Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Connecting the Dots from others’ Experiences


One of the things I love about EO is that during forum meetings, we use something called Gestalt language protocol.   Without going into the detail, the basics of how we use it is to refrain from giving advice. Instead we speak from experience.   The idea is that by giving advice you are putting the other person in a tough spot… if they choose not to take your advice, then they are perhaps saying to you they didn’t want it or need it, and if they do, then you are put in the awkward position of being responsible for the outcome.   (Please forgive my poor explanation, but I just needed a quick one.)

For me personally I LOVE Gestalt!  I LOVE hearing about others’ experiences.  It’s not hard for me to hear how someone attacked an issue, or dealt with a challenge and to apply that to myself. I have a personal knack for “connecting the dots” and seeing how it applies to me.  If you ever have a meeting with me, you’ll probably notice that I’m an obsessive note-taker. I’m always writing down “to do’s” and “action items” for myself… but you’ll probably notice that nobody is sitting there spoon feeding me action items. (Besides, if they did, I wouldn’t do it anyway… I tend to rebel when someone tells me I have to do something. hehe.)

Many times when I’m working with start-ups or college students looking to create companies, I don’t have a feeling that they are connecting the dots when they hear about mine or others’ experiences. They are all too often waiting for me to tell them what to do so they have a step-by-step process for how to proceed.   Let me just tell you right now, I don’t begin to have the ego to think I can tell anybody what to do! I have no idea what you should do… but I can tell you my own experiences, and I really hope that you can show me that you are connecting the dots to create your own plan of action and not just of the mindset that you are “listening to these stories from the crazy dude.”

Have you found any of this to be true for yourself? Are you able to connect the dots from other people’s stories… or am I a weirdo?


Category: Action
  • Noel Coleman says:

    You are a weirdo. There, now we can move on.

    But more importantly, you’ve pointed out something that too many of us fall into. Laziness. Expecting others to do our work for us. If I’m a line worker in a factory, you can tell me what to do. If I’m working in an office as part of a team trying to grow a company, my job in large part is to think. Problem solving is part of most of our jobs and responsibilities. Heck, even as a parent it is our job to solve the unique situations and needs our families face in order to develop great families. But I see so many people sitting around waiting for someone to tell them exactly what to do and how to solve problems. And it is nothing but good old fashioned laziness.

    August 2, 2012 at 1:56 pm
    • Johnson Cook says:

      Well why wouldn’t we expect it!? Our TVs show us the shows we want to see when we want to see it. Our iPads do everything we want, when we want it to do it. Why wouldn’t people be On-Demand-Perfect-Advice-Givers like we want.

      So there are two sides here — one is the receiving of advice and the other is giving of the advice.

      On receiving the advice, my personal goal is to take the unsolicited opinions and filter through them to get to the experiences that make them up. If you find that there aren’t any experiences backing up that advice, then unfortunately, the advice giver may go down a notch or two in the credibility category.

      On the giving of advice… well, my goal is this: TO NOT TO. I only try to speak from my own experiences. Or at least when I do have a strong opinion, frame it correctly and share the background of it before I blurt out a “what you oughta do!”

      Both of these require effort and work, Noel and you are right… it’s far easier to take the lazy route.

      August 6, 2012 at 4:37 pm

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