Travis Darrow: a Social Connector

Before I got known Mr. Travis Darrow, I was proud of my fame of “resourceful/social hub” in my friends circle.  But now I think I am wrong.  I am definitely not the best living example of social hub.

Travis is the most social guy that I have ever met.

I just met Travis in June 11 evening at Shanghai, in the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business party featuring Dean Lyons.  Then I got known Travis is a very active Berkeley alumnus based in Hong Kong.  It was truly enjoyable talking with Travis in the event.

Then the next day I found Travis’ entry on LinkedIn and Facebook.  This guy has 500+  connections on LinkedIn, and 1500+ friends on Facebook.  Oh my god.  🙂

Then I read recommendation words like this:

As the #1 volunteer for UC Berkeley in Hong Kong, Travis is at the hub of so much activity. Travis knows everyone; he is responsive and creative; Travis never hesitates to help fellow alumni.

Travis has been an enthusiastic and professional member of the steering committee of the Berkeley Club of Hong Kong since 2001. Thanks to Travis’ continual and inspiring efforts, loyalty and dedication, the Berkeley Club membership and event participation has grown enormously, which has resulted in countless benefits for the campus.

Oh, then I realized that Mr. Travis must be the “social connector“:

Connectors are people in a community who know large numbers of people and who are in the habit of making introductions. A connector is essentially the social equivalent of a computer network hub. Connectors usually know people across an array of social, cultural, professional, and economic circles, and make a habit of introducing people who work or live in different circles.

Although connectors are rare — only one in several thousand people might be thought of as a true connector — they are, like mavens and salesmen, very important in the healthy function of civil society and business. Connectors are also important in trendsetting.

Author Malcolm Gladwell popularized the term connector in his 2000 book The Tipping Point.

I followed the Wikipedia link to the book The Tipping Point , and found below interesting description:

  • The Law of the Few“, or, as Gladwell states, “The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.”[4] According to Gladwell, economists call this the “80/20 Principle, which is the idea that in any situation roughly 80 percent of the ‘work’ will be done by 20 percent of the participants.”[5] These people are described in the following ways:
  • Connectors are the people who “link us up with the world … people with a special gift for bringing the world together.”[6] They are “a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack [… for] making friends and acquaintances”. [7] He characterizes these individuals as having social networks of over one hundred people. To illustrate, Gladwell cites the following examples: the midnight ride of Paul Revere, Milgram’s experiments in the small world problem, the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” trivia game, Dallas businessman Roger Horchow, and Chicagoan Lois Weisberg, a person who understands the concept of the weak tie. Gladwell attributes the social success of Connectors to “their ability to span many different worlds [… as] a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy.”[8]
  • Mavens are “information specialists”, or “people we rely upon to connect us with new information.”[9] They accumulate knowledge, especially about the marketplace, and know how to share it with others. Gladwell cites Mark Alpert as a prototypical Maven who is “almost pathologically helpful”, further adding, “he can’t help himself”.[10] In this vein, Alpert himself concedes, “A Maven is someone who wants to solve other people’s problems, generally by solving his own”.[11] According to Gladwell, Mavens start “word-of-mouth epidemics”[12] due to their knowledge, social skills, and ability to communicate. As Gladwell states, “Mavens are really information brokers, sharing and trading what they know”.[13]
  • Salesmen are “persuaders”, charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills. They tend to have an indefinable trait that goes beyond what they say, which makes others want to agree with them. Gladwell’s examples include California businessman Tom Gau and news anchor Peter Jennings, and he cites several studies about the persuasive implications of non-verbal cues, including a headphone nod study (conducted by Gary Wells of the University of Alberta and Richard Petty of the University of Missouri) and William Condon’s cultural microrhythms study.

I have not read the book The Tipping Point yet, but I like these kind of discussion on different people roles in a society.  I guess Travis is really the “connector”.

Anyway, it is so good to have Travis as my future Berkeley alumnus at Hong Kong.  It is no wonder that the Berkeley Club of Hong Kong is very strong and active.  Not only does the Hong Kong club have over 1,000 Cal/Berkeley alumni it also contributes the most to the University in donations in Asia (even before the $40 million from Li Ka-Shing).

For myself, I guess I am (or inclined to be) the Maven.  I am always thrilled to explore new information and knowledge, and like to share with other people.  “Information broker…”, sounds like a good job.  🙂

Anyway, it is truly my pleasure meeting and talking with Mr. Travis Darrow, a truly very resourceful and responsive man, and “#1 volunteer for UC Berkeley in Hong Kong”. His LinkedIn: , and Berkeley Club of Hong Kong .

By the way, I have to say the Haas Alumni Network Shanghai Chapter is also pretty active and very supportive.  We have regular gathering events H-BOM, which stands for Haas Bar-Of-the-Month every month: every 3rd Thursday of the month at Racks Pool Bar in Shanghai Xin Tiandi, and it rotates co-host with other business school alumni orgs or other Berkeley alumni orgs.  For me as a new admit, it was definitely very excited to be involved with the Haas and UC Berkeley community.  Ann, Justin, Rong, Louisa, Haibin, Sharon, Zhaohui, thank you so much for organizing so many great events.

Go bears!

One thought on “Travis Darrow: a Social Connector

  1. geekmba360

    It’s interesting that you quoted Tipping Point — that’s the exact example I learned in my “org behavior” class in b-school. There are actually a group of academics who studied social networks. One term they use is “social broker” — people like the  Hass alum you mentioned.
    From marketing a product via word-of-mouth or building personal network, knowing social broker could be extermely beneficial. Too bad, I have neither the energy nor the time to be a social broker, but I guessI could rely on social broker friends to help reach larger audience. 🙂
    Who knows — you might become a maven+social broker after going through haas. 🙂

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