Pack hunting: You are who you hang around
Do you pick your friends wisely?
If you’ve ever followed the behavior of wolves or dolphins, you’ll understand why they’re successful hunters. Rather than going it alone, these animals pack hunt, attacking prey as a group.
When I was a young advisor, the head of our firm used one analogy over and over. He was adamant about the fact that he could sell pizza, dresses or financial plans if he had the right group of people. Pack hunting with the right group was the key to success.
Who was Al Gore’s roommate in college? Tommy Lee Jones.
Steve Balmer? Bill Gates.
Is it a wonder that the golden age of 20th century literature was the 1920s and Fitzgerald, Stein, Hemingway and others all knew each other in Paris?
Is it the educators at MIT that make it an incubator for many of the best ideas in America today, or is it the fact that you have so many like-minded people in close proximity?
I could continue, but you get the point: If you group a bunch of hard charging people together, the chance they all achieve success becomes greater. One “wolf” alone becomes more easily discouraged and has a hard time fighting off fear. But if people were around doing the same, difficult tasks, there was no telling what we could accomplish.
In the past I’ve read, but never really internalized, the old mantra that says that if you average your five closest friends salaries, that’s probably where your salary is. Colloquially, I know this is true for me. When I think about the people I hang out with, they’re people who’ve created and run companies, are bright engineers, financial pros or doctors who are at the top of their field.
So the key to success if you aren’t where you want to be in life?
Spend more time hanging out with people you want to emulate, not people who are like you, or people who have similar bad habits.
The problem, of course, is that changing friends isn’t just a flip of the switch, is it? It’s hard work to say goodbye to a group of people and to find new people to associate with. I’ve been there before. Here are some tips:
1) Join affinity groups. My brother is a sometimes frustrating entrepreneur. I continually tell him to find a group of people who are doing the same job he is and network with those people. He says he gets it, but refuses. Why? He believes, deep down, the same garbage that many people believe. He thinks in terms of “limited pie.” You know the deal….there’s only so much pie, and everyone wants a slice, so you guard yours so that nobody can touch it.
Sadly, my brother is stuck on the idea that he has proprietary knowledge and wants to move in areas that nobody else is moving in, so he avoids the pack. In short, he’s so busy protecting his pie that he refuses to network with everyone to find more.
The truth is, there’s enough pie for everyone.
If my brother had an unlimited pie mentality he’d realize that there is plenty of business for anyone who knows what they’re doing. You, too, can have what you want if you’re willing to sacrifice your crummy little piece of pie for a much bigger piece down the road.
2) Ask for help. Have you ever asked successful people for help? They all want to help. Find someone who’s been where you want to go and ask them to help you climb the ladder. You’ll be surprised by the response you receive. I think that every day when I ask people to appear on our podcast. It’s pretty amazing how giving people can be when you ask.
3) Find out what successful people do for fun and do it too. Biking and running groups are often populated by upwardly-mobile people. Take up running or biking. Join a health club in an affluent part of town.
4) Find people in related fields and create a mastermind group. Make sure that the people you ask are better at their jobs and have more experience in theirs than you have in yours. I created a mastermind group from a few people I knew and then began going to breakfast with their friends. How? I started an hour early and asked if they wanted to go to breakfast. Do you know how many people said no? None.
5) Work on Brand You. I know that’s a late 90’s phrase, but nobody is going to take care of your image, your appearance, and how the world views you better than you. You can take up twerking and make a name for yourself, or you can find people who have the same values that you have. Assuming your values don’t include twerking. If so, you probably don’t have to change a single thing.
We spend far too much time taking our friends for granted. They’re there or they aren’t. We don’t analyze these friendships to understand if they’re helping or hurting us. Sure, you should stand by your friends and help them rise too, but you should also focus on making sure that if your hope is to earn more, save more and spend more, that the people you surround yourself with share the same values and goals.