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How the search for “social proof” led to “purpose discovery”

I first encountered the word “social proof” a couple of years ago when I took Dorie Clark’s Recognized Expert course. I was neither recognized nor an expert so I was the perfect student. Except I had no idea what I was going to learn from the class. But I had subscribed to Dorie’s weekly emails […]

I first encountered the word “social proof” a couple of years ago when I took Dorie Clark’s Recognized Expert course. I was neither recognized nor an expert so I was the perfect student. Except I had no idea what I was going to learn from the class. But I had subscribed to Dorie’s weekly emails for some time and was always impacted by the empathetic tone and the sound advice she expressed. So I jumped in with both feet when she had an opening.

As it sometimes happens in life, when you have no expectations the results can astound you. And it astounded me. But more on that some other time.

I want to hone in on the term “social proof” that she referred in her very first class. Huh? I had no idea what that meant. I do today. Put simply – what does a Google search of your name turn up?

Sound simple right? Go ahead. For many of us (including me at that time), the results can be very ego bursting. Here I am telling the world what a high-impact thought leader and evangelist I was and Google did not land me on the first page. Or the second. Or the third… #Boom

But there was a message behind that got to me. I had been doing a little bit of dull technical writing and speaking on behalf of my employers and that showed up in pages 6 and 7 (if memory serves me right). That was my “social proof”. I felt like pulling my hair out (believe me I had some then) because that wasn’t what I wanted to be known for.

But what did I want to be part of? What was my “why”? Before getting to “social proof”, I had to find my “purpose”? Then I could measure whether I was doing enough to live up to my purpose. In a way that impacted the world. And Google would index the impact level.

That started a frantic search, the kind of which I had never done in my life. Karaoke fusion. Undercoverleaders.org to chronicle the lives of everyday people impacting the world. #iPoP – In pursuit of purpose to help middle aged folks in a rut. Senior citizen desi (colloquial for Indian) transportation. Many experiments, many failures. And then ….

I struck gold. The purpose had been discovered.

My purpose, in a nutshell, is to be an accelerator of tech and positivity. How?

  • Using everyday analogies to chronicle complex technical subjects.
  • Evangelization about tech and ethics to empower the consumer and educate the vendors.
  • Podcasting with cybersecurity experts to bridge the gap between the builders and the buyers.
  • Amplification of normal people demonstrating acts of courage and leadership that go unnoticed.
  • Giving back more than I will ever take

Now the calibration against Google search is underway. Not everything needs to have social proof or should for that matter. But given our finite lifetime, in this highly digitized ecosystem, for a few life goals where you are trying to challenge status quo you need outsized social proof. And a few of the above I have chalked to attain terminal velocity in my lifetime.

That’s the journey so far. How a seemingly ego gratifying phrase – social proof – caused me to dig deep, encounter hollowness and start the gut wrenching exploration still blows my mind.

Mind if I Google you?

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