The Humanity of Networking

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By Mark A. Leon

In the spring of 2015, I was asked to represent my company as a speaker in San Francisco for Hirepalooza.  It was an honor to be asked to represent my company’s brand and image, but who would say no to speaking at a conference call Hirepalooza?

The few days I spent there speaking, listening and most importantly engaging, reminded me of the essence of recruitment.  From the resumes stored in file cabinets to Chrome Extensions allowing you to track down any human being, one element has remained over the years, the human relationship.

I went out there thinking everyone wanted to work for a start-up, work 100 hours a week for three to five years and then drive off into the sunset with their Tesla and big bag of money.  It turns out my stereotype was shattered.  What I did find were many intelligent young students and professionals that are struggling with the same concerns we all have about careers and the future.

During the conclusion of day one, I was sitting with two academic students during the post seminar networking event and I asked them both, “What Makes You Great”.  They both laughed and shrugged their heads.  Neither had an answer.  I continued saying that we are all filled with greatness.  It is a pool of passion, courage, risk and determination.  It is the combination of those energy sources that takes your from mediocrity to greatness.  Once you find your own personal inner greatness, you can’t ever not succeed in life.

I continued for several more conversations with these students even after I returned to the East Coast providing some level of counseling and advice.

This past Friday, I spoke with David, a UC Berkeley junior I also engaged with during this event.   This most recent conversation was a result of an email he sent me earlier expressing how discouraged he was with networking and the lack of connection.  Before I even said hello, I told David he was far too young to be this cynical and that life will get more and more challenging with the shift toward digital connections and away from human relationships.

This led into an hour and twenty minute candid discussion of which the entire time I was reminded of what an important connection I had made.

David is at least twenty years my junior, but I can learn as much from him about life than anyone else in my inner circle.  He is wise beyond his years and sees the world from a new digital perspective.  He was raised on the mobile phone, apps, computers and gaming.  I think Wiffle Ball, tag and running bases are foreign terms to him.

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He sees the present from an immediacy perspective.  I see it from a watch the sunset and lay under the stars ideology.  He sees responsiveness as immediate based on sound bite approaches.  I see calculated responses based on research and understanding.

Still, we talked and talked and talked.  At the end of the conversation, he had to go pack for a trip to Oregon where he and some friends were going to be in the great outdoors without wifi for a few days.  It was a fitting reminder of what a life can be when you connect to all the elements.

I live in a world with 8000 LinkedIN connections, 2800 Facebook Friends, 12,000 Twitter Followers, 16,900 Instagram Followers, 2700 Pinterest Followers and 5 close friends.  I’m sure that sounds familiar to many.

I still believe in a common truth that human connection will always be the key to personal happiness.  I believed that when I chased my brother around the block on my bike when I was 10 years old and I believe that today.

David is that living breathing evidence of a connection I made in 2015 that remains strong today.   He sought me out for advice on careers and I learned a little about life.

At the end of the day, a tiny piece of electronics will make our lives easier, but human emotion will make it fulfilled.

 

My Endless Love – Original Poem

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By Mark A. Leon

Rock a bye baby

Rock a bye off to sleep you go

My beautiful wreck

Brushing my fingers through your hair, it is all so familiar as the nightmares rage on

Your demons chase you to the edge of sanity straight into the glass

Shattered with perfect edges, they cut through my soul

Under the light of a rainbow and cleansed by the rain you swam deep into the great unknown waters of life

Led by confused clarity, you sought escape

As your body disappeared toward the end of that rainbow, I felt you closer than ever before

High atop the balcony I stood gazing away as the world disappeared leaving a painting of the ocean and your silhouette

Tomorrow you will wake and we will create the dream for one more day

Stay tonight for tomorrow you are gone

Far away under the same sky we will dream together

It is a surreal novelette we have written

From the simple gestures to the mountainous climbs

It is a story that began in the roaring 20’s and will last throughout time

Rock a bye baby

Rest your weary eyes

As you drift away into another place, remember you are my endless love

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Words – Original Poem

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By Mark A. Leon

Letter writing is an art form

As ancient as the words of Socrates and intimate as the moment Eden’s apple rendered its power on the end of humanity

The words flowing from the heart of the pen
A declaration of yearning unleashing vulnerability

Words can destroy civilizations; find love in darkness; hope in tragedy
Words have the power to heal
They inform the ignorant of tolerance
Bless the weak and indulge our senses

I can smell your feelings with each new letter I receive
They are reminders of what we share
Helping me breathe as we are slowly suffocating from the toxins

In is true simplicity, words open the gates of imagination; a flood of wonder

They take us to the infinite depths of space
The deepest waters of the ocean
The highest mountain tops of the world

As I write, I smile at the evolution of thought
It is a beautiful rainbow inside my mind

Now, I let go of my words
I give them to you to hold, cherish and value

The Love We Almost Had – Original Poem

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By Mark A. Leon

Remembering the best thing that never happened
Remembering fondly, the sweet sadness of an almost intimate coupling played out in the lyrics of a song of yesteryear

It was an affair of the heart in a time when we let ourselves be vulnerable to the pain of love

Like the final act of Flaubert, we look back and smile

Two star crossed lovers with a backstory unrealized
Like the pages of a great novel, we will always have our story.  Filled with pages of romantic and the complexity of crossroads

You, the sexy vixen I desired
Me, the troubled teen with dreams of an ideology lost in the tornado of life

On the steps of our childhood, we toast the decisions made and unmade

I still love you every day
With every other breath, a thought of you

It is comforting this world we never shared

There is something special about the anticipation, still strong after all these years
The chill of the unknown

Like words unwritten on the perfect sheet of paper
Untainted.

We lived the perfect relationship without the risk of an end

As we look into our glasses and see the reflection of an abyss, it is all so clear
To my love, my muse, my hope, my fear, remember us

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