My So What…

My dad is a communicator.  He’s been everything from a speech writer to a journalist and worked in a lot of different situations where he’s had to get a message across.   One of our favorite things to do, usually while drinking many cups of coffee and beer now that I’m older, is talk about the good practices in communicating a message.

One consistent thing that’s always come up, whether it’s been talking about a good article or the sermon we heard on Sunday, is whether they included what we’d call a “so what.”  There needs to be some application.  You need to tell people why what you’re saying or doing is applicable to their lives otherwise they’ll feel really disconnected and not pay attention.

It’s definitely something that I think a lot about and try to do as I communicate the various messages that I’m trying to get across.

Maybe this is a function of the place that I’m at in my life but I’ve also been thinking a lot about my “so what.”  Why am what I doing that is important, applicable, and of interest to the rest of man kind?  How am I making a contribution to our collective well being?  I want to be doing something that matters.

I work in the world of technology, specifically things like online communities and social networks, which seem like they can all too often get pigeon-holed as frivolous or banal.  People have this perception of social networks as this place where people waste time by sharing videos of cats.  Yes, that does happen but there’s so much more to it.

We’re helping people use technology to be more transparent about what’s going on in their lives with the hope that this will help them connect, form relationships, and communities that encourage development and advancement of these ideas and each other.

I know you’re thinking to yourself.  “Yes Justin. That’s nice but how does that play out in a practical way?”

Let’s take my running as example.  By using to technology to help to start to be more transparent about my struggle with my physical fitness and my running, I’ve been able to connect with all kinds of people who’re at different stages of the process who’ve been a HUGE blessing to me or I’ve been able to be a blessing to.  We’ve been able to form this community.

In America, well maybe just in Washington DC, we’re having this huge dialog about the state of health care.  Preventive care and how you can keep yourself from getting sick is a big part of this.   What would happen if were open about our physical and mental health, looked out for each other, and encouraged each other, like my experiences with running?   Maybe we’d be healthier and not be having the same problems, which cost so much money later in our lives.

Yes you can take it too far but I do feel like there is this great tremendous benefit from the connections  you make by putting yourself and what you’re doing out there.

I feel like a big part of my “so what” is helping to facilitate that.  It’s helping to connect people together so that they can share the enjoyed benefit of living life together.

I’ve been really blessed to find a job where not only the position is about helping to foster community and building relationships but the product is about helping people to share and connect together over the things that they find interesting.

Have you had that “aha” moment about your purpose or your “so what”?  If so, what has it been for you and how are you playing it out?

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3 thoughts on “My So What…”

  1. I look forward to you sharing more on this theme on Thursday at Ignite. Not only will we get a “so what” out of your talk, but maybe we’ll find our own “so what” in the process. Thanks for sharing and see you soon!

  2. Great advice for a fellow blogger who is also deeply concerned with effective communication and collaboration. Your post has answered the “So What” for my topic today very well, how lucky we are to participate in a connected web of shared experience and perspective.

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