Kevin Bacon is a popular
American actor. The idea behind the Kevin Bacon game is to link any actor or
actress to Kevin Bacon through the movies they’ve been in.
For example: Mary Pickford
was in “Screen Snapshots” with Clark Gable, who was in “Combat America” with
Tony Romano who, 35 years later, was in “Starting Over” with Kevin Bacon. Three Steps.
In the 1990s, computer
scientist Brett Tjaden determined that Kevin Bacon was on average 2.8312 steps
from any actor or actress, which placed him 668th of all actors and
actresses. Then he determined the overall connectivity of a host of other actors
and actresses. Among the top 50 were names such as Martin Sheen, Robert
Mitchum, Gene Hackman, Donald Sutherland, Rod Steiger, and Shelly Winters.
Duncan Watts and
Steven Strogatz further attempted to determine why actor Burgess Meredith, who
appeared in 114 films, ranked in the top 20 when Gary Cooper, with a similar
number of films, ranked 878th, and John Wayne, with 183 films to his
credit, only ranked 160th.
that while Gary Cooper and John Wayne appeared in a significantly greater
number of movies, the movies were of a similar type. In fact, over 50% of John
Wayne’s movies were westerns.
on the other hand, appeared in fewer but a greater variety of films: 42 dramas,
22 comedies, 8 adventures, as well as action, documentary, science fiction,
horror, western, thrillers, crime, children, romance, mysteries, and even a musical
and one animated film.
What can you take away from the Kevin Bacon game? If your network looks
like Burgess Meredith’s career, with lots of variety and diversity, you’re
probably doing great! But if your network resembles John Wayne’s career – lots
of connections but from relatively few sources – you need to diversify.
To explore the
real potential of your network, you need to live in lots of worlds – work, church,
PTA, youth sports, trade association outside your profession, etc.