Craving Connections in the Business of People

In 1996 I ran an ad in the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times:

Title Assistant needed immediately. Send res. PO box xx, El Segundo CA 90245

Three lines cost $120.00 and after weeks of business planning backed by no experience we had set to open a temp agency. Title Temps would specialize in title insurance personnel and would solve the problem of the Southern California title industry in the ’90s where bimonthly layoffs and rehires were the norm. The cyclical nature of real estate, the volume of transactions performed in our region, and the highly technical skills required to complete the policies made this a perfect niche for contingent labor and we would show them why.

Business plan written, we submitted the ad, kept our day jobs, and waited to see if anyone would respond. Besides an initial meeting with Chicago Title’s Human Resources Director who had to listen to us anyway because my dad was on their board of directors, it was the first action put out to the community. Would anyone actually believe in the remote likelihood that we could get him a job?

Exhilarated by the possibility of starting up a business and touched with trepidation of never receiving a single piece of mail, I checked the post office every lunch until one day it was not empty. Set in the middle of the bronze colored rectangular box was a lone #10 envelope type written and addressed to me and it made me cry. Someone had answered and, however slight as it was, the connection touched me. This connection gave me encouragement and strength and attached a human element to our plan which to that moment only existed on paper. Someone wanted us, or at least needed work, and that evening after step aerobics class (original Reeboks with the straps), I prepared two weeks notice and quit my job.

Fourteen years later, hundreds of title assistants having been placed and eons away from ads in print, I wake up in the morning and check to see who’s following. Sometimes it’s business, sometimes personal, and occasionally a fashion designer who I have mentioned online. It is still about the connect. In business and in life and there is nothing like the feeling when someone listens. Fourteen years ago, we would submit a classified and wait for the mail truck. Now we are conversing all over the web and feedback streams throughout the day. Fortunately I don’t cry over each reply but every connection sure feels good.

Note: I have not found a suitable a synonym capturing the connotation of “connection.” Merriam-Webster: association, bearing, kinship, liaison, linkage, relation, relationship, correlation, interrelation, materiality, pertinence, relevance; bond, link, tie; affiliation, alliance, union; likeness, resemblance, similarity.

About the Author

Diane Prince Johnston

Diane Prince Johnston is an experienced entrepreneur with a background in staffing. Diane has participated in founding multiple companies; taking them from start-up ventures to purchase offerings resulting in owner exit strategies. Diane is a social media educator and speaker, volunteer mentor at JVS Los Angeles, job seeker advocate and career counselor. Diane enjoys beach living in Malibu with her 3 daughters and Havanese puppy. She loves to hike, write and read.


Lisa Rosendahl

Connections boost my energy, give me purpose and make me smile. It’s a perfect word and with it, you captured exactly, as Jennifer said above, the human part of what we do.

Ann Farrell


In coaching, it is the connection that has the power to transform our clients and our clients lives. There is nothing more powerful than to feel that we are truly “seen”, listened to and acknowledged for who we be, who we are becoming as well as for what we do! Whether it was my years in business, in HR, as a friend, as a parent or a coach, it is the sum of my real connections that enables and defines both my legacy as well as what I will always remember most!

Thanks for your wonderful reminder for us all!

Jennifer Payne

I think as HR professionals we can NEVER forget the human part of what we do…and the importance of always keeping in mind how decisions that are made affect the people involved. Sometimes we get too caught up in policy & procedure that we lose sight of human connections. Nice post….thanks!


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