Reputation matters even more when the world is small.

Filed under "It's a small world" comes these two gems:

Back in March of 1999, my partner, Bengi, and I worked as DJ's at our second wedding ever. While reminiscing about that first year of our DJ career recently, we wondered how life turned out for those first few clients. 

It turns out that it's pretty easy to find a woman on Facebook when you know her maiden and married names, so with no effort at all, I located the bride at that second-ever wedding. I was happy to see that she is still married to the groom, and that today she is a mother.

I also noticed that we have a Facebook friend in common. 

Five years ago, I met a woman named Jeni while speaking at the school where she teaches. She learned about Speak Up and decided to tell a story for us. She has gone on to tell many stories for Speak Up on some of our biggest stages, and she now competes in Moth StorySLAMs.

She was the victim of one of my greatest acts of storytelling cruelty.

Jeni is a brilliant storyteller. I continue to visit her school every year to talk about my books and storytelling, and I'm thrilled to call her my friend. 

Jeni is also the cousin of that bride. She attended my second wedding ever. Though we have been friends for just a few short years, our paths first crossed almost 20 years ago.

Last week I spoke at a symposium on Cross Cultural Awareness at the Connecticut Convention Center. During lunch, I sat down at a table to eat a cookie. Someone was at the podium, speaking, so I couldn't introduce myself to my table mates. As I ate a cookie, I overheard one woman whisper to another, "I'll just need to somehow get in touch with Rich at Camp Jewell."

I took out my phone, opened my contact list, and then slid the phone over to her.

"Hi," I said, pointing at my phone. "I have Rich's email and cell number. Would you like to send him a text?"

I met Rich several years ago while bringing my students to Camp Jewell on overnight trips. He is the director of school programs. Over the years, Rich and I have gotten to know each other well. A couple years ago, Rich took the stage at Speak Up to tell a story. He's since returned and told many other hilarious stories. 

I told a friend about these two recent coincidences, and she argued that they happen more often to me than most because I know a lot of people.

"You've been a teacher and a DJ for 20 years, and you write and speak and perform onstage, and now you have Speak Up. Of course a lost of people know you."

She argued that these intersections of friends and acquaintances are more frequent for someone like me than most.

I disagree. I think that the world really is smaller than we sometimes think, and that it wouldn't take long for everyone to find similar intersections with friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and even strangers.

I don't think you need to be Kevin Bacon to find six degrees of separation between people. In fact, I think that six is a lot. Probably too many. The world is much smaller than we realize. People are connected more closely than we realize. I'm constantly telling my students this in an effort to make them understand the importance and value of reputation. How hard it is earned and how easily it is destroyed. 

You never know when you might find yourself dancing at a wedding or eating a cookie in a conference room, unexpectedly connected to the people around you in unexpected ways.