Have you ever come to visit me at my office? You’ll find at least one rubber band ball somewhere on the desk. I start rubber band balls. It’s what I do to stay busy. I play with them when I’m on the phone, while in a meeting, or when I need a break and I’m walking around my desk. Now, you might notice that if you visited my desk in 2011, 2014, or 2017, my rubber band ball is about the same size as it always has been. Yet, you’ve seen me adding a rubber band to it, once in a while. You can assume I do it more than that. So, what’s the deal? How can it still be hand sized?
Here’s the answer: The rubber band ball rotates out and it does a lot more than just keep me busy. It’s a symbol of every new GENUINE connection that I make. A genuine connection can be a new acquaintance I click with, breaking down a barrier with someone I’ve known, or connecting two people from my various fields. Student intern and hiring manager? Connection. Selling a client who always says “No?” Connection. Collecting some amazing business cards at a networking event I loved? CONNECTION! And, I have one at home for my consulting business, one for my marketing/e-commerce business, one for my real estate business, and one for my wine distribution business. And, each one of those have various spots around my home office or other offices. So, wherever I’m sitting, if I make a connection, I add a band to the ball closest to me. You’ll find multiple balls around my home office, Long Island office, and New York City office.
In each field or industry, at each location, with each connection I make, I add a rubber band to the ball in front of me. So, some are smaller than others. My e-commerce ball is small because I don’t interact with many customers. My university rubber band ball is fairly large because I’m always making connections with students. So, if I add a rubber band for every connection, and I am a natural diplomat and connector, why isn’t my rubber band ball huge in every office? Well, I’m not in the business of making a huge ball of bands. It would take too long to find the bands and wrap them around. It’s not where my focus is. And, I like the fact that they’re mobile. I can toss it, bounce it, or move it to a new location. So, I devised a way to keep the ball small. I just start it over!
When do I start the ball over? Every time I change positions or organizations, I start a new rubber band ball. If I had a new business product or core business area at my home business, I start a new ball. if I earn a promotion or lateral move, I start a new ball. When that happens, I dispose of the old one. Now, it would be waste if I just threw them out. I used to bring them home to my dog to play with, but I wanted to show off my work and spread the word about the rubber band ball strategy. What I currently do is, when I’m ready to get rid of a rubber band ball, I find a protege or mentee. I tell them this story, and hand them the ball. Hopefully they continue the trend or start their own!
So, there you have it: a great way to quantify your soft skill. The rubber band connection ball. When are you starting yours?