The Connector Bill of Health

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Relationships, not power, drive you forward.

~ Kim Malone Scott, former Apple and Google executive

Imagine if you went to the doctor for your annual physical and were asked these three questions:

  • What has changed in your life since I last saw you?
  • How has that impacted you?
  • Who do you have to support you?

Think back for a moment to everything that has happened to you in the last twelve months. I would be willing to bet a winning lottery ticket that not one of us has a year where all things stay the same!

My last year featured the big three: the marriage of a child, health issues, and new work responsibilities. And there were many, many more small events in between. Some days I felt as if change was more constant than ordinary daily predictability.

So, what has occurred in your life? Have you always been prepared?


With each scary, hairy change in my life, my secret recipe for getting through is not tackling anything big alone.

Who do I call? My connections. Sometimes it’s family, sometimes it’s friends, but often it’s people I barely know.

And almost instantly, I feel better. Once I can speak about the challenge to someone who listens and understands, I know I can cope.

That’s because my connections become my home team…and I return the favor.

Here’s an example: Almost sixteen years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember leaving the clinic in a fog where I had learned the news. With the slip of paper in hand that had the “malignant tumor box” checked, I raced to my car and cried. I was so scared I could barely think.

And then it hit me. I needed to figure out who my home team was for a cancer diagnosis.  I made my first call in the parking lot that day. It was to a woman who was a three-time breast cancer survivor that I did not know well.

She did three important things that gave me hope, and helped me process what was next:

  • Provided me the name of a doctor to call
  • Explained the treatment timeline
  • Offered to listen anytime in the future that I had questions

After that conversation, I knew there was a way through the jungle. And there was.

Since that call, I make it my practice to pay it forward with every cancer survivor who asks me for help.


It’s the lucky one of us who can say that we have everything we need to see us through a crisis. If it was just about visiting a doctor and getting a prescription for whatever ailed, we wouldn’t be as focused on why connections provide us the ultimate bill of health.

But not every challenging event that occurs in our lives has a parallel professional to seek out. And that’s why our mental and emotional health is dependent on the strength of our connections.

So don’t wait until you have an emergency. Here are the two most critical things you can do to maintain your connections for the times you need a home team:

  1. Don’t be a fair-weather friend. Reciprocity and consistency keep connections strong. Think about who is closest to you and focus on how to keep them close.  
  1. Practice gratitude. When your connections come through for you, let them know how much their actions mean. Appreciation is the lubricant of longstanding relationships.

And don’t be shy.

“Asking for help is hardly ever as bad as you imagine it will be”, according to Vanessa Bohns, professor of organizational behavior at Cornell. “When asked for help, most people are happy to comply. We are a social species.”

Remember that you are in charge of your connection bill of health, so nurture your connections. The challenges life hands you won’t stand a chance.

Write to me at with your questions and comments.


  • Ann Louden

    A seasoned executive in the nonprofit world, Ann Louden is the founder and CEO of Ann Louden Strategy and Consulting. Recognized for her expertise in fund raising, high profile special events, and campaign planning, Ann provides counsel to chief executives, staff, and volunteer leadership. Ann’s primary interest areas are education, health care for women and children, the arts, and adoption. As a cancer survivor, she led and was the twelve-year spokesperson for a breast cancer advocacy initiative that engaged thousands of survivors, volunteers and medical providers. With a mantra of bringing big ideas to life, Ann focuses on identifying a compelling vision and creating a goals-oriented plan for execution. An in-demand national speaker for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Ann is the recipient of the Steuben Excellence in Teaching Award and has been named as a CASE Laureate. She is the author of the upcoming book: From Social Courage to Connection: Lessons from Leaders Who Change and Save Lives. You can find her at

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