Billy Connolly is perhaps my favorite comedian. I’ve been watching him for decades and I simply adore the man. I think he’s wonderful. In one of his sets from about 20 years ago, he referred to himself as an old broken radio, always on broadcast, never on receive. That analogy resonated with me because it reflects a pattern that we can fall into ourselves. We can get caught up in constantly outputting without taking the time to listen or seek input. And that’s what I want to discuss today.
We often find ourselves in a cycle of constantly thinking about the next thing we need to write or the next hot take we want to share. Now, I recently talked about using our taste to create new content. Of course, we still need to produce and share our thoughts and opinions. However, it’s equally important to not only seek attention but also be open to receiving it.
Imagine the trope of the zombie apocalypse where someone finds an old, battered radio that barely seems to work. Now, picture that person constantly yelling into the radio, desperately seeking help and connection. They never think to stop talking and listen for incoming messages.
Unfortunately, this is a pattern we often fall into. It’s something we can control and do, and I’m all for taking action and being productive. However, listening might not always feel productive, even though it truly is. In the scenario I mentioned, when we ask for help, we’re also asking people to do something. We may have value to offer, but we also need to be receptive to others who have something to offer in return. If we’re constantly broadcasting, we can’t receive.
When we do receive a message from someone saying, “Hello, I’m over here, I have this and you need it,” that’s an opportunity to connect and collaborate. Creating these connections is the essence of this discussion. The more individual connections we make, the more we can scale our impact. It may seem contradictory, but engaging in one-on-one conversations with people can have a significant impact. These conversations can be public, allowing others to witness them, but they also establish a personal connection that can make others more invested in our work. When someone has experienced even a glimpse of what it’s like to work with us, they are more likely to support and share what we do. It’s not entirely selfless, but it’s far from selfish. It holds tremendous value.
So, the next time you “pick up your radio,” whether it’s through Twitter, Medium, LinkedIn, YouTube, or any platform you use, think about how you can inform people about your latest creation, whether it’s a song, a standup set, an illustrated children’s book, or anything else. But don’t just turn off the radio. Or if you do, turn it back on later and keep it on receive. Take the time to explore and listen to what others have to say.
One effective platform for this is LinkedIn. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “LinkedIn person,” you can find like-minded individuals with whom you resonate. Engage in conversations by responding to their posts and interacting with others who respond as well. Simply being present and adding value to the conversation is enough. You’re welcome to join and contribute. Social media allows us to jump in and share our thoughts and insights. It doesn’t always have to be about disagreeing with someone; it’s about adding to the conversation. It costs nothing and can make a significant impact, especially considering how algorithms work, particularly on LinkedIn. When someone interacts with your comment, whether they like it or reply to it, LinkedIn will show them more of your content. It’s that simple. So, while there may be some self-interest involved, as long as you genuinely contribute with fun, interesting, valuable, insightful, or whimsical content, you will build meaningful relationships.
After tapping the mic and sending your message, keep the headphones on and listen for incoming messages. Keep exploring and seeking new voices on your metaphorical old broken radio. Make sure you can hear the messages from others who may have food and shelter to offer, ready to swap resources with you.