Three People Talking

3 Types of People That Make the Greatest Social Impact, and Why You Should Be One of Them

  • December 05, 2020
  • Daniel Lo

Recent social distancing initiatives and work-from-home policies have left some of us with a lot of time on our own and less to do. One thing that is worth spending this excess introspective time on is your personal brand. We should all be bold and forward-thinking enough to not lose sight of our personal development goals, and continue to build our personal brands.

A very rich man once said: “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” (Jeff Bezos, Amazon). The term “branding” is traditionally used in reference to businesses, but with the proliferation of social media and the gig economy, personal branding has become vital to stand out from the crowd. A personal brand is how you present to the world the unique combination of skills and experiences that make you who you are.

In his best-selling book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell talks about three archetypes that are necessary to achieve a word-of-mouth social movement. According to Gladwell, the Law of the Few posits that “[t]he success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.” Economists call this the Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 Principle, which states that in any given situation, roughly 80 per cent of the work will be undertaken by 20 per cent of the participants. Certain kinds of people are critical in spreading information and can take a movement from being something that is at a local level to being something that is exploding. These are the changemakers. The 20 per cent will fall into either some or all of the below archetypes.

Connectors—they make change happen through people. They are very connected to other people as they occupy a position in many diverse social groups. They act as a bridge between you and others in their wide-reaching social circles. Connectors have an innate talent in being able to bring people together. Connectors may not always know the answers to your questions, but they are guaranteed to know someone who does. They have access to a number of contacts and can draw on them quite easily.

You could be a connector if you often say things like: “Hey, you should probably speak to…”, “Oh, do you know…”, and “Oh, I know someone who does that…”.

Mavens—they make change happen through information and ideas. Mavens act as a knowledge hub. Mavens have in-depth personal knowledge in specific areas and love to deep dive into curiosities. They love to initiate discussions in their areas of expertise and often feel compelled to share their knowledge with others. They are generally motivated to help others with their knowledge and readily respond to requests for assistance.

You could be a maven if you often say things like: “I read something really interesting yesterday…”, “Funny you mention that, did you know…”, and “You should take a look at this article…”

Salespeople—they make change happen through persuasion. Salespeople are your storytellers and masters of persuasion, and they have a knack of convincing others to their way of thinking. Salespeople have the ability to create trusting bonds with people and are inherently very effective negotiators. They are charismatic, emotionally expressive, and have the innate ability to make others agree and side with them.

You could be a salesperson if you often say things like: “What is the value add here?”, “Here is how you should structure this, and here is the value proposition…”, and “Always be closing!”

My proposition to you is simple: Instead of spending your time worrying about the world falling apart, focus your energy on being a changemaker, be part of that 20 per cent. Identify your archetype(s) and let that be part of your personal brand. If you are naturally gifted in one or a couple of the archetypes, lean in and explore ways to expand on your existing talents and skills. If you identify with none of these archetypes but want to become one, take this opportunity to make small changes in the way you interact and communicate with others, and work towards an archetype that your personality is more suited to.

The benefit of working on your personal brand is that it is completely within your control, and you can inherently help those around you, whether by connecting people, imparting expert knowledge, or persuading someone to take a better path. Get going.


Daniel LoDaniel is a private equity lawyer and is triple-qualified in Canada (Alberta and Ontario), England & Wales, and the British Virgin Islands. He was born in Hong Kong, raised in Mississauga, and proudly calls Canada his home. He is currently working as an asset management lawyer at UBS in Singapore. Daniel is a founder of Global Lawyers of Canada, a national professional association that supports internationally trained lawyers and diversity in the legal profession. He is also a founding member of the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers - Western Chapter. You can connect with him on LinkedIn

This article was originally published on the OBA Young Lawyers Division Articles page.