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Are You a Natural Born Connector?

Posted on Jan 5, 2012 by in ThiNK First | 48 comments


I asked myself “Are you a connector?”. I started thinking about people and the result of that conversation is this post. What kind of connector are you? I made a list. We each have a natural preference? What’s yours? Vote! I explain the 4 types more fully below.


An Ideas Connector? > A CREATIVE THINKER

Jan 05, 2012
An Ideas Connector? > A CREATIVE THINKER

That's me. I live in the world of ideas and possibilities. Ideas never arrive fully formed. Acquiring and connecting ideas is a skill set. I work well at forging abstract connections. I'm used to blank looks as I try to explain new ideas. I connect dots where others don't see a pathway. I'm incredibly non-judgemental.

I see possibility everywhere.

Being an idea connector, I connect people when they contribute to the solution. I try to calculate the risk, but that comes second or third. I lead with ideas.


A People Connector? > A SOCIAL THINKER

Jan 05, 2012
A People Connector? > A SOCIAL THINKER

My poster-child people connector has to be @KeithFerrazzi, Author of Never Eat Alone. Keith is an extreme connector who was born pre-digital and has transitioned into a social digital connected age. I've not met Keith, we have spoken, he has play-tested my board game, I've even got a quote from Keith on the box! He lives by his mantra.

Then there's my #usguys buddy @Josepf another extreme connector. I shared an idea with Josepf a few weeks ago and before I'd blinked he'd flipped me intro's to 5 people (I knew some of them), but his action tipped me into action. Like Dominoes. Another natural. I admire connectors. To fearlessly connect people is a true talent. Am I a people connector? No. I connect people via ideas.


A Risk Connector? > A CRITICAL THINKER

Jan 05, 2012
A Risk Connector? > A CRITICAL THINKER

OK, this isn't me. I analyse everything, but I'm not a risk connector. Risk Connectors are analytical. They see challenges. They connect risk. They calculate the total risk of any decision or action. They see the domino effect of one bad decision. They are attached to reality and the current situation. They view their role as protecting the enterprise, protecting process. They see why ideas won't work. As an innovator I've learned to love these people. They bring huge value to the discussion. I hunt out these people to help me in my crusade. They turn my ideas into ideas other people appreciate.

I experienced a lot of these folks at Business Objects (now SAP). The culture was all about analytical or critical thinking. If your ideas pass these people that could be a good thing, it could also mean your idea isn't adventurous enough. I listened to these people and tried to blend in their objections. They see problems I don't see and provide answers I didn't think of. I love to engage with Risk Connectors to help me shape and validate ideas. You'll never change their perspective, but you can win their respect.


A Solution Connector? > A CURATION THINKER

May 23, 2012 by Listly tweets
A Solution Connector? > A CURATION THINKER

A solution connector isn't someone who create new ideas per se, being curative is just a different kind of creative. They think a little more like a museum curator - they tell a story. Their special skill is deciding which bits to keep and which to remove. The put together a Solution or an Exhibit. They let the whole idea tell a story. They assemble.

Another metaphor is standing on the shoulders of giants. I watched this done brilliantly by Dave Kellogg whilst at Business Objects. Dave is a master of assembling ideas from across the gene pool and then crafting a wonderful story.

For me I've learned that Curation is far more effective and far more scalable than Creative Thinking. There's so many books that now talk about the reuse of existing ideas. Curation Thinking is on the rise.

The big question to consider is how is your team? Do you have balance? Do you have dominant preference? Is this by design?

Revision. As of May 23rd I updated this post to include Solution Connectors and Curative Thinking.


Nick Kellet (164 Posts)

Nick is co-founder the social curation platform Listly, that combines crowdsourcing, content curation and embedable lists to drive high-level community engagement, live inside your blog posts. Connect with Nick on Twitter · Linkedin, Facebook and G+ and follow his writing via his other guest posts and on his blogs at and


  1. I would be a mix of critical and creative. (Risky Ideas ;))

  2. I am creative, but definitely a people connector, a social thinker. I like to help build things: companies, groups, parties, projects and for that you need to connect the right people. Even when I write, it’s not always because I have an overwhelmingly great idea to bounce off the universe, but simply because I want to touch people and draw them together around a common need, memory, feeling. That is my deepest motivation. Not as fast as josepf though! 🙂 Love this post, made me think. Thank you nickkellett

  3. Well nickkellet back in the day i would have said Ideas Connector… In fact, had a #Skype call with meghanmbiro this morning that was about people connections but really focused in on IDEAS for her blog… When I connect people it is to facilitate BOTH connections and Idea Generation. Rather like the person in the mad science lab who has an idea of what everyone is doign and likes to run random ideas and people together.

    One of my favorite books is by stevenbjohnson called Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation (2010) ISBN 978-1594487712. One of the main Tenants of that work is that Ideas, or Hunches, were slowly evolving entities that formed through Social Intercourse, sharing pieces of ideas informed and evolved with each other allowing for more of the “Adjacent possibilities” to be seen or come together.

    So I enjoy smashing people together both as spot-on connections AND to facilitate the advancement of our species. Have at mentioned Mr Johnson, perhaps he’ll clean up and expand upon my rough comments. 🙂

    • @Josepfmeghanmbirostevenbjohnson I love that book. There’s a whole vein of books on the source of ideas. So many I made a list a while ago.

      I’ve read most of them. In fact I’m writing a book on innovation too, but then cool idea like @listly distract me from writing:)

      Thanks for the comments. You are my mad scientist friend:)

      • @nickkellet@Josepfmeghanmbirostevenbjohnson@listly that book inspired an early #usguys logo the one with two turtles colliding

  4. I’m ideas, especially in my teaching and editing. Identify the problem, brainstorm for a solution, then make it doable for other parties. I LOVE getting through to kids that nobody’s ever managed to before. It just needs some creative workarounds other than the usual “school” style channels.

    I started to vote, but then found I had to sign in through Facebook or Twitter. I’m getting fed up with feeding Facebook everything I do. It just bugs me, ever since I found out that Mark Zuckerberg wants to control the entire web! Call me ornery, I guess. 😉 I’ll probably change my mind and come back and vote anyway.

    Such a flighty gal, eh?

    • @Almost60Really Funny on the sign-up thing. most people won’t signup without FB or Twitter as they hate giving emails. You can do it:) Just for me:)

  5. Primarily a Critical Thinker with a few dashes of Social Thinker thrown into the formula. I look at an idea, problem, project at every angle to determine course of action. If I know of person that has information that you want or need, I will make introduction.

      • @nickkellet Sure Nick, just give me a tweet, FB message or old fashion phone jingle! 🙂

  6. I would have to heartily disagree with @nickkellet ‘s claim of not being a People connector. In our Skype conversation this past week I was most impressed when Nick quickly and fearlessly offered to connect me to @houseofbrew (Jonathan Brewer) and offered to connect me with anyone else who may be of help to me on my mission. (see for deets) I was very motivated and encouraged by Nick’s reaching out to me and as a result will do whatever I can to promote and connect Nick to whomever may be of service to him.

    Oh yeah, I am definitely a People Connector and Ideas connector 🙂 Definitely agree with you Nick regarding the value of these individuals. They are certainly a catalyst for the visionaries and creatives among us.

    • @Lanceweisser@nickkellet@houseofbrew Thanks! My thinking was about picking your one core natural ability. I can do a great job of being a people connector, but it’s not as natural as my idea connection.

      • @nickkellet@Lanceweisser@houseofbrew Having known him for 35 years I agree with Nick am new to livefyre but added a comment re Nick above. Lance however most people would love Nicks people connecting skills but his creative connecting is his most natural, I can tell you stories of this when we were kids when Nick connected three of us to create one of his first games. Remember Nick?

  7. I am a people connector Nick as you know. Having known you for 35 years I think you are to a degree but clearly not extreme definitely your box is the creative which is also mine given I am an ENTP (the MTB experts will know that) ianaspin is a people connector whilst I think lilachbullock is like you creative.

  8. I think I’m an accidental connector. =) People will see me tweeting with someone or chatting on Facebook and viola…a new connection. I like being intentional as well when I have the ability. So, as my Twitter description says, I want to be just like @Josepf

    • @MimiBakerMN One day Grasshopper, one day…. Now back to Waxing my car. 🙂

  9. I’m always in for ideas and that totally makes me an Ideas Connector with a sauce of People Connector. Seeing opportunities in challenges… The people behind the ideas are equally important though… I think Ideas Connectors would be poorly functioning if they are not People Connectors as well.

  10. Nick,

    An org model I use may apply: Innovation Connectors (actually the main way I use the Connector term in the model): They see innovation and communicate *in a way that makes it make sense for people to follow.* To me, this type of person “connects” Creators (people with ideas that break with status quo) with Builders (people who rally resources to instantiate new ideas). It’s a critical role and the best practitioners tend to become senior Marketing folks.

    Cheers, Ken

  11. I am a people connector – and one that sees ideas that I “own” to completion. As much as I love being a people connector it comes with considerable risk 🙂

    I believe a successful project needs all three types of connectors

    PS: wow @livefyre wants some nasty permissions for Facebook so I’ll find a better way to share this 🙂

    • @Tweet4OK@livefyre Hey there, Jeremy from Livefyre here.

      Hey there, Jeremy from Livefyre here.

      The only reason we ask for those things is improve your conversation experience by allowing you to incorporate your Twitter and Facebook social networks into the conversation via our social mentions, sharing, etc.

      All of your information is 100% secure and will never be sold to third parties nor information posted to your wall, Twitter stream, etc. without your explicit permission. You can trust us 100% to protect your privacy 🙂

      Let me know if you have any other questions, I’d be more than happy to answer them!

  12. I say you are missing one key element, the Weaver, that one person, who weaves all the components together, that is able to gather all the insights from each person and make things stick. People-Idea-Risk all seem to go together naturally, yet, they need, require, to be woven into a tighter, cohesive unit.

  13. Nick, great post and you know I love you because I dread commenting on livefyre because of the email onslaught that typically follows 😉 yet to figure out how to stop it. Sigh

    Of course in this case I’ll welcome it 😉

    • @SMSJOE I think you are not alone in your feelings on @livefyre -Perhaps we should invite @livefyre to the #hotseat on #usguyschat cc @ken_rosen cc @xDeepS to talk about what’s the right level of email updates – I love the tool and I love the enagement, but I can see/feel the pain. Sounds like it would be a great topic. Anyone elese feel this way about @livefyre ? I’m prefer over @disqus but I get the challenge

      • @nickkellet@ken_rosen@xDeepS@livefyre@livefyre@livefyre@disqus Not a bad idea at all Nick like you I can see some advantages it’s the difficult to manage part I struggle with . For this particular exchange it is helpful

      • @nickkellet@SMSJOE@ken_rosen@livefyre@livefyre@livefyre@disqus Told ya 🙂 But I am getting used to livefyre.

  14. Nice post Nick – recently just started following you. All necessary, but I call myself at work the CDC (Chief Dot Connector) which really is about knowing where everything is happening for our team, our clients & our connections & making sure the right people are talking to the right people at the right time. Most problems have been solved before – if you can connect the right people & thoughts, there’s a good chance some pain’s been saved & a better solution achieved. Cheers. Scott

    • @ScottyMac8888 I like the notion of a Dot Connector . I was chatting offline with @lttlewys (see below) – We were exploring about a 4th option – > Puzzle Connectors who are “Blended Thinkers” > sounds similar to a Dot Connector:). Fun discussion.

  15. NIck-this is an interesting twist on the old psychometric models that have been bandied around for 3 decades. Always a two-edged sword to define yourself and risk constraining yourself and your thinking by the definition. Regardless, it’s fun to wonder what you are:)

    • @hughculver The premis of the Idea Hunter, and this list of books ( ), is pretty much that all new ideas are old ideas morphed in a new way to bring them into currency. From the comment it seems people seem to lead in one and follow in another. It would be pretty hard to be all 3 – and I sense there’s a 4th category emerging for “Shapers” who help filter and reassemble other people’s idea > “Giant Connectors” > they stand on shoulders of others (giants). This comment flow has really helped me evolve my thinking. Thanks

  16. I think I’m a creative thinker – but to be honest – I felt like I was out of my league on all of these – I loved your graphics and thought the entire concept was provocative – spent the last 2 days thinking about what you were intending.

    Eventually, I decided to choose the one that sounded most interesting – rather than choosing it based on what I actually “do” –

    I also read the comments – they furthered my own conception of your types… smart people 😀

    • @SamParrotto We’ll have to chat about this on Skype or in person. You perhaps are an “Emotion Connector” – you see/feel things other’s don’t sense. There you go breaking my model:) To extend that a bit …

      You very much are an “Experiential Thinker”. Wow. Hadn’t thought of that before. Heck does that mean I now have 5 types:) Now. Thanks for that idea. Triggering me to try and place you in my model. Hmmmm. Needs some thing time. Thanks for sharing

      • @nickkellet I am laughing… and I feel better already – it didn’t sit well that I didn’t have an obvious place in your line up. I decided it was because I’m not really a social media upstart – but I do like the emotion connector or Experiential thinker one is really fun… can’t wait to chat about this… 😀

  17. It’s just a matter of degrees to go from idea connector to people connector – just connect the people who have the ideas 🙂 Thx for the mention.

  18. Hi Nick. This is a fantastic post! So appreciate the ideas here. I’m not “one” but a blend so I see a 4th category as well. After speaking to you for a few hours you are a definitely a connector. Not clear you can be categorized just yet. We need more time. Let’s ponder.

    • @MeghanMBiro this reads as though you are the risk connector 🙂

  19. Hi Nick. Thank you for mentioning me on Twitter, thus leading me to your wonderful article : D My gut reaction is, I’m a ‘Risk Connector,’ for I’m realistic and see what is, rather than what is not. I would have to agree with @keithferrazzi regarding the ‘matter of degrees,’ to go from one type (connector) to another, although from my experience, my process is reversed. This risk taking leads me to creative ideas and connecting people as a result. Nick, in my short time engaging with you, I would say you are a natural ‘people connector,’ but you tell me ; )

  20. I consider myself a Idea Connector, every week I come up with CREATIVE THINKING for connecting people via @intDesignerChat I also consider myself a visionary. With a broadcast and print background I founded Interior Designer Chat in June of 2010 and have been pioneering in the Twitter chat collaboration and connecting area. I saw and visioned connected professionals in our community, via offering educational events in 11/2010.

    This was people connector and idea connector, with beautiful connections of brands, professionals and education via 3 day events. The social connector lead to live industry trade shows and events, teaching the power of social media and collaborating with like minded professionals. Connecting people and brands, is part of my passion of ideas and possibilities.

    • @NoirBlancDesign@intdesignerchat It sounds like you’ve been having fun online. Just the way it should be!

  21. I’m def an idea connector! My synapses fire when I’m alone with ideas or in a room of other idea connectors…… I’d love to learn to play nice with the other types of connectors as we need everyone’s strengths. Social media has saved my life because I can connect with like minded peeps, be hyper creative and also isolate if I need to. Great post, Nick…. you always inspire

  22. I would like to consider that I am a critical thinker … but I think I am somewhat of a Hybrid  I identify with critical thinking and that satisfies the “receiver” portion of my work processes, I am also a “transmitter” as well as a “receiver” and  I leave the best description to that it the creative thinker /Idea connector. The bifurcation is a bit difficult to articulate except that I do tend to take a situation and weigh options and opportunity and personal and professional benefit and systemically effect something new or using a old thing or process in a new way, 

    •  @JosephGier I think it’s a bit like snowboarding. We have a leading foot. Were goofy or regular. I think we all blend a little in our thinking, but we lead with one prevalent mindset. I like the transitter / receiver / repeater idea. I must have missed that fact you commented a while back. I swung by again today to reread this and connect these ideas to new thoughts. Thanks for commenting. Apologies for my tardy response. Did someone say squirrel, Nuts!

  23. I’m more the social thinker and creative thinker types. I tend to like meeting new people and enjoy connecting people who I think would serve each other’s purposes well. I always have ideas brimming, but need others to see them through to reality. Risks often be damned in pursuit of fun, new things to do, so my friends and family tend to keep me grounded.

    •  @doomzTO I love your comment. Risks be damned in pursuit of fun! What a wonderful mindset. I enjoyed our exchangd on the chat group earlier . Thanks for swinging by:) 

  24. Interesting way of breaking it down! As with everything else, it’s a continuum so if I had to classify myself, I’d probably be something like 25% social / 50% creative / 20% curative / 5% critical. The 5% is only attributed to the fact that I actually added up all the %’ages correctly. Me like letters over numbers any day. 


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