#popHR Review of @talentanarchy's "Social Gravity"

by Matthew Stollak on Friday, February 3, 2012

In "Social Gravity: Harnessing the Natural Laws of Relationships," the wizards behind Talent Anarchy, Joe Gerstandt and Jason Lauritsen bring their immense knowledge to their first book.   Riffing off Sir Isaac Newton, our authors note that social gravity carries the same pull.  What is social gravity, per se?    Simply put, it is the power of relationships in your life.

The old adage, "It's not what you know, it's who you know" is given a new sheen by Joe and Jason.  One builds relationships through social capital: information about a job opening, opinions on finding a new dentist, expertise on a particular problem, access to unique resources.  But, social capital means more when looked through the prism of the network which develops and the power and influence one may be able to wield within that network. 

With technological advances, our network and connections have changed dramatically.   A long time determinant of friendship, for example, might be simple proximity.  Your best friend may have been on the same floor with you your freshman year of college.  With social tools like Twitter, social media has broken through many of the traditional barriers that might have limited a global network.

From there, the authors state their 6 Laws of Social Gravity that help the reader to begin harnessing their own social gravity.  Through end-of-chapter thought exercises as well as apropos personal anecdotes highlighting the particular law under investigation, Joe and Jason provide helpful guidance in building better relationships with others without it feeling like yet another self-help book that is easily digested but feels like empty calories.

The one area I would have loved to see the authors explore in more detail is in the area of cross-cultural differences.  Are the 6 Laws uniquely American, or do they have a more universal application?  In China, for example, the term guanxi refers to the benefits gained from social connections.  Does guanxi apply the same way with social gravity?  Perhaps we'll see it in the expanded 2nd edition or the sequel.

I can see "Social Gravity" being used in an undergraduate seminar in communications, sociology, or business class as a companion piece to Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point."  Yet, even the most seasoned of social media experts can glean some new piece of information from this welcomed tome.  Highly recommended!

If you are going to be in Austin, TX on February 26-28 at the Transform HR conference, you can see the authors present their thoughts on social gravity (and other relevant items) in person. Check them out.

One comment

Thank you kindly for reading the book and putting your review out Matt. Greatly appreciated. We have not done much to promote the book yet, so it is very cool to see some folks finding it. I believe that the six laws do transcend culture, though how to best apply them would depend on the context. I think that there is actually a fair amount of overlap between the laws and guanxi. I would suggest that the core tenets or principles of guanxi are universally applicable, but applying them in East would take a different shape than applying them in the West. Good question though, thanks again for checking out the book.

by joe gerstandt on February 7, 2012 at 5:31 AM. #

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