. Then they expanded to the mainstream audiences through word of mouth and the necessity for people to have friends on the network to interact with.

They did 3 things and they did them well.

  • They decided on a market.
  • They expanded their market into a natural evolution of the original Market.
  • The focused on the large groups, of small people, to help spread the message, not small groups, of big guys.

Far too many people have the wrong perspective. They seek to become a giant by standing on the shoulders of other giants, rather than building a self sufficient community that helps each other rise up to the sky. I’m going to show you a perspective variation of the King’s Chessboard, a parable in which a king offers a peasant a payment for his services, the peasant simply asks that the king give him double the amount of rice that he gave the day before, until he has covered each square on a chessboard, starting with one grain of rice. The king soon realizes that he can’t honor this payment as it’s too much for the kingdoms granary.

In my variation, I’ll have the king offering 2 different rewards to the peasant, he can receive 1 billion grains of rice each day until each square has been covered, or he can take the option from the original story of 1 grain of rice and have it doubled everyday for each square. Most people would be blinded by the large sum that they are told they will receive each day and wouldn’t quantify the fact they will actually lose a large sum by taking the larger initial choice. In fact, you will receive only ~.0000007% of the total had they chosen the doubling.

So remember, sometimes it’s better to go with the small people and to take time for the little things in life. They will pay off much more in the long term than always trying to do something that involves the major points in of focus. Take your time and if someone needs help don’t be greedy go and help them you never know the power to change your life they might have.

  • cyberpunkdreams

    Really excellent piece, especially the points regarding how social media grew. And no, the human brain just isn't wired to understand exponential growth!

  • Thank you for the comment and glad you enjoyed the post.

    The social media was an afterthought that occured while writing, so I’m glad it fit in, and the general populace, myself included, definetly isn’t capable to rationally understand the power of exponential gains vs. large base figures.

  • Hi there (sorry, I am a little late to the conversation, hopefully I can add some valuable opinion), so just on the point Rob made, which is a very nice view on things relating to social media, I was part way through reading James's article when I saw this quote “If you can get a few big dogs in to help you out that’s great”.

    I think more and more social media, relating to the real-indepth meaningful conversation from person to person is progressing importance at a slightly slower pace then if a “big dog” mentions you on a webpage, Google, MSN, Yahoo and the other major search engines and vertical directories value the importance of these “big dogs” and give you higher ranking in the SERP's (Search Engine Results Pages), but in social media, that is ALL stripped away which I think make the playing field so much more realistic, and more relatable (no manipulation, just honest opinion)

    You rely on the power of the RT on Twitter which hits aggregate sites and Twitter feeds such as Tweetmeme, or the popular list on Delicious.com to get noticed, instead of random algorithms generated by search engines, social media brings a really personal approach to how links get noticed on the web, and that is however much more slower these Twitter links gain weight in the blogsphere, and as opposed to search engine support (Google Blog Search etc etc), the power of the “interpersonal connection” in social media reigns supreme!!!

  • Josh,

    While all that is a good description I was talking about the social powers such as Robert Scoble, Chris Brogan, Leo Babuata, Dave Winer, etc. as the “big dogs.” They have the power to bring thousands to you quickly, but if that relationship isn't strong enough it could be just a big burst and then flatten out. Whereas if you had a large group of meaningful connections they could help you out and as long as you help them out they are more likely to reciprocate because they aren't as busy being inundated with requests to help others out. Also, your stock in the big guy is less so he doesn't necessarily need you, if you get mad.

    The social web operates sort of like PageRank, were the more people who relate to you the bigger you are, and if you were to converse with reduces the value you provide, due to time constraints. So conversing with a large group of less known people provides a much higher return over time to grow.

    Also, what I wrote works in the physical world as you build a reputation with various people, having a lot of people in that network makes it easier to meet more relative people. The more powerful people there are going to be able to provide other powerful people, but the average person who you've befriended and formed a meaningful relationship will be able to find others more suited to you.

  • Hey James,

    Made a blog post talking about my thoughts related to my sudden realization from my comment I made:

    http://www.joshchandlerblog.com/2009/05/are-we-

    Let me know what you think of it!

  • Hi there (sorry, I am a little late to the conversation, hopefully I can add some valuable opinion), so just on the point Rob made, which is a very nice view on things relating to social media, I was part way through reading James's article when I saw this quote “If you can get a few big dogs in to help you out that’s great”.

    I think more and more social media, relating to the real-indepth meaningful conversation from person to person is progressing importance at a slightly slower pace then if a “big dog” mentions you on a webpage, Google, MSN, Yahoo and the other major search engines and vertical directories value the importance of these “big dogs” and give you higher ranking in the SERP's (Search Engine Results Pages), but in social media, that is ALL stripped away which I think make the playing field so much more realistic, and more relatable (no manipulation, just honest opinion)

    You rely on the power of the RT on Twitter which hits aggregate sites and Twitter feeds such as Tweetmeme, or the popular list on Delicious.com to get noticed, instead of random algorithms generated by search engines, social media brings a really personal approach to how links get noticed on the web, and that is however much more slower these Twitter links gain weight in the blogsphere, and as opposed to search engine support (Google Blog Search etc etc), the power of the “interpersonal connection” in social media reigns supreme!!!

  • Josh,

    While all that is a good description I was talking about the social powers such as Robert Scoble, Chris Brogan, Leo Babuata, Dave Winer, etc. as the “big dogs.” They have the power to bring thousands to you quickly, but if that relationship isn't strong enough it could be just a big burst and then flatten out. Whereas if you had a large group of meaningful connections they could help you out and as long as you help them out they are more likely to reciprocate because they aren't as busy being inundated with requests to help others out. Also, your stock in the big guy is less so he doesn't necessarily need you, if you get mad.

    The social web operates sort of like PageRank, were the more people who relate to you the bigger you are, and if you were to converse with reduces the value you provide, due to time constraints. So conversing with a large group of less known people provides a much higher return over time to grow.

    Also, what I wrote works in the physical world as you build a reputation with various people, having a lot of people in that network makes it easier to meet more relative people. The more powerful people there are going to be able to provide other powerful people, but the average person who you've befriended and formed a meaningful relationship will be able to find others more suited to you.

  • Hey James,

    Made a blog post talking about my thoughts related to my sudden realization from my comment I made:

    http://www.joshchandlerblog.com/2009/05/are-we-

    Let me know what you think of it!