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The Connector’s Advantage by Michelle Tillis Lederman

What brought you to this career path? I’m a recovering CPA. Growing up without financial security, I chose a path that I thought would bring me that. I ended up spending 10 years in finance. However, although it did bring me financial security, it didn’t bring me a sense of fulfillment and connection.  In 2001, […]

What brought you to this career path?

I’m a recovering CPA. Growing up without financial security, I chose a path that I thought would bring me that. I ended up spending 10 years in finance. However, although it did bring me financial security, it didn’t bring me a sense of fulfillment and connection. 

In 2001, I was working at Deloitte consulting and not loving it. I spoke up and said that I didn’t want to do client work anymore, that I wanted to work in corporate social responsibility. However, what I didn’t know was that there had been three rounds of layoffs already, and one of the positions laid off was the CSR position. I ended up in the next series of layoffs.

So, I called a friend, and I said “Guess what? I got laid off.” And he said, “Come work here.”

Within a week, I started at a new bank, and was the only woman on the trading floor. I was managing special projects, hedge fund investments and risk management. My boss became the CEO of the Tokyo branch. To help his transition, I hired a coach, and I did everything she did and then some. 

By the end of the week, I realized that is what I was meant to do. So, I told the CEO, “I can do that.” He said, “Okay, but you still have to do all this.” And I said “Okay!”

When you believe in yourself and are willing to speak up and say ‘that’s what I want,’ then things happen. Even with the experience at Deloitte. Although I spoke up and got laid off, it’s not really a bad thing. It kicked me in the butt to find something that fits better.

Can you tell us a little bit about your most recent book The Connector’s Advantage?

The first book I wrote is called The 11 Laws of Likability, and as the title suggests, it highlights the rules of relationships and how to enable people to see what is likable about you. The recent book The Connector’s Advantageis a follow up to that book.

The Connector’s Advantageis a how-to guide and identifies seven levels of Connectors and seven mindsets of a Connector. The book highlights exactly how to shift your approach to prioritize relationships in all your interactions. 

What level Connector are you on the spectrum? Are you an Emerging Connector? Do you embody some of the behaviors, but have not mastered all the elements yet? Or are you a Global Super connector? Do you have a network so broad that it is beyond your country’s borders?

How can your book change the world?

Someone once asked me what the difference is between networking and a Connector. And I said, “Networking is something that you do, but a Connector is who you are.” I genuinely believe in the importance of infusing the concepts of likability and connection in all aspects of your life. When you expand and diversify, you create bridges, you build understanding, and you develop a sense of ‘we.’ We learn that we are all connected and related in some way. 

What are the five things you wish you knew?

1.    Learn how to relax.My son is 13 years old, and he is a mini-me. He is a straight A student, really conscientious, and very hard on himself. I am the same way, and I never knew that I needed to learn how to relax. I didn’t know that was something to learn. And it is something I always try to instill in my son. Let things go, it’s not the end of the world.

2.    Good enough is good enough. As a working mom, this really resonates with me. Women tend to strive for perfection, and we are really harsh critics of ourselves. I often have to check with myself and ask “Is spending more time on this going to have a significant difference in the outcome?” Ultimately, good enough is good enough. 

3.    There is no such thing as balance, but there is such a thing as fit. I got realistic about what working and raising kids looks like and that was freeing.

4.    Listen to your business and follow the revenue. This was a very interesting comment someone shared with me early on in my career. He said that sometimes you don’t know where your business will take you, but you have to follow it, and the revenue will guide you there. 

5.    No is not a four letter word. My husband took one of those 3M sticky notes and wrote the word ‘NO’ on it and stuck it to my monitor. It lasted a year and remind me to say no. Saying no is actually saying yes to something else. This is actually one of the concepts I teach in my book. Connectors do what they say they will do, they follow up, they follow through, and sometimes, they say yes until they are stretched too thin. So ‘No’ needs to be in your regular vocabulary.

What do you believe in?

There is always good, so find the good in every situation. And watch your words. The language you choose to use is the path for how you think. 

If you find yourself saying the word ‘should,’ maybe you really shouldn’t do it because you do not really want to.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

·     You can follow me here

·     To get a copy of The Connector’s Advantage, you can BOGO (Buy One, Gift One)  here.

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