In this episode, Josh talks with Michelle Tillis Lederman, author of “The Connector’s Advantage: 7 Mindsets to Grow Your Influence and Impact”. They discuss what connectors are and the traits often associated with them.

Michelle Tillis Lederman, one of Forbes Top 25 Networking Experts, is the author of four books including the internationally known, The 11 Laws of Likability, and the #1 new release The Connectors Advantage. Michelle is a connection creator and CEO of Executive Essentials, which provides customized communications and leadership programs for fortune 500, non-profit, university and government clients.

A former finance executive and NYU Professor, Michelle is a regular in the media appearing on NBC, CBS, Fox, NPR, the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, CNBC, and others. Michelle is known for helping people work better together and advance their individual impact.

In today’s episode you will learn:

  • What is The Connector and why should you care?
  • Can an introvert person be connector?
  • What makes connectors different and unusual and interesting as compared to other people?
  • How to develop an abundance mindset?
  • What’s the role of trust?


Narrator:          Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.

Josh:                  Hey, how are you today this is Josh Patrick and here at The Sustainable Business podcast. My guest today is Michelle Tillis Lederman. Michelle has a gazillion different thing she’s done that’s been really interesting. She’s recently written a book she calls The Connector’s Advantage. And today we’re going to talk with Michelle about one of my favorite topics. I try to coach people to find connectors in their life, and take advantage of them because they love to introduce.

So let’s bring Michelle on and we’ll start the conversation. Hey, Michelle, how are you today?

Michelle:           I’m doing great.

Josh:                  So tell me, what is The Connector first of all and why should I care?

Michelle:           Those are probably the two most important questions to ask. A connector is very simple. It’s somebody who was relationship-focused and relationship-driven in their approach to people, to business, to life. So they prioritize relationships. And why they care is because, well, that’s really the crux of the book. The advantage is faster, easier, better, whatever it is you’re working on, whether it’s getting a job, getting a promotion, getting a sale, growing a business, being happier, being healthier, all of those things. There’s research to show that being connected makes those things happen faster, easier and better.

Josh:                  I would agree 100% with that. So let me get that question all the way because I am going to bet all my introverts who are listening right now are all saying, “I’m an introvert. No way, am I connector.”

Michelle:           Not true.

Josh:                  Why is that not true? By the way, I’m going to add something in a minute but why is that not true?

Michelle:           First of all, I will tell you some of the best connectors I know are introverts. And I talked about many of them in the book. And actually a lot of them contributed to the book. Matthew Pollard has a podcast called The Introvert’s Edge, because I do think that introverts have an edge when it comes to connecting, because they have some natural skills that lend themselves really well to the one on one. That’s really their comfort zone. They prefer the one on one where real connection happens, not in the big groups in the life of the party.

So that plus their natural ability to listen, they are skilled and natural listeners. So they’re processing information, they take it in. They can ask good prerogative questions, and really start to learn about somebody. And the third thing that I think is also part of their advantage is that they’re not off putting. And what I mean by that is sometimes those bigger personalities might be one of them, if you’ve already kind of found out. We might come on a little strong, we might be too much for some people and be off putting and make people actually uncomfortable, rather than our intent, which is typically to try to really make people comfortable. Introverts can put people at ease.

Josh:                  So I’m an extreme introvert, and I’m off putting, I rarely put people at ease.

Michelle:           I don’t believe that.

Josh:                  I tend to be a bit on the confrontational side. But I am an extreme connector. I mean, I introduce people to other people all the time.

Michelle:           So tell me why you think it’s a skill for you. Because I bet you’re going to say some of the things that came up in the research, and I’m going to flip the interview around on you, what are the things that make you a great connector?

Josh:                  I am more than willing effect, I volunteer to introduce people who I think and have value from each other on a regular basis.

Michelle:           You get pleasure from that?

Josh:                  A bit of pleasure, [inaudible 00:03:59] outrageous amount of pleasure. But yeah, I get pleasure from it. I don’t get unpleasure from it. I get this pleasure from it.

Michelle:           Like personal satisfaction of making a good connection.

Josh:                  Yeah, if it works, I get some personal satisfaction. Most of the time that I make a connection— this is something that when you receive something from a connector, I believe is lost a lot, the people I connect rarely get back with me and tell me what’s happened. So I really don’t know if the connection worked or didn’t work. And I’ve got too many other things— my plate to sit there and follow through on it. I obviously couldn’t follow through if I wanted to. But once I make the connection, I kind of leave it to two people who are connected to take it from there. And if they do great if they don’t, that’s okay, too.

Michelle:           That’s one of the things I actually talked about in the book. One of the mindsets that we talked about is that connectors are conscientious. They do what they say they’re going to do, they follow up, and they follow through. And the way in which a connector will accept a connection closes that loop. And so I would say people are out there listening saying, “I want to level up, I want to be a little bit of more of a connector.” One of the things that you could do is think about the times that you’ve been a beneficiary of an introduction, and going back and letting them know what happened, because it reinforces the connection with the person who made the introduction, but also reconnects you and reaffirms that relationship with the person that you were introduced to. Because now you have more points of connection and the more points of connection, the more channels we can add on, the more connected we stay.

Josh:                  I would say that’s absolutely true. So let’s take a step back here for a second because you and I are talking as if everybody listening to this podcast episode understands what a connector is. And I’m going to bet there are very few people who actually understand what the connector is. Let’s go back to basic definition, what is a connector?

Michelle:           So one of the things that I did before writing the book was I did some research. And I had a theory about what were the attributes behaviors of a connector that made them get this advantage and seemed like they have all the luck. What was interesting was that there wasn’t a huge differentiation, some of the factors between a non connector and a connector. But one of the things that were differentiating was that personal satisfaction that a connector gets from making that connection that we just talked about. So what we found is a connector, its levels, it’s a spectrum. And I think it’s important to think of it that way, you’re not either yes or no, you’re somewhere along the spectrum from a non connector to a global super connector, and understanding where you fall.

And you gave one of the levers that we can pull to level up and that is that you initiate. When you start to initiate reach out, when you start to initiate adding value, you are probably an acting connector. You are putting the mindsets and the behaviors into action on a regular basis. If you’re not quite there, you might be either emerging or responsive. Meaning that you will, if somebody asks you to connect, if somebody asks you for a favor, you’ll respond to it. But you might not be the one initiating it.

The other lever is the breadth and depth of your connections. And this is really where the connector advantage comes from. It’s because you know a lot of people that’s how Malcolm Gladwell defined it, somebody who collects friends. And I just take it a little bit further, because I think it’s more than that. It’s the way in which they connect to those friends. And they connect how to add value to those friends, and infuse these mindsets. And so when we have depth of connections, it could be in a geographic region, it could be an industry. It could be in a job function. That person knows everyone in blank, that’s a niche connector.

If you then have a breath, meaning you are crossing geographic lines, you’re crossing industries, you’re crossing function, hierarchy, all of those things that differentiate us, then you become a super connector.

Josh:                  I know a couple of super connectors in my life. And I go around, and I say so these people— and the interesting thing is about the super connectors I know, they’re not especially successful in their careers or their businesses, but they are great connectors. They know literally everybody everywhere. And if I need to know somebody, I just go and talk and say, “Can you give me an introduction?” And they’re great at giving introductions, but not especially great at running their businesses, which is kind of interesting, but that someday I’ll actually put some real thought behind that.

Michelle:           Well, we actually did put a little thought behind that. And one of the mindsets that we thought was critical to actually getting the connectors advantage was having a clear mindset. And what comes to my mind as you share that with me is that when you have a clear mindset, you know what you want, and you’re willing to ask for it.

Josh:                  Okay.

Michelle:           And so possibly the people who are getting that personal satisfaction, who are able to make those connections, and they’re out there being a connector, they might not be able to understand what they need, what they’re working on, and be willing to ask for that help. Sometimes they think that everybody thinks like them, and we’ll just offer it.

Josh:                  Yeah, I think that’s true. I think that connectors, I mean, super connectors believe that the whole world is made up of super connectors. And they’re constantly disappointed that they’re not being brought opportunities that they’re giving to other people.

Michelle:           I actually had that happen. I was giving a talk years ago, and I was talking about my first book, The 11 Laws of Likability is talking about the law of giving. And I had somebody in the front row, just yell, “I’m tired of giving. Where’s mine?”

Josh:                  It’s a good question by the way.

Michelle:           It was a good question. It was a little stunning in the middle of my speech, but it was a good question. And so I’m sitting here thinking like, “Well, did she give him the wrong people? No, that’s not it. Is she giving the wrong things? No, that’s not it.” And I turned to her, I said, “So tell me what you’ve asked for.” And she looked at me and she said, “Nothing.” I said, “Ah, now we figured out the issue.”

Josh:                  Right?

Michelle:           Because a lot of people, especially those emerging are responsive connectors, they don’t recognize their own value. They don’t recognize how they might be able to offer assistance. They can’t read your mind to know who you might want to know. And without giving them information, giving them opportunity and asking, they can’t give you what you need. And so that’s a really critical piece in the puzzle.

Josh:                  This is an important piece I think and connectors— talking about connectors and talking about referrals. I kind of consider kissing cousins in many respects, in that connectors are going to give you great referrals, but often connectors are not very good at asking for those great referrals back because they think it’s a natural thing that people— I’m going to use this word I wish it would be eliminated for the English language now “should” reciprocate. And they don’t.

Michelle:           I love that he said the word “should” I have a whole piece on get to [inaudible 00:10:34] to should do and have to.

Josh:                  Yes.

Michelle:           And if you say should, you shouldn’t.

Josh:                  [Laughs] Well, should is one of three words, I want to eliminate from the English language.

Michelle:           Yeah, my husband actually calls me out on it because he actually read my book. And he’s like, “You just said should.” I was like, “Oh, man!”

Josh:                  We can all do it.

Michelle:           We cannot reframe whatever it is we think we should do into a get to or want to, or even a have to.

Josh:                  Or don’t want to, you could take your “should” and say, “I really don’t want to do this after all and throw it away.”

Michelle:           There you go. And that’s why I say you either have to reframe it, or delete it.

Josh:                  Yes.

Michelle:           So coming back to the idea of reciprocity.

Josh:                  Yes.

Michelle:           One of the mindsets of a connector is to have a generous spirit. And to have a generous spirit isn’t about reciprocity isn’t about quid pro quo—

Josh:                  Right.

Michelle:           But when you have a generous spirit, and you are naturally normally giving, it gives you ability and permission in your own mind to ask.

Josh:                  Yes.

Michelle:           Here’s the thing you have to ask, if you don’t ask the answer is “No.” Period.

Josh:                  Right, I think that’s really good advice. So if anyone’s listening that you say, “Gee, I’m a connector, and I’m not getting what I want.” My guess is you’re not asking.

Michelle:           That is exactly what I would say. And one of the things I do in the book for people because asking is hard, and I’m a connector. And yet I have the time forget, “Oh, yeah, I could ask for help.” And even though I teach that you have to ask, I often forget that I can. And I have to remind myself make it a practice of asking. And I tell people two things. Always ask the question, what do you need? What are you working on? Or how can I help something along those lines?

Josh:                  Yup.

Michelle:           And number two is always have an answer to that question. It doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be everything. It could just be one little thing that you’re working on right now.

Josh:                  Okay. So what is the one thing you’re working on right now?

Michelle:           [Laughs] For those who are not watching on Facebook Live, I’m holding up my new book The Connector’s Advantage.

Josh:                  Yes. So the book is it. Are you in a book tour right now?

Michelle:           I have been doing a lot. I have been traveling a little bit DC, Florida. And I’ll be in Pennsylvania in a few weeks, and doing a lot of podcasts, radios all that good stuff.

Josh:                  Okay, cool. Well, I found when I wrote my book that I love writing my book, I hated marketing it.

Michelle:           I’m so with you. I’m totally with you.

Josh:                  It was just way too much work.

Michelle:           If you don’t know, Josh’s book I’m holding his up now, too.

Josh:                  That’s my [inaudible 00:12:56].

Michelle:           I love the illustration.

Josh:                  Yeah. Well, that’s actually a topic of discussion in our house a lot. So you have seven different types of connectors. And you have seven mindsets of the connectors, what’s more important to know about the mindset or what types they are?

Michelle:           I think the mindsets.

Josh:                  Yeah, I would kind of agree with that. So let’s go through that. What makes connectors different and unusual and interesting as compared to other folks?

Michelle:           I think what makes somebody interesting or unusual is unique to the person.

Josh:                  Okay.

Michelle:           We can’t make a blanket statement about all connectors are blank.

Josh:                  Yes.

Michelle:           But let’s list off. And we’ve already touched on a couple of mindsets. But let’s just kind of give them the overview of the top seven, or the only seven that I talked about. Connectors are open and accepting. They have a clear vision, which we talked about.

Josh:                  Yeah.

Michelle:           They believe in abundance.

Josh:                  Yeah.

Michelle:           They trust. They are social and curious, conscientious and they have a generous spirit. And what’s important to think about when we think and I did write them in a particular order, because I thought that they built on each other but they’re not linear. And I think what they do is actually enable each other. I think it’s very difficult to have a generous spirit when you don’t come from a place of abundance, as well as it’s difficult to trust. And conscientiousness enables trust and abundance. So they really all intertwined.

Josh:                  Yes. So let’s talk about abundance and trust for a second because in my opinion, I think that’s— especially in the business world, we tend to have this lack of abundance mindset that runs through the business world. So how do you develop an abundance mindset?

Michelle:           So the first thing is understanding what we mean by abundance. And it really is the opposite of a scarce mindset. So scarce mindset tends to be very defensive in nature, very protective, believes that things are going to stay the way that they are.

Josh:                  They’re not trusting at all, by the way.

Michelle:           Yeah, you know—

Josh:                  In my experience.

Michelle:           I can see that. But I can also see that it’s just coming from a place of fear.

Josh:                  That’s also true, I think that’s where lack of trust comes from is often a place of fear in a place of not allowing others to make mistakes.

Michelle:           And a lot of times a scarce mindset is not even about the other person. It’s really about the individual who’s feeling the scarcity. And I grew up with scarcity. I understand scarcity. I chose my original career because of financial scarcity in growing up. I think I shared with you I’m a recovering CPA, and I spent 10 years in finance, and I wanted that corner office and that power job because I wanted financial security. Scarcity drives a lot of our decision making.

Josh:                  Yes.

Michelle:           It’s also experience in evidence. So I was in finance in the early 90s, at a time when there was one female partner in the firm I was in, and there was a lot of scarce thinking around women elevating within the field. And it made sense so if we say, “Okay, we understand where scarcity comes from, how do we shift this place of abundance.” And the idea is not to say everything’s wonderful, because that’s not realistic. But the idea is to say, “I believe that things don’t have to be the way they are, I believe in the possibility of having more than one female partner in the firm. I believe there are enough clients that I don’t have to be jealous or steal other people’s clients, or be afraid to talk about mine.” So it’s believing in the possibility that there’s enough, believing the possibility that there is better than what there is, and not comparing yourself in relation to other people. And I think that’s one of the hardest things, we tend to get scarce because they have and I don’t.

Josh:                  It makes sense.

Michelle:           And so if we can say, here’s what I have, and here’s what I bring, and here’s where I feel value. I don’t have to worry about the rest, because I can just be comparing against myself.

Josh:                  Right.

Michelle:           And what I bring and I think that really helps.

Josh:                  Okay, so let’s talk about trust for a minute, connector’s trust.

Michelle:           Yes.

Josh:                  So what do connectors trust about?

Michelle:           I think trust is actually situational. I’m doing great exercise when I’m doing training programs, and I actually have groups of people talk about how do you define the word trust? And I’ve never gotten the same definition twice.

Josh:                  I actually have an icebreaker game that guarantees you would never get the same answer, but that’s— [Laughs]

Michelle:           You’ll have to tell me that. I might borrow it. And see that’s an abundant mindset, that your willingness to share that with me would be an example of abundant mindset.

Josh:                  Yes.

Michelle:           The idea of trust is, as I said, situational, and it’s also like, for example, you might trust a friend to tell you not to wear certain outfit. But you wouldn’t trust her to give career advice.

Josh:                  Yes.

Michelle:           Or I trust my dog to protect me or tell me if somebody is in the house because she’ll bark like crazy, but I don’t trust her if I leave my sandwich alone and unattended.

Josh:                  Right, as you shouldn’t with dogs.

Michelle:           Right, as a fellow dog lover, you get that. So we understand that trust is not something that necessarily is given freely, I do think we need to be thoughtful about trust. But I think we need to understand that trust needs to be given to be received.

Josh:                  Yes. Have you ever read the book, The Trusted Advisor by Charles Green?

Michelle:           I know of it, I have not read it into and no.

Josh:                  In there— I mean, the book is basically comes down to say public trust formula, which he and his co-author came up with, which is confidence, plus consistency, plus intimacy, which means how much you care about somebody divided by self interest, will tell you how much you’re going to trust somebody else in a particular situation. Like when you gave your example of your friend who you would trust about fashion advice, but not career advice, you were speaking to competence at that point. So yes, she is more than competent to give you fashion advice. But she’s not competent, to give you advice about career. And even though she might do what she says she’s going to do because she really cares about you as a person. It’s not the person that you’re going to trust for that sort of advice. And it’s been one of these rule of thumb things, but I’m finding a trust problem with somebody is usually one of those four things that seem to get in the way.

Michelle:           Hmm, interesting. I have a different four factors, but a little overlapping.

Josh:                  Yes.

Michelle:           So I talked about the four pillars of trust—

Josh:                  Okay.

Michelle:           And what enables trust to form between two people, because I don’t believe trust can be one sided.

Josh:                  I would agree with that.

Michelle:           So authenticity, you can’t trust somebody who isn’t being real. Vulnerability, which I think in this case, it was that intimacy.

Josh:                  Yes.

Michelle:           And I talked about vulnerability of being willing to self disclose and to share and be vulnerable. The third is transparency. So giving of information or the fact of why you can’t give information, just keeping people informed is critical. And I’m thinking of this a little bit more from a business angle.

Josh:                  Sure.

Michelle:           And the fourth is consistency. So there is some overlap with that.

Josh:                  Yep. There’s a lot of overlap with that. I mean, it’s essentially you’ve covered everything that they cover in a trusted advisor, except for self interest.

Michelle:           Yeah.

Josh:                  I had noticed that when I start talking about what my services cost trust goes way down, which is one of the reasons I try to work with people on a retainer basis, not on a project or an hourly basis, because then we only have the pricing conversation once. After that we’re done with it so then self interest goes out the window. And if you’re listening, and you are wondering, you keep talking about price, price, price price that might be a good reason why some of your clients don’t trust you as much as they might.

Michelle:           Interesting. And maybe it is a connector’s mindset that didn’t bring in self interest from it.

Josh:                  Right.

Michelle:           And thinking about what enables trust.

Josh:                  Yes.

Michelle:           It wasn’t to block self interest, because I don’t think you need to block self interest to be trustworthy.

Josh:                  No.

Michelle:           Or to trust. As I say, I put having a clear vision as a critical as the second mindset.

Josh:                  Yes.

Michelle:           Because I think it’s foundational. And I don’t think that we should pretend that we don’t get something out of things. I always talk about the fact that we have a generous spirit as connectors, and we love to give you love to connect it, we’re going to personal satisfaction, we enjoy adding value to others. But there is something in it for us whether it’s that feeling, or whether it’s that comfort with asking for a favor down the road or whatever it might be. Not everything we do. It’s not altruistic.

Josh:                  Right.

Michelle:           And I don’t think you have to pretend that it is.

Josh:                  No, I would agree with that. That seems to make sense to me. Michelle, unfortunately, we are out of time. So I’m going to bet that people are interested in finding your book and finding out more about you. How they go about doing that?

Michelle:           I would love for them to do that. The easiest way is to go to my website, which is From there, you can LinkedIn to me. You can find my Facebook page. You can find my YouTube channel. I do lots of success shorty videos. You can find my blog. So there are lots of free resources there. And if you sign up for my newsletter, you get a networking assessment and free chapters of the books and things like that. And if you want to find out more about The Connector’s Advantage, just go to the

Josh:                  Cool. And I also have a book offer for you, as Michelle held up my book Sustainable a Fable About Creating A Personally and Economically Sustainable Business. You can get it on Amazon, either as a Kindle or as a print version. But if you want the print version, and you go to my website, it’s the same price as Amazon, except you get two other things with it. You get a free 20 minute coaching call with me. I will guarantee you’ll walk away with one actionable idea from that conversation. The second is since Sustainable is a Fable. I wrote a 37 page e-book which is a how to guide which is how to implement all the stuff we talked about in the book. And again, it’s pretty easy to go to And you can get the book there and the bonuses and I hope you do. And this is Josh Patrick. We’re with Michelle Tillis Lederman. You’re at The Sustainable Business. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.

Narrator:          You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around a hundred years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at, or you can send Josh an email at

Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.

Topics: influence, sustainable business podcast, Sustainable Business, mindset, michelle tillis lederman, connector, impact, asking question, abundance mindset

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