That First Link

In some cultures, who are you invokes a long telling of ancestors, of the family tree that goes back centuries.  In others, it’s a nod not just to one side, but both maternal and paternal influences.  With Deaf culture, it’s often school-based, as 90% of Deaf children are born to hearing parents.  The school, not the family, serves as the cultural tie.  And, in becoming an interpreter, my tie was my teachers, my friends, and anyone who may have influenced my signs.  It was a way of nodding to influences, of tying back, and forming a relationship where none existed before.

Humans are social creatures.  It’s how we survived.  We’re wired to find tribes, to prize a sense of belonging.  It’s why community – however it’s defined by the group – is the bedrock of membership.  It becomes a part of who we are.

When we enter a new community, that first tie is critical.  It shapes a number of the ropes that come after.  Think Harry Potter and the train.  He first runs into Draco, but something doesn’t smell right.  Only when he runs into Ron does he know he’s found his tribe.  It forever impacts his entire schooling.

Malcolm Gladwell spent an entire book refuting the myth of the self made man.  In each case, he showed how circumstances, connections, and timing played a critical role.

My first tie into the community was Michael Cristiani.  Michael started using Tableau on version 2.0.  He’s seen it evolve and has been a chronic pusher of the product to keep it doing more.  His first question, asked during the user group, had to do with colors, maps, and getting it to do something that I still don’t think it does (multiple legends, if I recall).  This was when 6.0 came out.  If you’re cheering for this feature, Mike is one of many to thank for it.

He’s also the one who supported me as I learned the product.  Keep in mind, I started my career as an interpreter.  I had limited exposure to databases and did most of my analysis in Excel.  It’s not a pretty migration when you’re used to being an expert in one platform and go to dead-zero in another and still need to get all your work done.  Some people just know how to make life easier.

Known as the Tableau community connector, Michael did for me what he does for everyone.  He matched me up to people he knew I’d like.  Not even LinkedIn can replicate this man’s success in forging connections.  I’m sure a number of people can speak to this.

So much has changed since Michael and I first met.  But one thing hasn’t: my gratitude that there are people in this world willing to reach out and connect.

When you trace your steps into this community, who was your first tie?  How has that shaped you?  And who will you bring into this?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *