Nexus (pronounced \ˈnek-səs\) as defined by the Merriam Webster online dictionary, is a relationship or connection between people and things. In 1929, Frigyes Karinthy came up with a theory called “six degrees of freedom” in which he said that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world. This concept then gained notoriety through an eponymous 1990 play written by John Guare and became my experience at the Nexus Global Youth Summit which held from 20-22 July 2016 in New York.
The Summit brings together young social entrepreneurs, investors and thought leaders to create unique opportunities for global social impact. Nexus events bring to life the concept of a “shrinking world” and the “social capital” of human networks. All of a sudden, you realize that you are in the same room, rubbing shoulders, clinking wine glasses and exchanging business cards with the people you only once read about in the news or watched on Ted Talks. People and resources are instantly connected together and the ignite talks, deep enough to spark an internal revolution.
That was my situation after listening to the little Maxwell Loughan, 13 year old President & Founder of Loughan Labs speak on “Redefining the Impossible.” I immediately felt like I had wasted a greater part my teenage years even though that wasn’t the case. The boy was so deep and thorough in his delivery and demonstrated an in-depth understanding of the Subject Matter of his presentation. He wrote his first line of code in C++ at age 6 and by the time he was 10, had finished 3 online MIT courses in Quantum Physics! At that age if I can remember, I was busy running around the neighborhood with my friends, playing soccer, watching TV and getting whooped on a regular basis (Yes, I know! I wasn’t as focused as Maxwell and my parents didn’t hesitate to serve a cold glass of “whoop juice” when I called for it!).
The line up of speakers was incredible and the organizational flow of the event, seamless. I have attended similar events around the world but I must say without any fear of contradiction that Nexus by far exceeded all other events I have attended in terms of truly delivering on its promises. Being an environment of non-solicitation, people could actually form real connections based on the strength of their ideas, desire to create meaningful impact as well as explore new frontiers and not solely for the purpose of getting a business card for cold emailing or calling. At Nexus you are probably even less than six degrees of separation from any person you desire to meet in the world because the network each individual brings could be mathematically modeled as a strong interconnected graph of strong and weak ties needed to get you to your desired contact anywhere in the world (and yes I make bold to say that I was probably 4 or less degrees of separation from President Barack Obama in that room!). This is what I call “accelerating the scale of change.”
Gone are those days when people worked in silos refraining to collaborate with their peers with the overall intent of becoming the rock stars of their communities. The world has changed rapidly and the problems with it. In order to tackle head-on today’s intractable problems, we need to accelerate the scale of change by partnering up with like-minded solution seekers, leveraging the strength of networks, resources and brainpower and deploying them at scale to wherever change is needed for the common good of all. That’s why at Nexus we always say that, “we have each others backs.”
If you are reading this article and you truly desire to accelerate the scale of change wherever you are, remember this I have your back. The question is do you have mine? Then share this within your networks and let’s keep the conversation going.